From Mljet we continued 15 nm north to the Island of Korčula. Known for its dense forest, the ancient Greeks called it Black Korčula (Kerkyra melaina). The island of Korčula is twinned with Rothesay in Scotland.
Korčula is believed to be the birth place of Marco Polo (1254- 1324) who was captured in the Korčula archipelago in 1298 during a naval battle between Genoa and Venice. While imprisoned, Marco Polo wrote the book ‘The Travels of Marco Polo’ about his journey to Asia and his adventures at the court of Kublai Khan. Although, it is commonly accepted that the book was not written by Polo but by the 13th-century romantic author Rustichello of Pisa. The two met while in prison, where Polo dictated the stories of his travels.
We anchored in Uvala Račišće, a very sheltered bay within Lumbarda, a small fishermen’s village located on the eastern end of the Island.
Around the bay there are a couple of restaurants and several houses, some with well kept flower gardens.
The main town of Korčula is just a few kilometres away situated on the north-eastern side of the Island. We went on a short bus ride which took us through pine woods and olive groves to the town.
Korčula old town is one of the best preserved Medieval walled towns in the Mediterranean. It is surrounded on 3 sides by the sea and has a mixture of gothic, renaissance and baroque buildings. It is known as “Little Dubrovnik” because of its medieval squares, churches, palaces and houses.
We walked through the grand Land Gate into the old town
The town used to be surrounded by high defensive walls built in the 13th, 14th and 15th century. The walls and fortresses protected its strategic location in the past. Part of the walls and some of the towers still stand.
The main street stretches through the town centre dividing it into the eastern and western part. The narrow streets are laid out in the form of a fishbone, this design had a dual purpose. Firstly, so that the winds blowing from the sea always pass through the town to provide the inhabitants with comfort and safety from the elements, and secondly, to provide rapid access to the towns fortifications in times of danger.
The most impressive building, dominating a small square, is St. Mark’s Cathedral which stands in the middle of the town and was built over the 15th and 16th centuries from Korčula limestone.
Apparently the best view of the town is from the top of the bell tower so we climbed the narrow staircase to the top.
Although only room for one person on the stairs it was not one way, also the area at the top was rather narrow, I imagine it must be very difficult in busy times, thankfully we had it to ourselves. We did check the bell ringing times before we went up to ensure that we weren’t going to be deafened while we were up there!
From the top the view was spectacular, you can see all of the old town with its red rooftops, the harbour and the surrounding sea.
After descending the tower we walked along the walls by the waterfront where we found a lovely spot for lunch. Nice background!
It was a very comfortable anchorage here so we stayed for a few nights. We were then getting low on water so planned to visit a nearby fuel dock in the hope that they would also have water, unfortunately there was no water on offer but we refuelled anyway. We headed 23 nm across to Šćedro island. Thankfully we had a force 4-5 westerly wind and managed to sail for the majority of the journey ……although as we were directly into the wind, it did involve a lot of ‘zigzagging’ back and forth into a choppy sea! We arrived at Uvala Lovišće where we moored with buoys attached forward and aft. A pretty little bay surrounded by trees and two restaurants.
Šćedro island is a Nature Park, and only accessible by boat or helicopter. The name comes from štedri, meaning charitable in old Slavonic, because the island has two deep, well-protected coves where ships would take refuge.
According to the statute in 1331, the land was communal property and reserved for general pasturing and the Island had an active farming and fishing industry. Nowadays there are just four permanent residents, with the number rising to 21 in the summer. The fields are still farmed, and a variety of crops are cultivated especially for producing olive oil, wine and honey.
The island does not have mains electricity or running water. Energy is provided by solar power and water is supplied from rainwater tanks.
A group called ‘Friends of Šćedro Island Association’ was formed in 2011 to ensure that the island is not neglected. They have organised several clean-up operations on land and sea each year. They also take care of the island’s wildlife. Tourism is now the main source of income.
We went ashore and took a walk along the well kept trails. The Island is full of vegetation and you can smell the wild herbs (sage, rosemary, oregano) as you walk through the forest.
There were some ruins of old stone buildings.
We came across these old anchors on display.
We went to the top to enjoy the 360° view of the surrounding islands.
When we got back down to the bay ZigZag was waiting all alone except a few little wooden fishing boats