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2 day trip to Korcula

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shutterstock_133569929 No trip do Dalmatia is complete without a visit to one of the islands. Those you will find near Croatia’s crown jewel of Dubrovnik include the smaller islands of Lopud, Koločep, and Sipan, and the bigger ones of Mljet and Korčula. Each of them, of course, has its charms and something different to offer. But if you’re visiting Dubrovnik, it might be apt you opt for Korčula as the nearby island of your choice, as it is home to what is often referred to as “little Dubrovnik” – its main town, which also bears the name of Korčula.

The island

Korčula is the second most populated island of Croatia after Krk, which is located to the north. The island’s main settlements include, in addition to Korčula, Vela Luka and Blato. The island is one of the Adriatic’s greenest and it’s abundant with vineyards and olive groves.  The beaches and coves are mostly located to the south of the island, where you’ll also find no less than a couple hundred of caves.

Getting to Korčula from Dubrovnik is fairly easy. You can take a Jadrolinija ferry directly from Dubrovnik, June through September, or the catamaran Ferry Nona Ana which runs four times a week during July and August. Alternatively, you can catch a ferry in the little town of Orebić on the Pelješac peninsula, located a little further to the north.

What to see in town

Korčula Town’s nickname of “little Dubrovnik” was earned for the thick 14th-century stone defence walls and towers which surround it. Within the walls are narrow cobbled streets, branching off of the main street in a layout designed to temper the local winds, particularly the bora. A walk through the town will reveal old churches and palaces of aristocrats built in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries.

Cathedral

When approaching the island you’ll be able to see the impressive 15th-century bell tower from the island’s Gothic-Renaissance cathedral. Located on the main square of the town, the cathedral hosts works by Venetian Renaissance painter Tintoretto above the main alter and in the southern name and it also features a 13th-century Romanesque portal.

Where to find it: Strossmayerov Trg, old town
When to go: May-Oct daily 9am-2pm and 5pm-8pm, Nov-Apr variable

Entrance fee: 5 kn

Contact: + 385 20 715 701

City Museum

Just across from the cathedral in the town on Korcula’s main square is the Town Museum, in a 16th century Renaissance palazzo. The star of the museum is in its archaeological collection — one of the oldest written documents in Croatia. It’s a stone plaque in ancient Greek dating back to the 4th century B.C. called “the psephism from Lumbarda.”

Where to find it: Strossmayerov Trg, old town
When to go: Jul-Sep daily 10:30am-9pm; Apr-Jun and Oct Mon-Sat 10:30am-2pm and 7pm-9pm; Nov-Mar Mon-Fri 10am-1pm.
Entrance fee: 10 kn

Contact: +385 020 711420

Marco Polo House

Did you know Marco Polo was born on the island of Korčula? Attesting to this fact are not only the frequency of the last names of Polo and Depolo but also the adventurer’s recorded presence in 1298 at a naval battle between Genoa and Venice which took place just off the coast of the island. Last year a museum was opened in Korčula in honor of him. Located in Polo’s house of birth, the museum can be found just off the main square, behind the cathedral. See seven scenes from the life and travels of this most famous of explorers. Then climb the Marco Polo tower for wonderful views of the town below — perhaps they inspire you, too, for further travels.

Where to find it: 33 Plokata Square, old town
When to go: 9 a.m. to midnight
Entrance fee: 25 Kn

Contact: 385 98 970 5334

Also not to miss

While visiting the island of Korčula you should be sure to try to catch a performance of the Moreska Sword Dance, which dates back to the 16th century. Telling tells the story of a battle between two kings and the involvement of an abducted princess, the dance was once widely performed throughout southern Europe. Today it is practiced only in Korčula. Be sure not to miss it while there.

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Four historic attractions on and off Stradun

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5D3B9291It’s usually love at first sight with Dubrovnik. The glitz and glamour are exciting, the views enchanting, and the salt-air of Dalmatia somehow smells of serenity. You’ll want to soak it all in immediately and you can begin to on Stradun, the city’s main promenade. From there you don’t have far to go to some of the city’s biggest historic sights.

The main attraction of Dubrovnik is, without a doubt, its complex of city walls which encircle it. This defense grid is so impressive UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site in 1979. The first set of walls around the city were put up in the 13th century and the last fortification added in the 15th, at a time when Dubrovnik’s power and influence had peaked. Testimony to the quality of the walls is the fact they remained intact even after a devastating earthquake struck the republic in 1667.

