From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Palagruža Lighthouse
Lighthouse at Palagruža.jpg
LocationPalagruža Island, Croatia
Coordinates42°23′34″N 16°15′32″E / 42.392863°N 16.258828°E / 42.392863; 16.258828Coordinates: 42°23′34″N 16°15′32″E / 42.392863°N 16.258828°E / 42.392863; 16.258828
Constructionstone tower
Height23 metres (75 ft)
Shapecylindrical tower with balcony and lantern rising at the center of 2-story keeper’s house[1]
Markingsunpainted tower, white lantern
Power sourcesolar power Edit this on Wikidata
Focal height110 metres (360 ft)
Rangemain: 26 nautical miles (48 km; 30 mi)
reserve: 12 nautical miles (22 km; 14 mi)
CharacteristicFl W 17.5s.
Vela Palagruža and the lighthouse

Palagruža (pronounced [palǎɡruːʒa];[2] Italian: Pelagosa) is a small Croatian archipelago in the middle of the Adriatic Sea. It consists of one larger island, called Vela or Velika ('Great') Palagruža, and a smaller one, Mala ('Little') Palagruža, as well as a dozen nearby rocks and reefs composed of dolomite. All the main islets are in the form of steep ridges.

The place is some 123 km (76 mi) south of Split, Croatia, and 53 km (33 mi) east of the Gargano peninsula, Italy. It is visible from land only from other remote islands of Italy and Croatia. Palagruža is further south than the mainland peninsula of Prevlaka, making it the southernmost point of the Republic of Croatia.[3] It is uninhabited, except by lighthouse staff and occasional summer tourists. It can be reached only by a chartered motorboat, requiring a journey of two to three hours from the island of Korčula.


The place is known in Italian as Pelagosa, derived from Ancient Greek Pelagousae (Πελαγούσαι, 'sea'). This is the source of the current Croatian name, as well as of the name of pelagosite. Gruž also means 'ballast' in Croatian, and the term is therefore well known in two ways to seafarers.

Greeks also called them, Islands of Diomedes (Διομήδειοι).[4] One of the islands was called Diomedia (Διομήδεια), because according to the legend the Diomedes was buried there.[5][6]

Legend and history[edit]

For some, Palagruža is associated with the Homeric hero Diomedes, King of Argos, who is reputed to be buried here, though it is hard to imagine where. Speculation is fueled by the discovery of a painted 6th-century BC Greek potsherd with the name Diomed[es] on it (see image on Adriatica), making a shrine by the Cult of Diomedes on Palagruža seem plausible. Pliny the Elder write that on Diomedia there was a monument of Diomedes.[7]

Authentic archaeological finds of the Neolithic, Greek,[8][9] Roman, and early medieval periods have been recorded.

It is recorded that the galley-fleet of Pope Alexander III landed on Palagruža on 9 March 1177.[10][11]

In the 15th and 16th centuries, there was a rise in fishing in the area, making the island the centre of a traditional fishing-ground of the community of Komiža, island of Vis, Croatia.[12][13]

Palagruža is closer to Italy than to the Croatian mainland, being some 42 km (26 mi) from Monte Gargano. Before 1861, it belonged to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, and after 1861 therefore to the Kingdom of Italy, but was unilaterally occupied by Austria-Hungary in 1873, without any declaration of war. The first action of the new authorities was to build the important lighthouse mentioned above, in 1875.

After Italy's entry into the First World War, the country's armed forces occupied the island. Italy's Regia Marina submarine Nereide was sunk there on the 5th of August 1915 by Austria-Hungary's Imperial and Royal War Navy submarine U-5.

It reverted to Italy between the two World Wars, as part of the Province of Zara (now Zadar, Croatia), and was ceded to Yugoslavia in 1947. Since the break-up of Yugoslavia, it has formed part of the sovereign country of Croatia.

Diomedes Birds[edit]

Antoninus Liberalis write that after the death of Diomedes, the Illyrians attacked the island and killed all the Dorians there, but Zeus disappeared their bodies and turned their souls into birds. These birds flee from the foreigners but approach the Greeks.[5]

Aristotelian Corpus mention that on the island there were big birds which sit around the Diomedes shrine in a circle and that these birds were the companions of Diomedes. When Greeks come to the island they are quiet, but if foreigners land they attack them.[14]

Lycophron also wrote about the companions of Diomedes who turned into seabirds and their friendly behavior towards the Greeks.[15]

Strabo write that according to some myths, Diomedes companions were turned into birds and they are tame towards honorable men and flight from wicked and knavish men.[16]

Aelian write that on the island there were many shearwaters and these birds did not approach the foreigners, but they approach and welcome the Greeks and that according to legend, the birds were companions of Diomedes and fought together with him at Troy but later they changed into birds, but they preserved their Greek nature.[17]

Solinus write that on the island there were the tomb of Diomedes and a shrine dedicated to him and that the island had some kind of birds which cannot be found anywhere else and are called Diomedes birds.[18]

Augustine wrote that the birds were flying around the temple, and they fill their beaks with water and sprinkle it in the temple and also that they attack the foreigners but welcome the Greeks.[19] Stephanus of Byzantium also mention the birds.[20]

The biological family of Diomedeidae, in which Albatross belong, and the genus name for the great albatrosses, Diomedea comes from the metamorphosis of the companions of Diomedes into birds.[21]

Topography, economy and ecology[edit]

