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Korcula City.jpg
Croatia - Korcula.PNG
LocationAdriatic Sea
Coordinates42°57′N 17°07′E / 42.950°N 17.117°E / 42.950; 17.117Coordinates: 42°57′N 17°07′E / 42.950°N 17.117°E / 42.950; 17.117
ArchipelagoSouthern Dalmatian
Area279 km2 (108 sq mi)
Length46.8 km (29.08 mi)
Width7.8 km (4.85 mi)
Highest elevation568 m (1864 ft)
Highest pointKlupca
Largest settlementKorčula (pop. 5,663[1])
Population15,522 (2011)
Pop. density56/km2 (145/sq mi)
Ethnic groups96.77% Croats
Additional information
Official websiteOfficial website

Korčula (Croatian: [kɔ̂ːrtʃula] (listen), Italian: Curzola) is a Croatian island in the Adriatic Sea. It has an area of 279 km2 (108 sq mi), is 46.8 km (29.1 mi) long and on average 7.8 km (4.8 mi) wide,[2] and lies just off the Dalmatian coast. Its 15,522 inhabitants (2011) make it the second most populous Adriatic island after Krk.[3] The population are almost entirely ethnic Croats (95.74%).[4] The island is twinned with Rothesay in Scotland.


Satellite image of Korčula

The island of Korčula belongs to the central Dalmatian archipelago, separated from the Pelješac peninsula by a narrow Strait of Pelješac, between 900 and 3,000 metres (3,000 and 9,800 feet) wide. It stretches in the east–west direction, in length of 47 kilometres (29 miles); on average, it is 8 km (5.0 miles) wide. With an area of 279 square kilometres (108 sq mi), it is the sixth largest Adriatic island. The highest peaks are Klupca, 568 metres (1,864 ft) and Kom, 510 metres (1,670 ft) high.

Main settlements on the island are towns of Korčula, Blato and Vela Luka. Villages along the coast are Brna, Račišće, Lumbarda and Prižba; Žrnovo, Pupnat, Smokvica and Čara are located inland. The island is divided into municipalities of Korčula, Smokvica, Blato and Lumbarda. The climate is Mediterranean; an average air temperature in January is 9.8 °C (49.6 °F) and in July 26.9 °C (80.4 °F); the average annual rainfall is 1,100 mm (43.3 in). The island is largely covered with Mediterranean flora including extensive pine forests.

The main road runs along the spine of the island connecting all settlements from Lumbarda on the eastern to Vela Luka on the western end, with the exception of Račišće, which is served by a separate road running along the northern coast.[citation needed] Ferries connect the city of Korčula with Orebić on the Pelješac peninsula. Another line connects Vela Luka with Split and the island of Lastovo. Fast passenger catamarans connect those two ports with Split , Dubrovnik and the islands of Hvar, Lastovo and Mljet.


Ancient history[edit]

According to legend, the island was founded by Trojan hero Aeneas or his friend Antenor.[5]

The island was first settled by Mesolithic and Neolithic peoples. There is archaeological evidence at the sites of Vela Spila (Big Cave)[6] and at Jakas Cave near the village of Zrnovo. The findings at Vela Spila are on display at the Center for Culture in Vela Luka. The fate of these peoples is not known but the sites do provide a window into their way of life.[citation needed]

The second wave of human settlement was by Illyrians.[7] It is believed that the Illyrians arrived in Balkans approximately 1000 BC.[8] They were semi-nomadic tribal people living from agriculture. There are numerous old stone buildings and fortresses (gradine) left behind by the Illyrians.[9]

Melaina Korkyra (Greek: Μέλαινα Κόρκυρα, "Black Corcyra") was the ancient Cnidian Greek colony founded on Korčula.[10] Greek colonists from Corcyra (Corfu) formed a colony on the island in the 6th century B.C.[citation needed] The Greeks named it "Black Corfu" after their homeland and the dense pine-woods on the island. Greek artifacts, including carved marble tombstones can be found at the local Korčula town museum.

A stone inscription found in Lumbarda (Lumbarda Psephisma) and which is the oldest written stone monument in Croatia,[11] records that Greek settlers from Issa (Vis) founded another colony on the island in the 3rd century BC. The two communities lived peacefully until the Illyrian Wars (220 BC to 219 BC)[12] with the Romans.

