I was not able to visit Lokrum Island but the view of it from a high vantage point in Cavtat was beautiful so I decided to try to learn more about it.
Most likely it gets its title as "Island of Kings" because of a legend which says that Richard the Lionhearted stranded on the island during a fierce storm as he was trying to return home after the crusades in 1192. He was so grateful that he pledged to building a church on Lokrum owing to his survival. The citizens of Dubrovnik pleaded with him not to build a church on the island but in the city of Dubrovnik itself, which he did. A variant of this legend says that he pledged to build a monastery on the island itself.
Today, the only physical structures on the island are the ruins of the Benedictine Monastery which is said to have been built around 1023 and the fortress called Forte Roayle which is a star-shaped structure built by the French around 1806 with a high vantage point for warning of approaching vessels or fleets.
It is said that the name Lokrum comes from the Latin, acrumen, meaning sour fruit and that the tradition of bringing and cultivating exotic plants from around the globe to be planted on the island and this tradition had its begining in the time of the Benedictines.
During the rule of the Maximilan Ferdinand of Hapsburg, he commissioned a mansion built on the island in 1859 along with a magnificent garden laid out in the particular pattern of criss- crossed pathways and all sorts of exotic plantings. Later in 1959 a Botanical Garden was founded on Lokrum where you can see "special and endemic tropic and subtropical plants and other vegetation originating from Australia to South America." Today Lokrum has been named a Nature Reserve and a Special Forest Vegetation Reserve.
Today, except for the monastery ruins, there are no services or facilties on the island such as restaurants, hotels, houses or shops. It is strictly for walking, relaxing, swimming, and capturing beautiful views across the water to the Old Town of Dubrovnik or the far view to Cavtat. The island has rocky shores, but there is an inland, sea-fed lake named "Mrtvo More" or Dead Sea which is popular with swimmers.
Boats to Lokrum Island leave half hour from near the Ploce Gate of Dubrovnik and the ride lasts only minutes. If you visit Lokrum, it is wise to bring water, food and other necessities.
Dagnje (regular mussels) grow on wooden poles or on grids and are cultivated on many coasts.
Prstači (date mussels) grow inside lime rocks. They dig tunnels that have exactly their size. They grow slowly and to get them, you have to break the rocks. They grow only wild and cannot be cultivated. Thus, for environmental reasons, it is forbidden to collect them and restaurants cannot sell them.
I had tasted them several times in various places in Dalmatia before they were forbidden.
I will not tell where and when I have taken these photos. May be before it was forbidden! They taste great, different from regular mussels. If you want to taste some, you can always ask in restaurants if they have any. Most of the time, they will answer “oh no, it is now forbidden”. Most of the time…
You don't need to go far to get off the beaten path in Cavtat! Just walk uphills between the houses. Narrow streets with cobbled stone cut through the building mass, there are lots of cute old houses with interesting gardens to see. And all of the sudden you are in the nature, behind the houses. A nice change from hanging around the harbour area or on the beaches. And you can find some shadow in the heat of the day. Not that heat was a problem when I was there in april, a nice 20 degrees C!
Designed by Ivan Mestrovic (1883 - 1962) Croatia's most famous sculptor.
Lady Mare Racic asked Mestrovic "When I die, will you build me a grave and prove that Death is apparent?"
He could not reply at the moment. Soon after that she died.
So Mestrovic had engraved his answer on the bell reading:
"Find out the Secret of Love. Thus you'll find the solution to the Secret of Death and you'll believe that Life is Eternal".
The whole mausoleum was built of white marble from island Brac, no wooden parts at all, only the door and the bell were made of bronze.
Lady Mare Racic managed to get permission from Dubrovnik Bishop to demolish the chapel of St. Rocco (from 15th century) and build a family mausoleum there. All of Racic's foursome family died within short period.
Among all astonishing sculptures each carrying specific symbolism and message, there is one dog, the only creature that, according to legend, had not abbandoned St. Rocco.
Cavtat is really a beautiful, charming little coastal town with spirit. If you have a chance go up the hill and you'll admire excelent view to the town itself.
but wander off in any direction....there is something to see everywhere. I mean look at this water pipe I was so enchanted with. Have you ever seen such concentrated admiration?