Vela Palagruža is some 1,400 metres (4,600 feet) long and 330 metres (1,080 feet) wide.[22] The highest point of the archipelago, on Vela Palagruža (Italian: Pelagosa Grande), is about 90 metres (300 feet) above sea level, and on this elevation is a lighthouse.[23] Palagruža is surrounded by dangerous waters, and landing can be difficult. It is uninhabited, except by lighthouse staff and by summer tourists who occupy two units of residential accommodation.[24] There is one beach of golden sand. The lighthouse is also the site of a meteorological station. Other important islands in this archipelago are Mala Palagruža (Italian: Pelagosa Piccola), Galijula (Italian: Caiola) and Kamik od Tramuntane (Italian: Sasso di Tramontana)

Palagruža sits in the heart of fish-rich seas, including spawning grounds of sardines.[25] It is a nature reserve, and the small amount of vegetation is of the Mediterranean type, for instance oleander (Nerium oleander) and tree spurge (Euphorbia dendroides). There are endemic plant species including a type of knapweed, Centaurea friderici Vis. (Palagruška zečina ). The algae, and their role in the production of the local mineral pelagosite, have been the subject of academic study (Montanari et al. 2007). The distinctive local fauna, including the black lizard now classed as Podarcis melisellenis ssp. fiumana and the related Podarcis sicula ssp. pelagosana (primorska gušterica in Croatian), was mentioned first by Babić and Rössler (1912).


Velika Palagruža is an apical part of subsurface geological complex, composed of carbonate, siliciclastic and evaporite rocks of different ages, ranging from Triassic (approx. 220 mil. years ago), through Miocene (approx. 10 mil. years ago), to Quaternary (recent deposition).[26]


Palagruza (Palagruža, Croatia)
Climate chart (explanation)
Average max. and min. temperatures in °C
Precipitation totals in mm
Source: Klima Palagruže (

Palagruža has a weather station, established in 1894, which represents a major indicator of weather, especially wind, waves and precipitation on the open Adriatic. Weather conditions on the central Adriatic are dictated by movements of low-pressure area, which causes frequent changes of bora and scirocco (jugo) winds. Annually, Palagruža Island has 104 days with strong (6-7 Bf), and 21 days with stormy winds (>8 Bf).[27]

Due to its remote position in the middle of the sea, Palagruža exhibits more Mediterranean climate features than the Croatian coast. Summers are sunny and dry, while most of the rain falls in winter months. There are 2620 sunshine hours annually (1961–1990 average). Annual precipitation level of 304 mm (12.0 in) is the lowest of all Croatia. Maritime winds temper air temperatures compared with the mainland, with average summer daily highs of 26.5 °C (79.7 °F); on the other extreme, winter average daily lows are 8.4 °C (47.1 °F).[27]

Flora and fauna[edit]

Lizard on Palagruža

There are not many types of creatures on this island but the ones that do live there are bright and colourful. Some snakes are venomous but are mostly harmless.[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rowlett, Russ. "Lighthouses of Southern Croatia". The Lighthouse Directory. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved January 15, 2016.
  2. ^ "Palàgrūža". Hrvatski jezični portal. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  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. 46. ISSN 1333-3305. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  4. ^ Strabo, Geography, 2.5.20
  5. ^ a b Antoninus Liberalis, Metamorphoses, 37
  6. ^ Pseudo Scymnus or Pausanias of Damascus, Circuit of the Earth, 425
  7. ^ Pliny the Elder, Natural History, 3.30.1
  8. ^ Branko Kirigin, Alan Johnston, Marko Vučetić and Zvonimir Lušić (2009). "Palagruža - The Island of Diomedes - and Notes on Ancient Greek Navigation in the Adriatic" (PDF). In Staso Forenbaher (ed.). A Connecting Sea: Maritime Interaction in Adriatic Prehistory. 13th Annual Meeting of the European Association of Archaeologists. Zadar, Croatia: 18-23 September 2007. BAR International Series. Vol. 2037. Oxford: Archaeopress. ISBN 978-1-4073-0614-8.{{cite conference}}: CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  9. ^ Lorenzo Braccesi (1998). Hesperia 9. L'ERMA di BRETSCHNEIDER. p. 80. ISBN 9788882650087.
  10. ^ Kovačić 1997, pp. 39–40.
  11. ^ Gamulin 2000, pp. 1–2.
  12. ^ Kovačić 1997, pp. 40–41.
  13. ^ Gamulin 2000, p. 1.
  14. ^ Aristotelian Corpus, On Marvelous Things Heard, 27.79
  15. ^ Lycophron, Alexandra, 594
  16. ^ <Strabo, Geography, 6.3.9
  17. ^ Aelian, Characteristics of Animals, 1.1
  18. ^ Solinus, Polyhistor, 2.45
  19. ^ Augustine, City of God Bk. 18, 18.16
  20. ^ Stephanus of Byzantium, Ethnica, D231.15
  21. ^ Gotch, A. F. (1995) [1979]. "Albatrosses, Fulmars, Shearwaters, and Petrels". Latin Names Explained. A Guide to the Scientific Classifications of Reptiles, Birds & Mammals. New York, NY: Facts on File. p. 190. ISBN 0-8160-3377-3.
  22. ^ Forenbaher & Kaiser 1997, p. 15.
  23. ^ Palagruza
  24. ^ Croatia Southern Dalmatia-Palagruza
  25. ^ Božanić 1984.
  26. ^ Korbar 2009.
  27. ^ a b Trošić Ž, Jašić D, Marinković V (2003), "Climatic features of Palagruža Island, Croatia" (pdf), Geoadria (in Croatian), College of Maritime Studies, Split, 8 (1), retrieved 3 January 2015
  28. ^ The Natural Heritage of Croatia/page 211


Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]