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The Town of Korcula

The historical centre of the island is built on a small peninsula which narrows the passage between the island and the mainland to bare 1270 metres. The very possibility of the control of navigation of galleys and sailing boats along the eastern coast of the Adriatic at this place was the cause of the foundation of the small town-fortress, which issued this important service to various masters. In its present form it develops rapidly from the 13th century, the century of the proclamation of the Statute, coming of the dukes from the Venetian family Zorzi, the century of Marko Polo.

The town walls and towers, from that time on, are ever higher and stronger, and houses and churches are ever higher and more comfortable. The town is at the peak of its might in the 16th century when it could "receive 6.000 inhabitants". The building is quite concentrated; "the whole city enclosed by walls does not surpass by its surface one modern football stadium"; some experts compare the Middle Age Korcula and its narrow streets with Manhattan. The town impressed many medieval writers and travel writers, and it deterred, by its fortification, many invaders.

The reasons of defence dictated the enclosing of its citizens in secure city walls, the space in the suburbs is forbidden for any building, and two monasteries outside the town. Dominican monastery of St. Nicola, 500 metres west from the town, and the Franciscan monastery on the island of Badija, are an often target of brigands and enemies. The first workshops outside the town are built in the 17th century only, and the first dwelling houses outside the city walls ar built in the 18th century.

The parts of the town, Sveti Nikola (west of the town) and Borak (south and east of the town) are built in the 19th century. Between 1921 and 1941, the building of the hotels and villas in the bay Luka - east of the town - begins; and also in the bay of Strecica, west of the town; an intensive building lasts on the locations around the bay Luka: Zagradac, Ekonomija, Sveti Antun, Domince and Soline.

By the main town street - the Street of the Korcula Statute from 1214 - we arrive to the elevation of the Cathedral Square. The biggest and the most beautiful building of Korcula - the Cathedral of St. Marco - is on the top of the town. South from it, there is the Bishop's Palace (1342;1653/1860) where the Abbatial Treasury of St. Marco is placed today with a rich collection of Croatian and Italian Renaissance artists, a collection of manuscripts and books and a collection of the ceremonial clothes. North from the Cathedral, there is a small church of St. Peter - probably the oldest preserved church in the town from the 11th century/1388 - in which the Renaissance portal of the master Bonino da Milano and the wooden statues of the apostles are situated - the work of the Venetian sculptors from the 18th century.

On the western side of the square, there is Crkva Gospojina (Church of Our Lady) from 1483, the Renaissance work of the local builders, where the tombs of the historical Korcula families are situated as well as the tomb of the defender from Turkish assault, the priest Rozanovic. There are also beautifully decorated gravestones, and a big mosaic of the Dutch artist Louis Schrikkela on the altar, from 1964-67. There is a flag column on the square next to the Crkva Gospojina from 1515. From the Crkva Gospojina towards the north, there are palaces Arneri and Gabrielis.

The Town Museum is situated in the palace Gabrielis, one of the most beautiful Korcula palaces, in the Renaissance style from the 16th century. From the palace Gabrielis towards the sea, there is the palace Ismaelis from the 16th century with beautiful courtyard. The neighbouring palace Arneri, which is being renovated from 1988-1996, will be the home to the gallery of one of the greatest Croatian sculptors, Frano Krsinic, born in Lumbarda (1897-1982). Beside the artistically valuable courtyard of the palace Arneri, the windows and the wall of the same palace in the south street are decorated with excellent building and sculpturing details.

We descend from the Cathedral Square to the north town tower Zakrjan. In the first right street, there is the family house of the traveller Marko Polo. Together with several inscriptions and exhibits which remind of the great traveller and explorer, there is an interesting view from the family tower-observation post. The greatest traveller and explorer of all times, Marko Polo, was born here (Korcula 1254-Venice 1324).

Left from the tower Zakrjan, in the street above the hotel "Korcula", there is the native house of the poet Kanavelic (the present restaurant) with the small church of Annonciation, further on, there is the house of the noble family Spanic with attractive courtyard, and the church of St. Barbara from 1407, which is an Orthodox church from 1928.

Continuing further towards south by the street above the city wall and the public cistern "Trepoca", we arrive to the Square of Arms, where the arms were distributed to the citizens in case of the enemy attack. One went before to the theatre from this square, but it was destroyed in one of the bombardments in the Second World War.

The street at the south side of the square - Ulica od fonda (Street of Granary) - leads along the then town granary towards the square in front of the Town Hall, and further on towards the eastern city wall and the church of All Saints - the first Korcula cathedral - and the house of the oldest brotherhood.

PunatThe walking around the town begins with Punat - bridge - by which one enters the town. West from the Land Door, there is a preserved part of the south town wall and today's summer stage. Prison Tower from 1445 is built in the wall of the management house of the Mediteranska plovidba (Shipping Line). Two towers continue from the management house: higher and slimmer one is Prince's Small Palace from 1130/1449, and lower and wider one is Prine's Big Palace from 1483. There are plaques with the dates memorising the Second World War on it. From these towers towards the north, there extends the reconstructed town wall with deep arcades behind which are situated various port offices (port captain, customs, administration of the port...). Further on, there is a part of the wall with the oldest town cistern of drinkable water "Trepoca" (Tre pozi) from 1437. The Tower of Sea Door from 1265/1448 lost its function when the town "surrendered" in front of the tourists, by the decision of the Town Council from 1907, when the part of the old wall was removed and a new splendid neoclassical staircase was built.

