South-East Europe roadtrip: Stop #3 – Korčula

A view at bay and Korčula Old Town surrounded with fortifications, as seen from the promenade.

After beautiful Budapest at night and adventures in Bosnia and Herzegovina, we finally arrived to Croatia. It was Croatia that was the main destination of our trip and here we spent most of the time. Sightseeing cities, swimming in the warm Adriatic sea and visiting National Parks, it was a pleasant addition to the most important thing – the wedding of our friends and amazing half Croatian-half Polish wedding reception.

Korčula

From Kravice Falls we were on a tight schedule to make it for the last ferry sailing from Orebić to Korčula. It’s one of the biggest islands on Adriatic and it combines the most beautiful nature with diverse culture and history, all in a tourist-friendly form. On this mountainous island, among dense forests, olive groves and vineyards, numerous beaches and bays are hidden. Luxury hotels and holiday houses blend in into old settlements, that seem to be lost in some past times. All this creates an amazing atmosphere of Korčula that we could enjoy for a couple of days.

A view at promenade in Korčula, white stone buildings and a row of palm trees.
Promenade in Korčula

The biggest city on the island is located on north-east end Korčula (yes – the city holds the same name as the island). It’s one of the most preserved medieval cities in Croatia. Historic city center was built on a small, oval peninsula and surrounded with fortifications and semicircular towers in XV century. Apart from center and Baroque part of town just outside of fortifications, the city consists also from newer districts, located along the coast – to east and to west from the Old Town. Among most characteristic elements of the fortifications are most certainly loggia, two circular towers: Barbarigo and Balbi, City Gates and monumental Neo-Baroque stairway, leading from the port to the square in front of the cathedral. We walked those stairs a lot during our walks along a lovely promenade.

St. Marcus Cathedral, located in the very center of the Old Town, was built on fundamentals of previous church from XIII century. In 1525 under guidance of local artisan a big chapel of St. Roch was added to the cathedral – it was built to protect citizens from the plague (Black Death). Inside the cathedral there’s an eye-catching, stone ciborium over the main altar, looking like a subtle canopy, and a XIII-century relief representing lambs. Near to the cathedral there’s St. Peter’s Church built in XI century. When standing in a certain distance from the entry to that church, one can see a tower coming out from a house, that is believed to be a birthplace of the famous traveler – Marco Polo. There’s a museum of his name in that building. Also next to St. Peter’s Church is Bishop’s Palace – a Baroque-Renaissance compound with a treasury. Korčula was diocese center for over 500 years.

A view at City Gate at night in Korčula.
Korčula at night

In front of cathedral there are two palaces, constructed of local white stone. One of them, once belonging to patrician named Arner, has a nice renaissance backyard. The other one – Palace Gabrielis – is a City Museum. One can see different exhibits related to shipyard, stone sculptures and Korčula’s artists gallery.

Moving along toward City Gates, on a small square there’s a city hall (Gradska vijećnica) with arcades from 1525. In front of the city hall is standing a very characteristic column from 1569, next to which a chapel Gospe od Ploča was built. In front of the city hall there’s a small church from 1408, dedicated to St. Michael. All those historical monuments, numerous alleys and stairways are creating atmosphere of a small, medieval stronghold. Living in one of those small alleys, just behind the cathedral, we had a lot of opportunities to see closely all the parts of the Old Town.

Half Croatian-half Polish wedding

As we mentioned, our main reason for coming to Croatia (and therefore South-East Europe roadtrip) was our friends’ wedding. Some of you may be interested how mixed Croatian-Polish wedding looks like, so we’ll try to describe it briefly from our point of view 😉

On Friday evening, when we got to the island, the Groom welcomed us in a company of his brothers-in-law-to-be. They showed us the way to the apartment, lent us the parking card and gave us instructions on where and when to appear the next day. All that because wedding celebrations start before the ceremony in church. According to the tradition, all the guests come to the Bride’s house, where they all wait for the Groom – there’s music and some treats to help people introduce to each other. In ours friends case it was other way around – Marcin was welcoming guests, while Elza was doing the last preparations. More cars were parking in front of the house, musicians with accompaniment of guitars were singing Croatians songs, guests were enjoying snacks and drinks – it looked like a wedding reception much before the wedding.

