Did you know that one of the greatest world travelers, Marco Polo, was born in 1254 on the island of Korcula? At the time when the life and culture of exotic culture in the East were completely unknown to all of Europe, and no one had heard of paper money, the seventeen year old Marco Polo headed for China to the great Kubla Kahn. He became so fond of Marco Polo that he put him in charge of an entire region, which is why Marco Polo stayed at the Mongolian court for 17 years.
During that time, he traveled through and got to know a large part of Asia, which he later described in his well-known travel record "Milijun" (Million). After having returned with extensive riches, he spent his life convincing friends of the accuracy of his unusual experience in the mysterious East. However, did you know what everyone has been grateful for is - pasta, which he brought to Europe from China. The only thing we can say is: Marco Polo, thank you for this gastronomic pleasure!
The town of Korcula Croatia is well known for MORESKA – a traditional sword dance and drama that was common through the Mediterranean in 12th and 13th century, reaching Korcula in 16th century from Italy and Dubrovnik.
The dance originated in Spain and is associated to the conflict between Moors and Christians. In Dalmatia its popularity was almost certainly linked with the struggles against Ottoman Empire, above all with the victory over a Battle of Lepanto, the first major Ottoman defeat by the Christian powers, which ended the myth of Ottoman naval invincibility. Through the centuries Moreska vanished from the Mediterranean and now days is only to be find in Korcula, where it is performed for over 400 year.
In the odl town of Korcula where all the building are packed together there is very few space for vegetation. Space was precious and was used for more important purpouses than parks. Well, here and there some house has a yard where some trees grow. Among them orange trees. And when the fruits are ripe they are just teasing to be picked. They looked so juicy. But you have to be hell of a good jumper to get one.
If you enter into town through the sout gate, Kopnena vrata, you'll come to Trg (square) Antuna i Stjepana Radica. On the left side you can find town hall. This is the place where in the past people gathered to discuss important matters concerning the town. The important part was that all could participate, the rich ones as well the poor ones. But there were still differences. While nobels had their place in a small atrium in front of the town hall where they could sit in a shade, common people had to stay in square.
In old times, when there where no high-tech toys like today, people had to improvize.
To keep interior of houses cool in summer, stone ring were built in front of windows. Those were holding rails with wet blankets and when the wind blew, the moist cooled the air. So, instead of a hot air, into the house came the cool air.
Moreska is famous ancient sword dance that originates from a Moorish dance or a Spanish one (historians not sure - so how would I know). It is one of the oldest traditional European dances still performed. It had arrived to Korcula in 16th century from Italy.
The version that is still performed in Korcula has its specific alterations, and is much shorter than the original one (2 hours would be really too much).
There are 4 main characters: The Bula (The Moslem Maiden), Moro, the Black King Osman, the White King Otmanovic, the Black King's father.
They recite verses, but not for long, and then the spectacular dance with swords begins in moderate rhythm, culminating towards the end. You can see sparks flying off those swords, so it's a real thing, performers have to be well trained not to hurt each other. They are members of exclusive "club", it is a matter of pride to have a member of the family in that club, and the crowns that are the part of the costume stay in the family.