The island became part of the Roman province of Illyricum[13] after the Illyrian Wars. Roman migration followed and Roman citizens arrived on the island. Roman villas appeared through the territory of Korčula and there is evidence of an organised agricultural exploitation of the land. There are archaeological remains of Roman Junianum[14] on the island and old church foundations.[15]

In 10 AD Illyricum was split into two provinces, Pannonia and Dalmatia.[16] Korčula became part of the ancient Roman province of Dalmatia.

Middle Ages[edit]

In the 6th century it came under Byzantine rule. The Great Migrations of the 6th and 7th centuries brought Slavic[17] invasions into this region. Along the Dalmatian coast the Slavic peoples poured out of the interior and seized control of the area where the Neretva River enters the Adriatic, as well as the island of Korčula (Corcyra), which protects the river mouth. The Christianisation of the Croats began in the 9th century, but the early Croatian rural inhabitants of the island may well have fully accepted Christianity only later; in the early Middle Ages the Croatian population of the island was grouped with the pagan Narentines or Neretvians, who quickly learned maritime skills in this new environment and became known as pirates.[citation needed]

Initially, Venetian merchants were willing to pay an annual tribute to keep their shipping safe from the infamous Neretvian pirates of the Dalmatian coast. After the 9th century, the island was briefly under nominal Byzantine suzerainty. In 998 the Principality of Pagania came under Venetian control. Doge Pietro II Orseolo launched a naval expedition along the coast and assumed the title Duke of Dalmatia.[18] Afterwards Korčula came under the control of the Great Principality of Zahumlje.

In the 12th century Korčula was conquered by a Venetian nobleman, Pepone Zorzi, and incorporated briefly into the Venetian Republic. Around this time, the local Korčula rulers began to exercise diplomacy and legislate a town charter to secure the independence of the island, particularly with regard to internal affairs, given its powerful neighbors.[citation needed]

South coast of Korčula

The brothers of Stephen Nemanja, Miroslav and Stracimir, launched an attack on the island on 10 August 1184, raiding its fertile western part. The island's inhabitants called for help from the Republic of Ragusa (Dubrovnik), which in turn captured all of Stracimir's galleys.[19]

The Statute of Korčula was first drafted in 1214.[20][21] It guaranteed the autonomy of the island, apart from her outside rulers: the semi-independent Grand Principality of Zahumlje, the Grand Principality of Serbia, and the Republics of Ragusa and Venice. Captains were created for each of the island's five settlements for organized defence. Korčula had fewer than 2,500 inhabitants at that time.[citation needed]

In 1221, Pope Honorius III gave the island to the Princes of Krka (the Šubićs). During the 13th century the hereditary Counts of Korčula were loosely governed in turn by the Hungarian crown and by the Republic of Genoa, and also enjoyed a brief period of independence; but, in 1255, Marsilio Zorzi conquered the island's city and razed or damaged some of its churches in the process, forcing the Counts to return to Venetian supreme rule.[22]

What is more definite is that the Republic of Genoa defeated Venice in the documented Battle of Curzola[23][24] off the coast of Korčula in 1298 and a galley commander, Marco Polo, was taken prisoner by the victors to eventually spend his time in a Genoese prison writing of his travels. However, some Italian scholars believe that he may have been captured in a minor clash near Ayas.[citation needed]

After the writings of Pope Martin IV in 1284 and Pope Honorius IV in 1286 to the Archbishop of Ragusa, the Archbishop installed a certain Petar as Bishop of Ston and Korčula – stacnensis ac Crozolensis. In 1291, Ivan Kručić was in Korčula's city as the Bishop of Korčula. Kručić contested his overlord, the Archbishop of Hvar, and wanted to unite Ston with his church domain. In 1300, Pope Boniface VIII finally founded the Korčula Bishopric under the Archbishopric of Ragusa. In 1333, as the Republic of Ragusa purchased Ston with Pelješac from the Serbian Empire, the suzerainty of Ston's Roman Catholic Church with the peninsula was given to the Bishopric of Korčula.[citation needed]

A panoramic view of the easternmost parts of Korčula, with Lumbarda, City of Korčula and Orebić (Pelješac) from left to right

