Korcula (pronounced “Kort-chula)
On our way between Split and Dubrovnik we stayed on Korcula Island on the Croatian Dalmatian coast, and were very happy that we chose this as our island stop-over. The town of Korcula is not large and has a very pretty Old Town, with plenty for visitors, even though it’s not terribly touristy, compared to Hvar Island.
Korcula is a long, skinny island and the town of Korcula is on the Old Town peninsula, which pokes into the sea towards the end of the island (facing the Peljesac Peninsula, which in turn faces towards the mainland and Dubrovnik). The Old Town peninsula is connected to the rest of the island at a big staircase leading to the Great Land Gate, just above the harbor where the catamaran docks. This is (and was) the main entrance into Old Town.
A waterfront street lines the edge of the Old Town peninsula on both sides, basically following the line of the Old Town’s old walls, some of which are half their original height now. That’s because in the 19th century the people of the town quarried the top half of some of the walls to build new homes and to improve air circulation in the Old Town. At the point is a tower, dating from the 16th century.
We thought the prettier side (not the marina/hotel side, where the resorts are and the big boats come in) was the Set Petra Kanavelica walk; it has many small shops and restaurants lining the waterfront street on the sea wall, up above the sea below, and is very pretty with trees all along the sea wall.
The Old Town peninsula is like a long skinny hill, so from the waterfront walk on one side you can walk up steep lanes, sometimes just sets of steps, to the top main street that runs like a spine along the top (called Korcula Statute of 1214 Street), and then walk down the corresponding lanes to the other side. This layout is apparently good on two counts: it catches the breezes when necessary and also makes it easier to create shade.
Korcula town was founded by the ancient Greeks. It became part of the Roman Empire and was eventually a key southern outpost of the Venetian Republic. The people of Korcula are very proud that Marco Polo was born here in 1254, and there are numerous mentions of him, plus a museum. Later, it was ruled by the Habsburgs, until the Austro-Hungarian Empire broke up after WW1, and the time of Yugoslavia began (with bloody wars and break-ups in the last century that I won’t go into here).
Staying in Korcula was a great choice for some “down-time”, for relaxing and “smelling the roses”. We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast in our apartment on one of the steep lanes (after buying groceries at a Konzum grocery store down by the harbor). Then each day we just wandered at will, exploring the narrow lanes, admiring the houses, many with elaborate facades and detailed carvings; stopping for tea at a place where we could enjoy the views of the sea; checking out the many churches or the small museums; and then choosing a place on the waterfront walk, or on one of the side streets, for lunch.
A siesta after lunch, maybe, or catch up on essentials like laundry or writing up the journal. Then a swim in the sea (steps lead down form the waterfront walk), and a beer or glass of wine at the outdoor table of our apartment. After that, it was the important task of finding another great restaurant for dinner. We had many wonderful meals, all along the waterfront overlooking the sea, and it was magical. The food was great too!
One evening we were lucky enough to catch a free dance show, on an open plaza near All Saints Church in Old Town just above the harbor. It was a mini version of the famous Moreska Dance, a medieval folk dance.
I’ll put up a separate post on some of the yummy meals in Korcula, plus another with a short account of some of the main sights.
As you can tell, we really enjoyed our time here. It was also helped by the fact that the apartment we rented—Apartments Lenni, thanks to Rick Steves—was ideally placed in Old Town and the owners were so friendly and helpful (see short post to follow)