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Southern Dalmatia's largest, most sophisticated, and most visited island, Korčula was known to the ancient Greeks, who named it Kerkyra Melaina, or "Black Corfu." Between the 10th and 18th centuries it spent several periods under Venetian rule, much to the frustration of Dubrovnik, which considered the Italian city-state its archrival. Today most Croatians know it for its traditional sword dances and its excellent white wines. Korčula is also the name of the capital, which is near the island's eastern tip. At first view, it seems like a much smaller version of Dubrovnik: the same high walls, the circular corner fortresses, and the church tower projecting from within an expanse of red roofs. The main difference lies in the town plan, as narrow side streets run off the main thoroughfare at odd angles to form a herring-bone pattern, preventing cold winter winds from whistling unimpeded through town. The eight centuries under Venetian rule bequeathed the town a treasure trove of Gothic and Renaissance churches, palaces, and piazzas, all built from fine local stone, upon which the island's early wealth was based. Korčula's main claim to fame, though one still disputed by historians, is that it was the birthplace of Marco Polo (1254–1324). The center is small and compact and can be explored in an hour. The most impressive way to arrive in Korčula Town is by Jadrolinija coastal ferry from Dubrovnik, which stops here en route to Rijeka. Less pleasurable but faster is the daily bus service connecting Dubrovnik and Korčula Town, which follows the regional road along Pelješac Peninsula, then boards a ferry at Orebić for a short crossing to Korčula. Alternatively, Korčula Town is also served by a daily catamaran from Split (Central Dalmatia).
Korčula at a Glance
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