The town of Korčula
The town of Korčula is the cultural and administrative center of Korčula island. Beside Korčula town, administratively it also covers the villages of Žrnovo, Pupnat and Čara as well as bays Žrnovska Banja, Račišće, Kneže and Zavalatica, with other smaller settlements and bays.
In front of the Korčula town there are numerous islets - the biggest one is called Badija and it's probably the most famous. Beside amazing nature, on Badija, although is uninhabited, you can also explore a bit of history and culture - there are a renaissance church and a Franciscan monastery from the 15th century.
Korčula is the only town on the Korčula island and can also boast of its long history - its official historical document, The statute of the town and the island of Korčula, comes from 1214 (supplemented 1265), which makes it the oldest legal document in Croatia and one of the oldest among the Slavic in general.
Today, Korčula has about 3000 inhabitants. The center of the town is a historical city core located on a small peninsula on the eastern side of the island, towards the Pelješac. The old town is enclosed by centuries old stone wall and forts, and the ground plan of this beautiful town reveals paving lanes in a form of a fish bone - this formation allows smooth flow of air, while protecting the city from stormy winds. The old town is certainly the most impressive part of Korčula, with are numerous sights. Among others there are: Korčula Town Museum, St. Mark's Cathedral from the 14th century, St. Michael's Church from the 15th century, All Saints Church, Abbot's Treasury, Revelin Tower, All Saints Tower, Governor's Palace (City Hall)... One of the most famous Korčula's sights is certainly the Marco Polo House.
The world renowned traveller and explorer, Marco Polo, was born in 1254, and it is believed that he was born in Korčula town so today he is one of the symbols of Korčula. Apart from his exploration trips to Asia, Marco Polo is also known as a participant of one of the greatest medieval battles in Mediterranean - the Battle of Curzola (which is old name for Korčula). This battle took place between the Genoese and the Venetian fleet, on September 7, 1298. Marco Polo ended up as one of the captives in prison in Genoa, where he wrote his famous book The Travels of Marco Polo. Actually, he wrote that book with the help from a famous fantastic novels writer of those days - Rustichello from Pisa. Polo described his adventures trough Asia (between 1271 and 1295) to Rustichello, who wrote it down, probably occasionally adding some of his own share or at least suggestions... The book is considered travel (documentary) literature, although today we know that a quite part of it is a fiction.
Moreška - a stunnig sword dance
Beside Marco Polo, most famous symbol of Korčula is a sword dance Moreška. It is (most likely) from the 16th century and it represents a battle for a girl (called bula) between two armies - the black one (Arabian king) and the white one (Turkish king). Moreška is performed often during summer, as a tourist attraction, and especially on the St. Theodor's Day (since St. Theodor is a patron of Korčula) on July 29th.
Local old stories - meet little red cap dwarfs
Like other places on the island, Korčula town has its own, very rich tradition in local fantasy tales, which includes numerous supernatural creatures like fairies, witches etc. There is also an evil man called Babauko who can be found only in Korčula town tales - parents and other grownups used stories about Babauko to intimidate children. But perhaps the most interesting of these fantasy creatures are the little dwarfs with red caps - in Croatian called macići - who eneter the house overnight, through the chimney, and steal the special sort of traditional local cakes, called fritule or pršurate. These little guys are (mostly) good, but to keep them in that mood, one should offer them with these sweets - traditionally, cakes are left on the doorstep, especially on Christmas Eve. These little red cap dwarfs can also be found in Russian mythology, and in Slavic mythology in general, under various names, like Domaći or Domaji... They are also popularized by famous Croatian writer Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić in her book Croatian Tales of the Long Ago (first time publishes in 1916). If you want to know more about these, and many other old island stories, ask locals or go to the Korčula City Library where you will find numerous books about local fantasy and traditional tales.
New, contemporary part of the town of Korčula will capture you with its museums, galleries, local delicacies (the most famous are local sweets called klašuni and cukarini) souvenirs, hotels, apartments, restaurants, coffee and lounge bars, taverns, street shops, charming squares. The houses in the old town center are particularly attractive, as well as flats, villas and apartments outside the city wall, even outside the city, but in its immediate vicinity, as they offer a blend of urban touch and tranquility, perfect for vacation and full Mediterranean experience.