Curzola, as the Venetians called it, surrendered to the Kingdom of Hungary in 1358 according to the Treaty of Zadar, but it surrendered to the Bosnian King Stefan Tvrtko I in the Summer of 1390. However the Kingdom of Hungary restored rule of the island, and in December 1396 Croatian-Hungarian King Sigismund gave it to Đurađ II Stracimirović of the Balšić dynasty of Zeta, who kept it up to his death in 1403, when it was returned under the Hungarian crown. In 1409 it again became a part of the Venetian Republic, purchased by the neighbouring Republic of Venice in 1413–1417, it still declared itself subjected to Venice in 1420. In 1571 it defended itself so gallantly against the Ottoman attackers at the Battle of Lepanto that it obtained the designation Fidelissima from the Pope.[25]

Venetian and Austrian rule[edit]

Austrian KK stamp cancelled in Italian CURZOLA ca 1863

Korčula had for years supplied the timber for the wooden walls of Venice, and had been a favourite station of her fleets. From 1776 to 1797 Korčula succeeded Hvar as the main Venetian fortified arsenal in this region. According to the Treaty of Campoformio in 1797 in which the Venetian Republic was divided between the French Republic and the Habsburg monarchy, Korčula passed on to the Habsburg Monarchy.[citation needed]

The French Empire invaded the island in 1806, joining it to the Illyrian Provinces. The Montenegrin Forces of Prince-Episcope Peter I Njegos conquered the island with Russian naval assistance[26] in 1807 during his attempt to construct another Serbian Empire. The defeat of Austria however at the battle of Wagram in 1809 had put most of the Adriatic under French control. On 4 February 1813 however, British troops and naval forces under Thomas Fremantle captured the island from the French. This short period of British rule left an important mark on the island; the new stone West quay was built, as well as a semi-circular paved terrace with stone benches on the newly built road towards Lumbarda, and a circular Martello tower, "forteca" on the hill of St. Blaise above the town.[27][28] According to the terms of the Congress of Vienna, the British left the island to the Austrian Empire in 1815 on 19 July in terms of the Congress of Vienna. Korčula accordingly became a part of the Austrian crown land of Dalmatia.[29] From 1867, Korčula was in the Cisleithanian part of Austria-Hungary.

20th century[edit]

During the First World War, the island (among other territorial gains) was promised to the Kingdom of Italy in the 1915 Treaty of London in return for Italy joining the war on the side of Great Britain and France. However, after the war, Korčula became a part (with the rest of Dalmatia) of the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs in 1918. It was ruled by Italy from 1918 to 1921, after which it was incorporated into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, known from 1929 on as the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. It became part of the Province of Dalmatia, before becoming part of the Dubrovnik Oblast [sr] in 1922. The island became part of the Littoral Banate in 1929, and finally, in 1939, it became a part of the autonomous Croatian Banate.[citation needed]

After the Axis occupation of Yugoslavia in April 1941, Italy annexed the island.[30] After the Armistice between Italy and the Allied powers in September 1943, it was briefly held by the Yugoslav Partisans who enjoyed considerable support in the region.[30] Korčula was then occupied by German forces which controlled the island until their withdrawal in September 1944.[31] With the liberation of Yugoslavia in 1945, the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia was formed, and Korčula became a part of the People's Republic of Croatia, one of the six Yugoslav Republics. The state changed the name to Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1953, and so did the Republic into Socialist Republic of Croatia. From 1963 to 1974, the island hosted the Korčula Summer School, a ten-day gathering of the European left.[32] After 1991, the island became a part of the independent Republic of Croatia.[citation needed]


The 17th century saw the rise of Petar Kanavelić who wrote love songs, occasional epic poems and dramas. He also translated from Italian the major poetic works of that time. He is regarded as one of the greatest Croatian writers of 17th century.[33] In 1673 he became the representative of the Korčula community in Venice. There is a primary school named after him in the town of Korčula.

Moreška is a traditional sword dance[34][35] from the town of Korčula. It is one of the many proud traditional sword dances that are performed on the island. It arrived in Korčula around the 16th century. Korčula has a rich musical history of Klape groups. Klapa is a form of a cappella style of singing. The tradition goes back centuries, but the style as we know it today, originated in the 19th century. Oliver Dragojević is a famous Croatian pop singer who comes from the island.