The main entrance to the city’s walls is by the Pile Gate — go to the left when you enter. Once you’re on them, be ready for a two-kilometer stroll. Be sure to pack a hat and sunscreen as well as a bottle of water. Also, we recommend avoiding the mid-day crowds and merciless sun and heat of the early afternoon – it’s best to visit in the morning or before dusk. And be sure to have your camera on the ready when you go. The sights are spell-bounding!

Details

Getting there: all buses lead to Pile Gate (purchase bus tickets for 12 kn at hotel reception as opposed to 15 kn from bus driver)

Contact: 020 324 641

Hours: Summer 9am-7pm daily. Winter 9am-3pm daily

Admission 70kn; 30kn discounted

The walls may be Dubrovnik’s main claim to fame, but they’re not the only sights to see in this amazing city which helped put Croatia on the map.  Another is its 15th-century synagogue, the second-oldest synagogue in Europe and the oldest Sephardic one still in use today.

In the 14th century many Jews who were expelled from Spain took refuge in the city-state of Ragusa — today the Croatian city of Dubrovnik – where there already was a small Jewish community. Soon a Jewish ghetto was established in a street today known as Zudioska ulica (“Jewish Street”). It’s right off Stradun and this is where the synagogue is located.

Constructed in the Italian Baroque style, its inside has a mixture of designs from different eras. It is owned by the local Jewish community, who in 2003 converted its first floor into Croatia’s first Jewish museum. It hosts numerous religious objects and centuries-old artifacts including archival documents and elaborate scrolls from between the 13th and 17th centuries.

Details

Address: Žudioska 5

Phone: 020 321 028

Admission: 10kn

Hours: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Mon-Fri Oct-May, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. daily Jun-Sep

Another of the city’s historic sights you shouldn’t miss is the Franciscan Monastery and – equally as important – the Old Pharmacy Museum in its complex. The pharmacy doesn’t get the full attention it should, as it is the third-oldest functioning pharmacy in the world and the oldest pharmacy in Europe still in use today. It was opened as far back as 1317.

Inside visitors can see many wonderful original objects from the history of the medical profession dating back to the Ragusan era including stone bowls, ancient lab equipment, ceramics and medical books, all on display here. It’s interesting to note that many of the containers and poisons you see on the pharmacy’s shelves also date from the 15th century, so you can get a look at remnants of medieval medicine without going in the museum if you prefer.

Find it in the passageway between the monastery and the Church of Our Savior. As with most sights, it’s best not to visit in the middle of the day due to crowds.

Details

Address: Stradun 2

Phone: 020 321 410

Admission: 20 kn for adults, 10 kn for children

Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the summer season

Dubrovnik’s renaissance mansion of Rector’s Palace was built in the late 15th century. Gothic with Renaissance and Baroque additions, it underwent numerous reconstructions during the course of its turbulent history and every time it was destroyed or damaged a new architect came in with a new vision of how the building should look. The resulting unique blend of styles is seen across the entire building.

Built for the governing Rector of Dubrovnik, the palace contains the rector’s office and private chambers as well as public halls and administrative offices. Today it is a museum, where one can soak in the splendor of Dubrovnik of old in exhibition halls with numerous items from history including antique furniture, objects for daily use, and paintings by local and Italian masters.

Details:

Address: Pred Dvorom 3

Contact: 020 426 469

Price: adult 35 kn, concession 15 kn, audio guide 30 kn

Hours: 9am-6pm May-Oct, to 4pm Nov-Apr
Other sights abound, of course, in Dubrovnik but these are without a doubt four must-sees you’d be well advised to start off with. Be sure not to miss them during your stay.

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Upon his visit to Dubrovnik in 1929, George Bernard Shaw said: “If you want to see Heaven on Earth, come to Dubrovnik.”

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dubrovnikIndeed, the famed beauty of this immaculately preserved walled city has attracted many a legend throughout its time, from royal families and Hollywood stars, to writers, artists and filmmakers.

Dubrovnik simply endues its visitors with a sense of grandeur, revealing fascinating tales of a town that was once a prolific and influential maritime city-state called the Republic of Dubrovnik (Ragusa). Walking down its polished stone streets and piazzas, and admiring the Old Town’s fantastically preserved Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture, it’s easy to imagine these times of splendor, when the tourists were merchants from faraway lands and the meticulously restored palaces the lavish dwellings of Dubrovnik’s noble families.

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