On the tower there are court of arms and the inscription to the honour of the Trojan hero Antenor, who, according to the medieval legend, founded Korcula. There are today two obelisks (from 1589 and 1680) devoted to the town princes Alviseo Polani and Pellegrin Pasqualigo. North from the entrance staircase, there is "Loza" (Loggia) from 1548. It was for centuries the only building outside the town walls, and it had various assignments - from the police and customs control station to the travellers' waiting room.

The adjoining hotel "Korcula" was built as a cafe in 1871 already, in the time when the city walls and towers were pulled down. Namely, the Ministry of war from Vienna informs the town authorities in 1863 that it turns back to the town the towers and city walls as unnecessary, and that it would not pay the expenses of the maintenance any more. The Town Council responded with the pulling down of the greatest part of the city walls except of the south part, and by pulling down of three towers. In 1912, the then Hotel de la ville became the first Korcula modern hotel when the first floor with rooms was built. A special attraction of the hotel "Korcula" is its terrace from which one can enjoy the sunsets, especially in the early summer when the sun sets in the middle of the channel.

The northwest part of the town is protected by the tower Bokar (Barbarigo) from 1485, and the tower Zakrjan (Kerjan) from 1481 is on the north. Between the tower Zakrjan and Rampada (the modern name for the remnants of the Tower All Saints from 1493) there were another two towers pulled down in the 19th century: the tower Parilo and the Tower of the New Gate. The walls and the foundations of an older tower - Small Tower of All Saints, pulled down in 1879 - are visible today on the very Rampada.

From Rampada towards the Land Gate, there is Arsenal from 1572, built in the time when the importance of Korcula for the Venetian Republic was growing. Venice had the winter anchoring of its war fleet in Korcula in the 18th century. The space between the Arsenal and the Tower of the Land Gate was supervised by the tower Revelin from 1485. It is built in the present dwelling house.

Leaving the medieval town we descend across Punat (Bridge) towards Plokata of 19th April 1921. Here, we can find, on the modern main square, the memorial fountain memorising the date of June 13 1986 when water from the aqueduct from the river Neretva began to flow liberating thus the Korculans from the centuries long nightmare of the lack of drinkable water. A few steps from the memorial fountain, we find ourselves in front of the church St. Justina. There was a church on that place to the honour of St. Sergius and St. Bakh which was destroyed and damaged several times during the attacks on the town. The present church of St. Justina was being built from 1860 until 1897. The paintings from the previous church of St. Vlaho are kept there. The statue of the resurrected Christ on the dome of the church is the work of the sculptor Radica.

Towards the west, on the place of the old "skver" (small shipyard) Sessa, there is today the monument to the Korculans fallen in the Second World War. The whole complex is the work of Bernardo Bernardi, Croatian architect from Korcula. Four reliefs depicting the traditional crafts and professions are the work of another respected Korcula artist, the sculptor Vinko Fabris.

Walking along the seaside we come to the Cap of St. Nicola and the beautiful private villa of the Croatian sculptor Maksimilijan Vanka (1889-1963) amidst the fenced garden at the historical point of the windmill (Cap of the Scaffoldings). Here is also the Dominican monastery of St. Nicola with the church which was built in 1505, and extended with the eastern aisle in 1665. The altar of the western aisle is decorated by the valuable copy of Tizian's painting "Torturing of Saint Peter". The original was damaged in the meantime and the copy remained, made in the master's school.

The monastery possesses, Beside this painting and the painting by the painter Poncun "Miracle of St. Dominic in Surian", numerous other works of art, and a rich library. The building of the monastery is partly fortified because it experienced several attacks during its history. There is a very picturesque "mandrac" - a small port for the monastery boats - nearby.

We come, by the street of Bernardo Bernardi, above the town to the top of the hill where "Forteca" - the English tower Fort Wellington - is situated. It was built in 1813 on the place of the Venetian fortification of the open type from 1616, and the French fortification of the "redoute" type from 1803-1813. The remnants of these defence walls can be seen still, and the church of St. Vlaho was pulled down during the building of the English tower. From this hill and the very tower, which today serves as the telecommunication station, a wonderful view extends to the Korcula archipelago and the island of Mljet on the east, to the interiour of the island on the south, to the Peljesac Channel and the island of Hvar on the west, and to the old town and the mountain St. Elias on the north.

Sv. AntunWalking away from the town towards the hotels, one passes by the semi-circled "piazetta" which was erected by the order of the British commander of the town, officer Peter Lowen. The inscription on the columns of the "piazetta" mentions his name. The way leads further towards the town par "Hober" where there is the chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes from 1908, and the monument to the soldiers from Korcula community fallen in the First World War.

The town park "Hober" is i the state register of protected parks-woods. Between the park "Hober" and the sea there are several beautiful villas from the period 1930-1940, built by the famous Croatian architects. Some of them lost much of its artistic impression by the recent alterations in building. On the top of the hill there is a big public cistern of drinkable raining water built in 1950, "Naplov" with a huge flat surface as a catchment area. This cistern is not in use at the present time.

The way leads us further towards Glavica Svetoga Antuna (St. Anton's Small Head). This part of the town was named by it: Sveti Antun. On the top of Glavica, towards which 102 steps lead between the avenue of cypresses, there is the church of St. Anthony and a hermit's dwelling from 1420. Bishop [pani} had the avenue and the staircase arranged at the end of the 17th century, and he was buried in the church in 1707.