Korčula has a tradition of stonemasonry,[36][37] which reached its peak during the rule of the Venetian Republic (1420–1797).[38] The island also has a very strong art tradition.[39]


Korkyra Baroque Festival[edit]

The Korkyra Baroque Festival is an annual international event, launched in 2012. The festival showcases a selection of the world's leading ensembles and soloists specialized in Baroque music. Over ten days a series of concerts and supporting events focus on Baroque music, promoting the richness of Korčula's cultural monuments and the whole town as a unique architectural treasure.[40]

Notable residents[edit]


A Jadrolinija ferry approaching Korčula harbour

Korčula is linked to the mainland by a regular ferry service that runs between Dominče, just outside Korčula Town and Orebić.[43] There are numerous other local ferry services including one linking Vela Luka and Lastovo.[44] The main Croatian ferry operator Jadrolinija runs a service linking Korčula Town with Rijeka, Split, Hvar, Mljet, Dubrovnik and (from May to September) Bari.[44] An operator Linijska nacionalna plovidba runs a seasonal service linking Korčula with Drvenik.

There are also bus services that link the island to major cities on the mainland, which reach Korčula using the Orebić ferry service.[45]

Korčula town also has mooring facilities. The western harbour gives shelter from wind though not against the bora and north-westerlies. Boat owners are advised to shift to the eastern harbour or to Luka Cove. The port is open to international seaborne traffic as a permanent Port of entry; it offers all types of repairs to hulls and engines at the Brodograditelj Shipyard.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "Population by Age and Sex, by Settlements, 2011 Census: Korčula". Census of Population, Households and Dwellings 2011. Zagreb: Croatian Bureau of Statistics. December 2012.
  2. ^ Duplančić Leder, Tea; Ujević, Tin; Čala, Mendi (June 2004). "Coastline lengths and areas of islands in the Croatian part of the Adriatic Sea determined from the topographic maps at the scale of 1:25 000". Geoadria. Zadar. 9 (1): 5–32. doi:10.15291/geoadria.127. Retrieved 1 December 2019.
  3. ^ Ostroški, Ljiljana, ed. (December 2015). Statistički ljetopis Republike Hrvatske 2015 [Statistical Yearbook of the Republic of Croatia 2015] (PDF). Statistical Yearbook of the Republic of Croatia (in Croatian and English). Vol. 47. Zagreb: Croatian Bureau of Statistics. p. 47. ISSN 1333-3305. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  4. ^ "Population by Ethnicity, by Towns/Municipalities, 2011 Census: County of Dubrovnik-Neretva". Census of Population, Households and Dwellings 2011. Zagreb: Croatian Bureau of Statistics. December 2012.
  5. ^ Dubrovnik: The City and Its Surroundings. A Tourist Guide. 1967. p. 118.
  6. ^ T. Težak-Gregl (December 2005). "Božidar Čečuk i Dinko Radić: Vela spila: A stratified prehistoric site Vela Luka – island of Korčula". Opuscula Archaeologica Papers of the Department of Archaeology. Department of Archaeology, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zagreb. 29 (1). ISSN 0473-0992. Retrieved 27 February 2012.
  7. ^ The Cambridge Ancient History Vol. 11: The High Empire, AD 70–192 by Peter Rathbone
  8. ^ John Wilkes, The Illyrians (The Peoples of Europe); ISBN 0-631-19807-5 (1996)
  9. ^ History of Korčula, Korčula.net; accessed 4 December 2015.
  10. ^ An Inventory of Archaic and Classical Poleis: An Investigation Conducted by The Copenhagen Polis Centre for the Danish National Research Foundation by Mogens Herman Hansen, 2005, Index
  11. ^ Syll.³ 141 - English translation.
  12. ^ Wilkes, J. J. The Illyrians, 1992, p. 120, ISBN 0-631-19807-5, p. 160
  13. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, 2002; ISBN 0852297874.
    • The Roman province of Illyricum stretched from the Drilon River (the Drin, in modern Albania) in the south to Istria (modem Slovenia and Croatia)
  14. ^ Croatian Adriatic: History, Culture, Art & Natural beauties
