Korcula Island – history and tradition of “The Black Beauty”


Rich in vineyards, olive groves and small villages, and harbouring a glorious old town, Korčula Island is the sixth-largest Adriatic island, stretching nearly 47km in length. Dense pine forests led the original Greek settlers to call the island Korkyra Melaina (Black Corfu). Quiet coves and small sandy beaches dot the steep southern coast while the northern shore is flatter and more pebbly.


Excavation findings show us that Stone Age people already recognized the advantages of the island and left their mark in the “Vela Spila” cave near Vela Luka. However, the island was first time ever titled as black by the Greeks, who founded a colony here. Because of the thick dark green forest, then called Korkyra got the addition “melaina” (black). Dense pine forests, holm oaks, cypresses, olive trees and a variety of shrub-land still characterize the island today. The Romans found the name appropriate but used their word for black – “nigra” – as an addition.


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Explore the remarkable Old Town of Korcula

This historical town was built up from local stones on a rocky peninsula, and it represents an outstanding symbiosis between man’s work and the natural environment. One interesting thing about the Old Town of Korcula is that almost every street has steps and Charity Street is the only one without… for that reason, it’s been given the nickname ‘the Street of Thinkers’. All those stone walls and picturesque streets will arouse your imagination and take you back to Korcula’s olden days. Plus, they make for great Instagram photos as well!


Explore Korcula Town Walls

As the majority of old town walls, Korcula Town Walls were built for defensive purpose. In the past Korcula Town was exposed to attacks and local people needed to defend themselves somehow and keep the town secured so it was only natural to build a huge wall around the town. The walls represent a great example of Medieval architecture on Dalmatian islands, making Korcula Town one of Croatia’s best preserved fortified towns. Beside the walls, the entire fortification also includes monuments such as Zakerjan Tower, Kanavelic Tower, Sea Gate Tower, Small and Large Governor’s Tower, Revelin Tower and All Saints Tower.


Visit St. Mark’s Cathedral

It is also called Korcula Cathedral and it is one of the most iconic monuments on the island. The cathedral was built by local master in the 16th century, but the altarpiece was painted by famous Italian painter Tintoretto. On the door pillars, you will notice the naked figures of Adam and Eve, and on the triangular gable cornice at the very top, there is some intriguing detail, specifically a two-tailed mermaid and elephant. Inside, you can find the sarcophagus of St. Theodore, the protector of Korčula, an icon of the Virgin from the 13th century, cannonballs and weapons from wars with the Ottomans, and paintings by the aforementioned Italian master Tintoretto. The cathedral is located in the heart of the town, on the highest point which means it provides the most alluring view of Korčula and the Adriatic Sea. It is not easy to go up, but it is well worth the effort.


Visit Marco Polo’s House and Museum

Although exact date and place of birth of famous Italian merchant are unknown, some historians claim that he was actually born on Korcula Island. Today you will find Marco Polo shops and a museum in Korcula Town containing over 400 product under the brand Marco Polo. This museum allows you to delve into the life of this remarkable explorer and his travels. Through seven remarkable scenes and surprisingly realistic puppets, this museum showcases the life of Marco Polo.


Explore Vela Spila

Located above the town of Vela Luka lies Vela Spila – a large open-air domed cave that has been continuously occupied since the last ice age. The cave is located on the southern slope of hill Pinski rat, 130 m above the Kale bay in Vela Luka, and it is one of the most important archaeological prehistoric sites in Europe. In the Museum of the Center for Culture there are a valuable archeological collection of objects found on this site.



The Korcula Island represents a unique fusion of beautiful nature, thousands of years of cultural tradition and history, and modern tourism. Centuries old olive groves and vineyards, ancient towns and villages on the island which seem as if they have remained lost in some long past time attract tourist from all over the world to this island.