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Lokrum

lokrum

The view from Ploče already makes one wish to visit the island of Lokrum.In 1959 a Botanical Garden was founded on Lokrum which contains native and imported, tropical and subtropical plants, and other vegetation originating from Australia to South America. The island is also inhabited by families of peacocks.

 


The view from Ploče already makes one wish to visit the island of Lokrum. The trip to the main port on the island takes 10 minutes. In 1959 a Botanical Garden was founded on Lokrum which contains native and imported, tropical and subtropical plants, and other vegetation originating from Australia to South America. The island is also inhabited by families of peacocks.
The island is now a popular destination with visitors to Dubrovnik. A restaurant is located in the former monastery, and walking routes round the island are marked out. There is also a nudist beach at the south-eastern end of the island.

The Legends
This permanently green island with its pine woods and dense shrubs is a natural beauty spot, but it also has an interesting history.  According to a legend, Richard the Lionheart was shipwrecked in 1192 after returning home from the third crusades and was cast safely ashore on Lokrum. He wanted to build a church on the island but, at the plea of Dubrovnik citizens, the church was built on the nearby mainland instead. It was built where today the Cathedral is located (Marin Držić Square). Unfortunatelly the church was destroyed during the earthquake 1667. Remains of the church were found during another earthquake in 1979.

Another legend is connected with the Benedictine monastery built in the 11th century. The name Lokrum comes from the Latin, 'acrumen', meaning sour fruit. This derives from the tradition of cultivating exotic plants on the island, a tradition started in the time of the Benedictines. It all started with the French occupation of Dubrovnik in 1806. (..untill January 1814.) and their decision to close the Benedictine monastery situated on the island. The monastery was there for centuries and monks were outraged, but they had no choice but to leave their island because the French found three patricians  to support their claim. Before they left, the monks decided to leave something behind. On their last night there they started the procession around the island, each carrying a candle held upside-down, cursing out loud every future owner of the island who will obtain it for his own pleasure instead of God’s work. Three times they went around the island and in the morning they left, leaving the trail of wax from the burning candles.Of the three patricians who helped the realisation of the French plot one jumped out the window and died, other drowned in the sea and the third one was killed by his servant very soon after banishing the monks.
Next owner was Maximilian Habsburg, younger brother of the Austrian emperor Franz Joseph I. He discovered and claimed Lokrum after visiting it, in spite the reason for the visit was a bit macabre. Austrian battle ship «Triton» sunk after the mysterious explosion, in front of Lokrum of course, so Maximilian came to give his last respect to dead seamen. Never minding sad occasion, he was delighted with the island and spent a lot of time there, did a lot of building and rebuilding. He invited Otto Friedrich Wilhelm, known as Ludwig II, to join him for a few days on the Lokrum. While Ludwig was found dead in a lake near one of his castles, Maximilian went to Mexico to find his death. The start of his career there was promising, he was sent to Mexico to be the Mexican emperor but was killed by firing-squad only 3 years after. His wife Charlotte barely survived a shipwreck when she was coming back from Mexico to Lokrum. Already half-mad, she developed mental illness after this and died in a mental institution. Maximilian was also known by his habit of putting his initials on everything, including doorknobs, so it’s not surprising he carved a heart shape with his and Charlotte's initials inside in a biggest oak on Lokrum. Lightning stroke it, burning out the initials, leaving only drawing of a heart.
The city of Dubrovnik was offered then by Habsburgs to buy the cursed island, but city’s majors remembered the curse and were not interested. There’s always some smart a… smart guy who doesn’t believe in curses, so next owner was rich man named Dujmovich from Poljica, who’s business soon went down, he bankrupted and sold Lokrum to dr. Jakopovich from Budapest. This man climbed the ladder of social and financial success after emperor Franz Joseph himself noticed him and trusted him with some tasks. But soon after he became the owner of Lokrum, it somehow floated out that he stole identity of a dead soldier, that he’s not a doctor at all but a barber, so emperor stripped him of all privileges. It wasn’t long until Jakopovich died, poor and ashamed.
Then some young hussar officer was given the island, but this one drowned before he reached his new property. A waterspout came out of nowhere, sinking him and his boat, never to be found.
So Habsburgs regained the island, and it was given to the heir Rudolf and his wife Stephanie. When they first set foot on the island, earth shook and the sea got restless. As Rudolf had an affair with Maria Vetsera and those two died in never really solved mysterious murder and suicide in the castle of Mayerling, it is no wonder empress Elisabeth decided to offer the island back to the Benedictines but they refused. She intended to give the island back but buying in from the Dominicans who she gave money to buy the island from the Benedictines after lifting the curse. Kind of trying to cheat the curse. Nevermind, soon she was killed by an anarchist. During her life she visited Lokrum only once, and refused to spend a night there.
Archbishop Strossmayer was interested in buying Lokrum, but countess Elisabeth Windischgratz from Habsburg family kept the island. She ended her life cast out of her royal family, after shooting her husband’s mistress.
Finally, Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophia decided to spend some time on Lokrum in 1914., but on their way there they stopped in Sarajevo where they were killed by Gavrilo Princip. (which afterwords trigerred WWI).

It is said that the curse can be lifted once the last remaining drop of wax is removed from the island.


More information and legends about Lokrum Island