13 October, 2017
The most remote, inhabited island in the Adriatic is a hidden oasis of peaceful, quiet, undisturbed, natural beauty that offers a much-deserved respite from the bustle of everyday, urban life
Lastovo, an imperial island with mystical beauty and a glorious landscape, is a place where kings and emperors have enjoyed wine, olive oil and the aroma of herbs for nine centuries. Surrounded by stone lights coming from Sušac, Tajan, Glavat and Struga, the island of Lastovo is the southernmost inhabited, Croatian island. As well as the youngest Nature Park in Croatia, covering 46 islands, islets, cliffs and ridges. It was dubbed a Nature Park due to its beauty, dense forests, fertile fields filled with ponds, high coastal hillsides, caves on land and underwater and many marine and land species thriving in their natural habitats. In short, it is one of the richest and most well-preserved botanical areas in the Mediterranean. The underwater area of the park is rich in coral, sponges, molluscs, bryozoans, echinoderms, crabs and many other species. Forming firm links in the underwater chain of life. Thanks to its isolated geographic position, the Island of Lastovo is the centre of an endemism where an endangered seahorse found its home. The cliffs on the Island of Lastovo and the islets nearby are areas where rare types of birds nest, while the cave of Ropa Medjedina is an important habitat where two endangered species of bats can be found – Geoffroy’s bat and the greater horseshoe bat. The island also boasts a rich cultural and historical heritage – numerous stone churches, vivid chimneys, traditional Lastovo Poklad (Carnival) and we mustn’t forget the local population, proof that the coexistence of nature and man is possible with developed, ecological awareness.
The park area, especially on Lastovo and Sušac, contains numerous cultural assets that testify to the rich history of the area. The protected, cultural monument of Lastovo is located in the central part of the island, hidden from view from the sea and from any pirates during its stormy past. Constructed on a steep slope and shaped like an amphitheatre, the town was shaped in the 15th and 16th centuries and it is an example of one of the most varied example of historic Dalmatian and Dubrovnik residential architecture. A path from Lastovo will take you to one of the most beautiful, natural coves on the island – Zaklopatica, which is also the island’s fishing port. It was named after the islet that encloses the bay and today it holds a ‘mecca’ of top taverns and represents the ‘mandatory’ destination for sailors navigating this part of the Adriatic. The hidden, Luka bay is located on the southern part of the island and thanks to its natural and distinctive shape, it is protected from all sides from the sea and the wind, making it popular among sailors. A haven of peace and quiet, it is ideal for resting, swimming in and exploring the rich, Lastovo underwater. If you go to the eastern part of the island, you will find the small archipelago of Lastovnjaci, whose islets, the most famous of which is Saplun, are a perfect mooring spot. On the other side of the island, Struge lighthouse is one of the most beautiful lighthouses in the Adriatic and few are lucky enough to visit it.
One of Lastovo’s main attractions is its chimneys – fumari, whose construction suggests that they were built to demonstrate the homeowners’ wealth and no two fumari are the same. There are a total of 46 churches, some preserved, others in ruins and 21 are registered as protected cultural heritage sites. The oldest church – the remains of an early Christian basilica – dates from the 6th century. Due to prehistoric archaeological sites, numerous caves, settlements and all 11 prehistoric mounds are also protected. Other protected sites include an ancient ‘villa rustica’ (remains of Roman walls) and the archaeological remains of a Roman settlement from the 1st century. A great number of folk customs were present on the island of Lastovo in the past. Today there are only a few and the most interesting of them is the Lastovo Poklad. The Poklad (Carnival) in its current form is one of the oldest in the world, dating back to 1483. It depicts the failed siege of Korčula and Lastovo by the Arabs. It is a custom that the entire community of Lastovo proudly participates in and, year after year, it’s wide array of events celebrates the centuries-old pride of the island’s uniqueness and independence. The Poklad has strict rules and procedures, unusual and different to any other part of the world.
The Lastovo Islands are ideal for other forms of leisure, such as cycling or hiking. The island is covered in eleven trails – eight are asphalt, one is gravel and two are of combined terrain. Most of them feature a height difference of 100 meters, so the rides offer breath-taking views. The Ubli – Hum trail has a height difference of 416 meters and cyclists’ efforts are rewarded with exceptional panoramas. Hiking is an activity available to everyone all year long, as there are twelve marked trails on the Lastovo Island, most of which are easy with some being moderately difficult. An active holiday is therefore available to a large number of visitors, whom may not have any hiking experience. Lučica is the last, preserved example of a Baroque fishing village in this part of Dalmatia and fishing has always been an important source of food and income for the local population. You can enjoy seafood delicacies, including a traditional Lastovo meal – sardines on spit, conger brodet, grilled moray and Lastovo desserts called skalice, fritule and kotonjata. For those who like meat, you will be able to taste locally-bred chicken, goat and lamb under a baking lid. Humble locals with a specific dialect will welcome you, quickly making you feel a part of the serene way of life on the island. The tastes of Lastovo, the scent of the sea, wine, oil, seafood delicacies and pine forests are unforgettable and create moments that you will always want to come back to.