No city can compare to Dubrovnik, but if there were a second prize, Korcula Town would be a winner. Often referred to as ‘Little Dubrovnik’ because of its impressive city walls, this historic, fortified town is most famous for (apparently) being the birth place of the great explorer, Marco Polo.
1. Built in 1485, the Revelin Tower and Land Gate are your essential photo-op spot in town. Above the entrance to the Land Gate, you’ll find two symbols marking Korcula’s history: a bas-relief with the winged lion of St. Mark, a symbol of the Venetian Republic and a stone tablet commemorating the 1000th anniversary of the coronation of the first Croatian king, Tomislav.
2. The Town Museum located in Gabrielis Palace is an outstanding example of 15th and 16th century architecture. The collections explain traditional crafts, in particular, stonemasonry and shipbuilding which were essential to the island. Among the most valuable exhibits are the bronze pendant of Tiziano Aspetti and an 1819 piano played by Beethoven’s close friend, Edith Streicher.
3. Built by local stonemasons from the 14th to 16th centuries, peek inside the Gothic and Renaissance styled St Marks Cathedral. Famous local stonemason, Marko Andrijic created the masterpieces in the upper part of the campanile and above the high altar in the central nave, dedicated to St. Mark – the patron saint of the island. The Gothic and Romanesque main portal was built by Italian master Bonino da Milano.
4. Thirty minutes walk from the centre of Korcula, towards Lumbarda, lies St Anthony’s Hill. There are 102 steps to the top, bordered by a cypress alley planted in 1708. The hilltop has beautiful views of the Korculan archipelago and the town below. The summit is crowned by a small 14th century church dedicated to St. Anthony the Abbot.
5. You might see the men around town dancing with swords. This is the Moreska, a mock battle dance performed by men from Korcula Town families. And you can’t leave the town without taking in a performance – it really is a must.
The dance sees each soldier/dancer holding two swords and is traditionally performed on July 29 (St. Theodore’s Day – the patron saint of Korcula) and weekly during the summer. Town records show that the Moreska has been performed in Korcula since at least the 17th century but the dance may be older, some say 16th
Dramatic dialogue sets the scene for the Red and Black armies to battle for return of Bula (the veiled young woman) who was abducted by Moro – the Arab (dressed in black) King.
Clashing and sparking swords in seven battles end with the Bula being freed from her chains and returned to her beloved Osman – the Turkish (white king – dressed in red) King.