Snapshot: Korčula town

Korčula town in Croatia is a place I’ll always think of as a sanctuary; a place where I paused briefly to revive my spirits.

There have often been times during my travels where I’ve reached the point of exhaustion and needed to slow down; to stop and reflect and appreciate what I’ve seen and done over the previous days or months. And it’s in this way that I’ve discovered some really fascinating and beautiful places. Mostly they’ve been tiny villages situated by the seaside, nestled in the mountains, hidden inside a fortress. But even big cities have resonated with me because of their history, their artwork, their beauty.

This is the first in a series of blogs – snapshots of these wonderful places where I’ve lingered for much longer than necessary. They hold a special place in my heart.

Prior to arriving in Korčula, I’d spent time cycling and volunteering. First, I’d joined a friend for a 500km bike ride from Passau (Germany) to Vienna (Austria) alongside the Danube River, and then I’d volunteered at a brown bear refuge in the village of Kuterevo (also in Croatia), where we’d begun building a pathway in the mountains. By the end, I was exhausted. So I randomly picked one of the Croatia’s islands to spend four nights, resting and relaxing.

Korčula town is an historic fortified settlement on the east coast of the island of Korčula in the Adriatic Sea. Its most interesting buildings include the Cathedral of St Mark, a Romanesque-Gothic building dating from 1301–1806, which is prominent at the highest point of the town; and a 15th-century Franciscan monastery. The town is also known as the possible birth place of Marco Polo, the famous Venetian merchant who was born around 1254.

The town can easily be explored in half a day. In fact, cruise ships do drop passengers here for a few hours and that is all the time they get. But I settled into my cosy accommodation – in a laneway off the main street – and ventured out to explore in the early mornings and late afternoons, when the fierce summer heat was less intense.

I perched myself on one of the town’s fortified walls to read a book, or scribble some notes for an article I was writing, or gaze out to sea to watch the sailing boats skimming across the water. I also went swimming in the crystal clear waters of the Adriatic Sea and enjoyed copious servings of ice-cream. This was my idea of a perfect existence …

A lovely breeze flows through the town, which was deliberately achieved by the town planners. They arranged the streets in a herringbone fashion to allow a gentle breeze to circulate, while still protecting the buildings from strong coastal winds.

I really loved walking up and down all the narrow streets and stairways that lead to and from the town’s centre square, which sits at the highest point. There is only one street without steps and it’s known as the Street of Thoughts – apparently because a person can think freely without worrying about steps.

I took so many photographs of all the details in the laneways; beautiful arches, old doorways and windows, crumbling stones, engravings, quaint lamp-posts, and even a cat lazing in the sunshine. And, always, there were glimpses of the dazzlingly blue sea beyond the stone.

Do you have a favourite place that you’ve stumbled upon during your travels? Let me know about it in the comments below.

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