Wedding guests dancing in front of the Bride's house and two men waving Polish and Croatian flags.
In front of the Bride’s house

Finally, both the Bride and Groom showed up together in the garden. They looked charming – she had a beautiful lace dress, and he was wearing elegant, navy blue suit. Guests started congratulating and wishing them all the best. When it was time to go to church, all the guests, led by musicians, went in front of the house. The Young Couple and some of the guests were dancing to the music and two men were waving flags – Croatian and Polish. The rest of the guests were signing and clapping their hands. After that, all went into their cars and formed a long row – the first one with the Young Couple and both flags, and after them all the guests. When all started moving, it seemed like there was no end.

After arriving to the center of Korčula, all the guests, led by the Young Couple, walked to the cathedral – the whole way with the accompaniment of Croatian music. The mass itself was special, because it was conducted in both languages. After the mass, parents and siblings of both Elza and Marcin symbolically congratulated and welcomed each other to the family, and after a photo session in cathedral, all people went outside and started dancing and celebrating for a while in front of the church.

On the wedding hall all the guests were first welcomed with refreshing drinks. Just after that everybody was placed by the tables and the band officially started the reception by greeting the guests. After that they announced (and invited) the bridesmaid and the best man, and the Young Couple, who entered the hall in a great applause. After the dinner and speeches the party started for good.

One more characteristic point of the reception was the wedding cake. Very nicely looking (and delicious!) cake was decorated with sesame figure on the top. Elza and Marcin had to shatter it while holding the knife together. Every guest received a piece of that decoration along with their cake share.

This exceptional reception was lasting until the early morning. And after it has officially ended, together with the Young Couple and some other guests we moved the party to seaside. We spend there some time talking, laughing and discussing all the things that happened that day.

Beach time

Korčula island coast line 190 kilometers long, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that despite steep and rocky shores it has many beautiful beaches. Most of them are quite rocky, but there are some with the sand, like Vela Pržina, which we visited on Sunday afternoon to rest after the wedding from the day before. It’s one of the most popular beaches on the island. Located on the south-east, close to Lumbarda, it offers a broad view over the sea and Lastovo island. Vela Pržina is a perfect place for families with children, because the waters are rather shallow on a long distance.

A view at bay and Pupnatska Luka beach, on Korčula island.
Pupnatska Luka

The other beach we visited on Korčula was Pupnatska Luka. Great looking gravel beach, with crystal clear water, and it’s only 15 kilometers from Korčula city. The beach is surrounded by hills, what makes it shielded from strong winds, but at the same time the path is not very steep, so you don’t get exhausted walking from/to parking. We actually liked Pupnatska Luka much more than Vela Pržina. Despite having much rockier shore, it was deeper and had some amazing underwater views. Here Patrycja tried her first snorkeling – and she started to like it 😉

Apart from Korčula, we’ve also been snorkeling on two beaches on mainland – both next to our campsites. The beach in Orašac was very similar to Pupnatska Luka. Bright, rocky beach, surrounded by hills, with a picturesque view over the sea and interesting underwater life. The beach in Omiš was more like Vela Pržine – long, sandy beach with a mild and long water entrance. Sadly, we had to wear snorkeling swim suits here, because the weather got bad and it was a bit cold. But it was 4 October, so we guess it wasn’t that bad after all.

 

Practical tips:

  • On KorculaInfo.com website you can find all the necessary information on how to get to Korčula – along with ticket prices and ferry schedules.
  • Accommodation prices in Korčula start from 20 – 25 EUR/night (double room). Most popular services that can help when looking for apartment are: www.airbnb.com (you’ll get 35 USD discount if you’ll register using this link), www.wimdu.com or www.booking.com.
  • Marco Polo Museum is open every day in the summer season. The opening hours are from 9:00 to 24:00, and the fee is 60 HRK (9 USD).

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