Korcula

From Academic Kids

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Korčula (Italian Curzola, Greek Korkyra Melaina, Latin Corcyra Nigra) is an island in the Adriatic Sea in Croatia. The island has an area of 279 km², it is 46.8 km long and 7.8 km wide. It is populated by 17,038 people (2001) which makes it the most populous Adriatic island. The island has a long Byzantine, Croatian and Venetian history and lies lengthwise on the Dalmatian coast, in the Dubrovnik-Neretva county of Croatia.

Korčula is also the name of the ancient fortified town on the protected east coast of the island with population of 3,232 inhabitants (2001), positioned at Template:Coor dm.

Geography

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A view of the city of Korčula

The island of Korčula belongs to the central Dalmatian archipelago, separated from the Pelješac peninsula by a narrow strait of Pelješac, between 900 and 3,000 meters wide (illustration, right). It is the sixth largest Adriatic island with a rather indented coast. The highest peaks are Klupča (568 m) and Kom (510 m). The climate is mild; an average air temperature in January is 9.8 °C and in July 26.9 °C; the average annual rainfall is 1,100 mm. The island is largely covered with the Mediterranean flora; at some places are pine forests.

The island also includes the towns of Vela Luka and Blato, and the other major places on the coast are Lumbarda, Račište, and in the interior Žrnovo, Smokvica, Čara and Pupnat. The regional road connects major places on the island. Ferry lines connect the island from ports Korčula and Vela Luka with the mainland (to Orebić, and to Split stopping at Hvar). It is one of the most populated Adriatic islands, though the number of permanent inhabitants has been decreasing steadily over the last century.

Heritage

The old town, no larger than a football stadium, is tightly built on a promontory that guards the narrow sound between the island and the mainland. Building outside the walls was forbidden until the 18th century, and the wooden drawbridge was only replaced in 1863. Most of Korčula's narrow streets are stepped. The town includes several interesting historic sights: the central Roman Catholic church of St Mark (a cathedral from 1301 to 1806), the 15th-century Franciscan monastery with its beautiful Venetian Gothic cloister, the civic council chambers, the palace of the former Venetian governors, grand 15th and 16th century palaces of the local merchant nobles, and the massive city fortifications.

The devout people of Korčula keep alive old folk church ceremonies (moreška).

History

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A panoramic view of the easternmost parts of Korčula, with Lumbarda, Korčula city and Orebić (Pelješac) from left to right

Though Korculans like to identify Antenor, fleeing from Troy, as the city's founder, there are even older neolithic burial mounds, a possible Phoenician settlement, and a Greek colony founded from Cnidus. Besides its ship timbers and pitch, Korčula's quarries supplied stone for buildings as far away as Vienna and Stockholm. The island's earliest name, Korkyra Melaina, means "Black Corfu" — "black" perhaps for its dark pine forests that have always provided shipbuilding materials.

The island was part of the Roman province of Dalmatia until the Great Migrations. In the early 7th century, the Avar invasion brought the Slavs. As the barbarians started settling on the coast, the Italic population had to take refuge in the islands. Along the Dalmatian coast the Slavic invaders from the upper Balkans seized control of the area where the Narenta (Neretva) River enters the Adriatic, as well as the islands, such as Hvar (Lesina), Korčula (Curzola) and Lastovo (Lagosta), that protect the river mouth. A painting dated 1800 in the museum at Korčula patriotically represents “The arrival of Croatians at the sea”, showing a group of medieval knights who, from the neat mountain heights of the Croatian coast, admire the bright vista of the Adriatic Sea. Christianizing of the Slavs began later in the century.

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Marco Polo's reported birthplace in modern-day Korčula

At first Venetian merchants were willing to pay annual tribute to keep their shipping safe from the "Narentine" (Neretvan) pirates of the Dalmatian coast, but in 998 "Curzola" came under direct Venetian control, and eventually Venetian diplomacy and force established hegemony in the upper Adriatic. Doge Pietro II Orseolo assumed the title Dux Dalmatinorum ("Duke of the Dalmatians"). During the 12th century the hereditary Counts of Curzola were loosely governed from Hungary and from Genoa in turn, and also enjoyed a brief period of independence; but after 1255 its hereditary counts again submitted to Venice. Marco Polo was likely born at Curzola in 1254, to an established family of merchants. Genoa defeated Venice at Curzola in 1298, but in the long run was eliminated from the Adriatic. Marco Polo was taken prisoner by the Genoese in the battle and spent his time in a Genoese prison writing of his travels.

"Curzola" surrendered to the Hungarians in 1358, and was purchased by the Republic of Dubrovnik (1413-1417), and finally declared itself subject to Venice in 1420. In 1571 it defended itself so gallantly against the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Lepanto that it obtained the designation Fidelissima from the Pope. From 1776 to 1797 Curzola succeeded Lesina (Hvar) as the main Venetian fortified arsenal in this region. During the Napoleonic wars it was ruled successively by Russians, French (Illyrian provinces) and British, ultimately passing to Austria in 1815.

Korčula was under the Italian occupation in the period 1918-1921, and after that was annexed to Croatia, which was then the part of Yugoslavia. After fall of second Yugoslavia in 1990, Korčula is part of Croatia.

Economy

Economy is, besides tourism, based on agriculture, cultivation of grape vines and olives, fruit growing, fishing and fish processing and shipbuilding. Summer tourism has a long tradition on the island; nautical tourism has been recently developed.

External links

de:Korčula fr:Korčula ro:Korčula

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