Municipality of Vela Luka
The municipality of Vela Luka, with around 4500 inhabitants, is located on the western part of the island of Korčula, and along the Vela Luka bay (Vela Luka in Croatina means Big Port), it also includes smaller surrounding villages, mostly bays as well. The bay of Vela Luka is more than 9 kilometers long, making Vela Luka one of the best anchorages on the Adriatic. Beside numerous amazingly beautiful bays on its shore, Vela Luka can boast with numerous islands in nearness – most famous are Ošjak and Proizd. The beaches on Proizd have been listed - several times - as one of the most beautiful in the world. Above Vela Luka is hill of Hum - with its 376 m above sea level is the highest peak in the area.
Famous archeological site from the late Stone Age
One of the most famous sights of Vela Luka is archeological site Vela spila (literally: Big cave) with findings of man's stay in this area in prehistoric times, more precisely from the period of the late Stone Age. Vela spila is one of the most important archaeological sites in Europe.
Legend of the south wind and other specifics of Vela Luka today
Today, Vela Luka is known for its a capella singing (in local, these groups performing a capella are called klapa), fishermen, good food and that special charm of a typical Dalmatian little places – according to local legends, this charm reaches its peak during the south wind called jugo since jugo has a very special influence on local people). It is good to know that in Vela Luka taverns (as well as elsewhere on the island, you only have to look carefully) meals are still prepared based on ancient recipes (ask for dalmatinska pašticada, for example).
Vela Luka is the birthplace of numerous celebrated artists and intellectuals, including academician Šime Vučetić, sculptor Ante Marinović, poet Danijel Dragojević, sculptor, painter and poet Izvor Oreb, conceptual artist Gorki Žuvela, famous singer Oliver Dragojević and others.
As well as most of the other island places, Vela Luka has its own sword dance Kumpanija. Also and in Vela Luka are still performed some ancient dances, like Mafrina, Tanac etc. Except for art, Vela Luka was known for its fish and package industry and its shipyards. It is also known for its special hospital Kalos and a healing mud which is located in the very heart of Vela Luka bay (just like in Istruga bay near Smokvica).
In the center of Vela Luka you can still see old, traditional stone houses, and in the outskirts of the town there are many modern seaside villas. Considering the fact that Vela Luka is surrounded by vineyards, olive groves, pine forests and orchards, other than construction land, this is an excellent area for buying agricultural land.
Drywalls of Vela Luka and a story of mosaics
Talking about Vela Luka, we can not forget to mention one thing – its special centuries old connection with stone. Although love between man and stone has always been alive and present throughout the island of Korčula (especially in Vrnik and Lumbarda), Vela Luka is special in this regard – here, the connection between stone and man is particularly strong and is manifested mostly in traditional drywall architecture and in the creation of mosaics, a skill that is being revitalized today, which is both metaphorically and literally embedded in Vela Luka vibe and vision. Impressive monument in the center of the town made of mosaic, and in honor of the great International artists meeting held in August 1966, is one of many proofs of this special relationship.
Another proof of this men and stone bond in Vela Luka are kilometers long dry-stone-walls in this area. Beside drywalls, there are also still preserved small houses in vineyards and olive groves that were used as shelter and were also build in drywall technique. But these houses in Vela Luka differ from the ones on other parts of the island – they have a round shape, unlike other along the island which have square shape. These small round stone house built in drywall technique, in Vela Luka area, is called vrtujak, and today only 10 of them are still preserved. Most of them were built in second half of 19th and first half of 20th century, at the same time as drywalls, when the land is intensely cultivated by vineyards. This small houses, together with drywalls, make an unbreakable whole and a magnificent example of drywall architecture, whose builders, despite lacking any formal knowledge or any binding materials, created an impressive (and fully functional) architecture that in no way harmed the nature; in fact, it blended perfectly into the landscape and enriched it.
The drywalls in the Vela Luka area, as well as in the whole island of Korčula (as well as elsewhere on the islands and on the Dalmatia coast) are proof of tremendous persistence and exceptional building skills and as such a unique example of Croatian traditional and vernacular architecture. Although it can not be known with certainty how many kilometers of this drywall are there on Korčula island, given that a considerable part of them is now covered with pine forests and other vegetation, it is estimated that only in the area around Vela Luka there are at least impressive 10.000 kilometers or even, according to some researches, around 30.000 kilometers of drywalls.