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The Island of Lokrum and Its Legends

by Davorka Loncar on 10/06/09 at 10:12 am

The article gives basic information about the natural, geographical, cultural, historical and other characteristics of island of Lokrum. It also describes interesting legends about the origin and the history of the island.

The island of Lokrum is geographically situated near Croatian city Dubrovnik (only half a kilometres from the old harbour of Dubrovnik). The length of the island is 1,7 km.

In written documents Lokrum was mentioned for the first time in 1023. in the occassion of founding of the Benedictine abbey and monastery.

The island is characterized by its rich green vegetation, gardens, fortresses(for example the fortress from the 19th century built by French Army) and by legends connected to its origin and history.

Through history many important scientific and cultural institutions were founded there, such as Botanical garden, Memorial Museum of Ruđer Bošković, and Natural History Museum.

Today, Lokrum is a popular bathing resort and promenade for domestic population and also for numerous tourists. It is also well known recreation object.

In 1964. the island of Lokrum was declared a Managed Nature Reserve.

Important natural value of the island are its gardens.

Even the very name of the island indicates that there was along tradition of growing plants on this teritory(Locrum comes from the latin acrumen, sour fruit).

Most of the plants derive from Australia and South America; of particular interest in the collection of eucalyptuses, cactuses and other plants.

In a history of development of gardens in Dubrovnik, gardens of Lokrum takes a significant place.

The tradition of growing plants on this teritory was kept from the begining of the XI. century till nowadays( it started to develop after the Benedictine monastery was built and and the gardens were used for growing plants for nutrition of the monks.

As it is mentioned before, we have also interesting legends about the origin and the history of Lokrum.

One of the most known is the legend about Richard the Lionheart who was shipwrecked in 1192.while returning from Palestina with his army and made a vow that he will build a church on the first place were he steps on the ground. According to the legend that place was Lokrum.

The vow was kept partly, because on the suggestion of the government of Dubrovnik, he agreed to have the church built in the city itself.

The next legend says that in 18.th cetury noblemans from Dubrovnik wanted to banish the Benedictines and sell the island to nobles and merchants. According to the legend the banished Benedictines damned everyone who suggested selling of the island and all the future owners of the island.

Soon after that the three noblemans from Dubrovnik died by violent death. One of them was drowned, the other fell of the cliff and the third one was murdered.

The owner of the island Maksimilijan Ferdinand, was executed 8 years after buying the island, and all the future owners of the island also had the ill fortune.

The curse terminated in 1919. when the island was sold to the Yugoslav government for 11.000.000 krunas, under the condition that it is used exclusively for humanitarian purposes, and as children resort.

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