Korcula Town

Situated on an oval headland on the north shore of Otok Korcula towards its east end, the town of Korcula stands like a sentinel overlooking one of the narrowest points of the Peljeski Kanal and once controlled the follow of sea traffic along that important water way.

The old town as we see it today is a street that runs along the spine of the headland from the impressive southern gate through the central square and past the cathedral to the northern wall. From of this central spine a herringbone pattern of side streets running down the flanks of the headland to the east and west. The whole thing is surrounded by medieval defensive walls, punctuated with large drum-shaped towers. Developed between the the 13th and 16th centuries (when most of its surviving buildings were constructed) it is said to have been built in the herring bone plan to ensure that cooling breezes kept it fresh in summer, but that the winds of winter storms could have little effect.

An outbreak of plague in 1529 is said to have finally bought the expansion of the town to an end. Later in the same century a further disaster was narrowly averted when the Uluz Ali, a Turkish corsair is said to have attacked the town (1571). The Venetian garrison is held to have fled in the face of the assault leaving a local priest to lead the townsfolk in their struggle and eventual successful attempts to repel the invaders who moved on a sacked the town of Hvar instead.

Much of Korcula Town’s history has been intimately linked to that of the Venetian empire, which ruled large tracts of the Adriatic archipelago during the medieval and post-medieval period, though as european trade routes spread to the Americas and the far east (ironically following in the footsteps of Marco Polo) the Venetian star waned and with it so do the importance and fortunes of the Town.

Today the visitor can walk through the cool and airy streets of the old town and marvel at the architecture, visit the gothic splendour of the the Cathedral of St Mark and wander through the side streets, often laced with flowers and creepers. There are the usual spread of restaurants and cafes along with tourist shops, though much of the old town feels quieter and more residential than the streets of  either Dubrovnik or Hvar and generally Korcula is on a smaller scale than either.

Walking along the walls around the north end of the town is similar to many of the ‘Riva’ type waterfronts of the Adriatic with a string of interesting bar/cafes serving first breakfast, then coffee and drinks during the day and in some cases meals as well. The difference here however is that their tables a shaded by the more mature trees growing on the tops of the town walls and their views are not of a harbour but of the traffic moving up and down the Peljeski Kanal and over to the harbour of Orebic on Peljesac.

Other historic highlights in the town include the smaller and simpler church of St Micheal’s (located inside the small square immediately within the Southern Gate. Also the a big draw for Korcula is the house that Marco Polo is said to have been born and raised in, located 2 streets to the north of St Marks and on the east side of the headland just off Sv. Roka on De Polo. The disputed claim to be the birthplace Marco Polo has been important to Korcula and may not be as outlandish as some suggest as the great explorer and mariner has no other official birthplace. Polo was known to be a Venetian sea captain (many of whom were recruited from the Adriatic Islands)and is recorded as having being captured at the Battle of Korcula in 1298. The Marco Polo house is open daily to visitors.

Another major tourist draw for the town is the Sword Dance or Moreska, traditionally performed on the 29th July each year in honour of St Theodor, but now enacted every Thursday between May and September. The dance is a piece of theatre that re-counts the tale of a struggle between the white and the black king who has kidnapped the veiled maiden Bula and is an allegory for the strugle between the Christian West and the Turks that dominated the Adriatic  area’s history throughout the later medieval and post medieval. The dance is one of several that have become tradition throughout Otok Korcula, and though the Moreska is now accompanied by a brass band, other similar events on the island are still accompanied by more traditional  island instruments including the local bag pipes.

©  Pzmn/Wikimedia


Those arriving by boat have three immediate options for mooring up. Most prominently there is the ACI Marina on the east side of the town, though this facility is frequently busy in the peak months. There is also a small town harbour on the west side of the town which has varying reports of the services available but is very exposed to strong westerly winds funnelled down the Peljeski Kanal. Finally there is the anchorage of Luka Banja less than 1nm to the west of the town and an easy walk away for those who prefer a slight remove from the centre of the action.

Slightly further afield there are a number of other safe anchorages to the east of the town beyond the INA Fuel Berth and the Ferry Terminal. Beyond this there is the Marina of Lumbarda which is a short bus ride along the coast towards the eastern tip of Korcula, or for those who would rather moor on the north side of the Peljeski Kanal there is the harbour of Orebic which is nice working harbour that will take boats up to 2 metres in depth and which usually has space. Orebic is linked to Korcula town not only by the Jadrolina ferry service which leaves from next to the yacht moorings but also by several ‘water taxis’.

For more thoughts on Korcula Town and the options for mooring see the Blog (February 2012)

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