Europe, Croatia, Adriatic islands

Hvar and Vela Luka

No Comments 7 August 2010

Hvar and Vela Luka

If charming Dalmatian sea towns are your thing, then Hvar and Vela Luka are right up your limestone alley. The Monkey had the good fortune to call at both ports during his Croatian travels in 2002.

Vela Luka, Korcula, Croatia
At the western end of Korcula island, the Monkey visited the small but picturesque town of Vela Luka. Like Dubrovnik, Korcula, and Hvar, Vela Luka’s history is very much tied to maritime pursuits and it boasts a good harbor. In this shot, the Monkey contemplates a seafaring life in the harbor at Vela Luka, Hvar. He opted to remain a landlubber for the time being.

Vela Luka, Korcula, Croatia
On Korcula Island, the Monkey paused for a (slightly off-kilter) photo by Vela Luka’s 19th Century St. Joseph Church, built in the native limestone of the Dalmatian coast.

Hvar, Croatia
After some pleasant days on Korcula, the Monkey took the ferry to Hvar Island. There, he visited another of the Croatian Adriatic’s gorgeous towns. Driving through hilly fields of lavender and stone walls, he arrived in Hvar Town. With its limestone facades, narrow hilly passageways, and grandiose central plaza, Hvar was a joy to explore. Aside from the excellence of its harbor, the Monkey also noted Hvar’s public theater, which dates to 1612 and is considered by many to be the oldest public theater in Europe. Here the Monkey looks out over Hvar’s Stari Grad (Old Town) from the hilltop 16th Century fortress.

Hvar, Croatia
Higher yet above Hvar Town, the Monkey contemplates one of his most serene moments in the Balkans. Sea, land, stone buildings, and centuries of history combine harmonically to produce an unforgettable view. In the distance are the distinctive shapes of the Hvar Islets, a symbol of Hvar town.

This Monkey adventure has been viewed 1756 times since the 2010 website relaunch.



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4,491,543 (2008)

Land area:

56,414 sq. km.


Zagreb (pop. 930,753; 2005)


In 2006, Croatia ranked 45th in the UNDP Human Development Index and 58th in total GDP, with a per capita GDP of $9,611.68. Public debt accounts for 47.8 percent of total GDP, while 11 percent of Croats are beneath the poverty line.

Main language(s):


Monkey's name:

Majmun (my-moon)

Fun fact:

Two inventions for which the world owes the Croats credit are the necktie and the radio. The former evolved from a silk scarf worn by Croat sailors (dubbed the “cravate”), and the latter was developed by the Croat inventor Nikola Tesla, though many have erroneously credited Italian engineer Guglielmo Marconi with the creation of the radio.

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Recommended reading

A Concise Historical Atlas of Eastern Europe
Dennis P. Hupchick and Harold E. Cox (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996)
Any traveler knows the importance of a good map. This handy book provides a slew of historical maps that help illuminate the complicated contours of the various Balkan empires and states, providing a foundation for deeper understanding of Eastern European history.

Balkan Ghosts: A Journey Through History
Robert D. Kaplan (New York: Vintage, 1993)
Covering his travels in 1980s Bulgaria, Greece, Romania, and Yugoslavia, Kaplan wrote this politically tinged book on the cusp of the changes that would envelop the post-Cold War Balkans.

The Balkans: A Short History
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As the title says, a short history of the Balkan region. A helpful intro to this corner of Europe.

The Balkans: Nationalism, War, and the Great Powers, 1804-1999
Misha Glenny (New York: Penguin, 2001)
A rather epic undertaking by a former BBC correspondent for Central Europe, this book traces the tumultuous two centuries of the Balkan states’ struggles for independence from the Ottoman Empire, the emergence of pan-Slavic tendencies and their tribulations, and the reign of various regimes of the right and left during the 20th Century. A worthwhile read—don’t let its dimensions frighten you…

Café Europa: Life After Communism
Slavenka Drakulic (New York: Penguin, 1996)
An interesting read that captures a Balkan perspective on the early days after the Fall of the Wall, and in the midst of the break-up of Yugoslavia. Croatian Drakulic is a witty writer and tackles issues including memory, guilt, national identity, and the influx of the West’s crass commercialism.

Description of a Struggle: The Vintage Book of Contemporary Eastern European Writing
Editor: Michael March (New York: Vintage Books, 1994: Out of print)
A great anthology of short stories from the former Eastern Bloc, providing an evocative snap shot of the early post-Cold War era. Stories are organized by state, with the Bulgarian Victor Paskov’s tale of “Romanian” exiles in the Paris Metro a particular highlight.

The Impossible Country: A Journey Through the Last Days of of Yugoslavia
Brian Hall (New York: Penguin, 1994)
Hall’s travelogue traces his visits to key places in 1991 Yugoslavia, just as the country begins to disintegrate along ethno-national lines. The foreboding sense of imminent violence drips from every page.

To Kill a Nation: The Attack on Yugoslavia
Michael Parenti (London: Verso, 2000)
In a fiery tome, Parenti makes the case that Yugoslavia’s disintegration was a deliberate result of Western policy, carried out by NATO guns and the privatizing forces of Western economic interests. A book that challenges many of the preconceptions about Yugoslavia and NATO’s interventions there.

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