  15. ^ "Church of Our Lady of Poja", crkve.prizba.net; accessed 4 December 2015.
  16. ^ John Everett-Healu. "Dalmatia" profile, Concise Dictionary of World Place-Names, Oxford University Press (2005). Encyclopedia.com
  17. ^ A History of the Croatian by Francis Ralph Preveden (1955)
  18. ^ Frederic Chapin Lane, Venice, a Maritime Republic, Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1973; ISBN 978-0-8018-1445-7, p. 26.
  19. ^ Robin Harris, Dubrovnik: A History (page 37)], books.google.com; accessed 4 December 2015.
  20. ^ Korčulanski Statut: Statut Grada i Otoka Korčule iz 1214 Godine. English chapter-page 195
  21. ^ Korčula Statute Archived 16 March 2013 at the Wayback Machine, korculainfo.com; accessed 4 December 2015.
  22. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Curzola" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 7 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 665.
  23. ^ David S. Kelly, "Genoa and Venice: An Early Commercial Rivalry" in William R. Thompson, ed., Great Power Rivalries, Columbia, South Carolina: University of South Carolina, 1999, ISBN 978-1-57003-279-0, pp. 125–71, p. 142.
  24. ^ Angeliki E. Laiou, Constantinople and the Latins: The Foreign Policy of Andronicus II, 1282–1328, Harvard historical studies 88, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard, 1972; ISBN 978-0-674-16535-9, p. 108
  25. ^ Korčula korcula.net; accessed 4 December 2015.
  26. ^ Dalmatia and Montenegro by J. Gardner Wilkinson
  27. ^ "Travel Guide to Korčula - Croatia". KorčulaINFO.com. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
  28. ^ "200th anniversary of British Navy's occupation of Korčula". Croatian Times. CMS. Retrieved 7 June 2013.
  29. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Dalmatia" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 7 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 776.
  30. ^ a b Barčot 2011, p. 314.
  31. ^ Barčot 2011, p. 356.
  32. ^ Yugoslavia’s rebel communist summer school Retrieved 23 August 2022.
  33. ^ Hrvatski Biografski Leksikon
  34. ^ "The Moreska Dance". korculainfo.com. Retrieved 31 December 2009.
  35. ^ "Moreska". korcula.net. Retrieved 31 December 2009.
  36. ^ Dimension Stone, New Perspectives for a Traditional Building Material by Richard Prikryl. Chapter: Historical Review of Exploitation & Utilisation of Stone in Croatia/page 32.
  37. ^ Korčula and Stone Masonry Archived 24 November 2009 at the Wayback Machine Korčulainfo.com
  38. ^ Isolation, Migration & Health/Population Structure in the Adriatic: 33rd Symposium Volume of the Society by Derek Frank Roberts, Norio Fujiki, K. Torizuka & Kanji Torizuka
  39. ^ "Korčula Art". korculainfo.com. Retrieved 31 December 2009.
  40. ^ "Korkyra Baroque – 8. Barokni festival na Korčuli". Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  41. ^ Obituary of Veronica Lady Maclean, timesonline.co.uk, 19 January 2005. Accessed 10 July 2011
  42. ^ Maksimilijan Vanka reference, korculainfo.com; accessed 4 December 2015.
  43. ^ "Ferry Korčula-Orebić-Korčula". Korčula Info. Retrieved 23 August 2008.
  44. ^ a b "Ferries Korčula". Korčula Info. Retrieved 23 August 2008.
  45. ^ "Korčula buses". Korčula Info. Retrieved 23 August 2008.


  • Barčot, Tonko (December 2011). "Vlast Nezavisne Države Hrvatske na otoku Korčuli" [The administration of the Independent State of Croatia on the island of Korčula]. Radovi Zavoda Za Povijesne Znanosti HAZU U Zadru (in Croatian). Institute for Historical Sciences of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Zadar (53): 313–358. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
  • Cresswell, Peterjon; Atkins, Ismay; Dunn, Lily (2006). Time Out Croatia (First ed.). London, Berkeley & Toronto: Time Out Group Ltd & Ebury Publishing, Random House Ltd. 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London SV1V 2SA. ISBN 978-1-904978-70-1.

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