Village of Žrnovo
Four kilometers from the town of Korčula, in the picturesque landscape made of hills and valleys richly adorned with cypress, pines and other Mediterranean trees, lies village of Žrnovo, constituted on four smaller villages called Brdo, Prvo selo, Kampuš and Postrana. Numerous small places in nearness also belong to Žrnovo - Medvinjak, Žrnovska banja, Vrbovica, Oskorušica and few bays on the south side of the island. Žrnovo is famous for its sword dance Moštra, famous noodle dish called Žrnovo macaroni (in local: žrnovski makaruni) and as the birthplace of Petar Šegedin, a great Croatian writer from the second half of the 20th century. Žrnovo is also famous for its cultural, historical and natural attractions such as the Roman Path, Marmont Path, Bilin Kok and Jakas Cave (from Neolithic). There is also a special area called Kočje, protected by law as a nature park since 1962, for its amazing forest vegetation. With its huge dolomite rocks, caves, narrow passages, natural labyrinths decorated with ivy and oaks so old that their tree trunks coalesced with stone, Kočje area is truly natural phenomenon. In the rocky rifts you can find aromatic Mediterranean herbs - sage, pelin, rosemary... And a special moment in this fairy-tale setting is a small lake with potable water called Vilino korito, which means fairy lake - according to the local tales, this area was a fairies habitat. Furthermore, these fairies used to perform special fairy dance during the full moon and there are many local stories about these fairies from Kočje. The most famous stories are the one where the villagers trust and patience is tempted by the fairies - when you visit Žrnovo, ask the older locals to tell you about these stories, probably they will be glad to tell you about it.
Bay of Račišće
About 12 kilometers west of the town of Korčula, in a bay on the north side of the island lies Račišće, overlooking the Pelješac peninsula and the imposing St. Elias mountain. This is one of the youngest settlements on the island - it is inhabited at the end of the 17th century. As soon as they came, locals have built a church that you can still see today in the center of the place. Later, St. Nicholas Church was built (St. Nicholas is the patron of the place). Račišće has always been known as the village of the sailors , since most of the men in the place are sailors, it's here as some kind of tradition. Today, Račišće is well known as a tourist destination that offers many gastronomic specialties, traditional taverns and beautiful beaches and bays - the most famous are Vaja and Samograd. Near Račišće is the bay of Kneže, also a small tourist place and famous windsurfing destination.
Village of Pupnat
Near the main island road, from Korčula town and Žrnovo towards the west, lies Pupnat, one of the smallest places on the island but also one of the oldest - there are numerous remains of Illyrian and Roman fortifications. Pupnat is famous for its traditional small stone houses, settled in vineyards, olive fields and forest around the village. The patroness of the place is Lady of Snow – it is celebrated on August 5 and the main village church is named after her. Pupnat also has its own sword dance, Kumpanija, performed on special occasions. From Pupnat, the old island road leads to one of the most beautiful bays on the island - Pupnatska luka (translates to English as the Port of Pupnat). There are also many others beautiful bays around, like Bačva, Smokova, Ripna etc.
Village of Čara
Further, along the main island road to the west, is village of Čara. It is also located in the interior of the island. In the center of the place, in front of the St. Peters Church, grows a centuries-old cypress tree, it's one of the main sights of Čara. Čara has a stunning view of the sea, surrounding islands, hills and Čara's valley with its famous vineyards – here grows pošip, as in the neighboring Smokvica, from which one of the most famous white wines in Croatia is made. In the Čara's valley there is a small church from the 14th century, dedicated to the Lady of Čara's valley. In Čara as well Kumpanija, the sword dance, is traditionally performed. The most famous local legend is the one about Črnomiri brothers, who have been bravely opposed to the Venetian ruler in 11th century. A few kilometers from Čara, on the south side of the island, lies Zavalatica bay with its beaches, apartments and fantastic surrounding bays - the most famous are Žitna and Čavića luka (Port of Čavić). Čara and its surroundings, just like Žrnovo, Pupnat, Račišće are perfect places for buying agricultural land, as well as construction land or ready-made house - from traditional stone houses to modern family houses or apartments that are at the same time in the middle of untouched nature, but also close to the sea as well as the island's urban center, Korčula.