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Enjoying the heavenly beauty of a pirate island off-limits to foreigners

Pirate island…you must be asking yourselves what are we talking about. (Knowing Croatia is not a place known by pirate activity). Have you ever seen an island with the municipal center positioned inland and not at the coastline? In fact, it requires some serious hiking to reach it from the shore because the town of Lastovo is built on one of the hills of the island of Lastovo. Naturally, you would expect that you could just sail in, moor your vessel, and go mingle with the locals in one of the port’s bars. Well, not on Lastovo…
Lastovo Archipelago
Lastovo Archipelago

Pirate island: Paying the toll for piracy...

Piss the wrong people and you’ll suffer dearly; something Lastovo residents felt on their own skin when, in 998 A.D., Venetians, sick and tired of constant pirate attacks, launched a major naval operation against Croatian pirates and completely destroyed the town of Lastovo two years later.

Led by the dreadful experience, residents rebuilt the town only this time, they moved it on the hill further inland and as far away from the coast as possible to be able to defend it against naval attacks.

A brilliant move because from that point on, it was practically impossible to inflict any kind of damage to municipal structures from the shoreline. And since it had a strategic advantage of being on top of the hill, attacking with ground troops was suicide.

Military Bunkers as the Touristic Attraction
Military Bunkers as the Touristic Attraction
However, locals didn’t want to take any chance so they turned to agriculture and trading (publicly). But what made Lastovo such a hotspot for pirates and why it remained off-limits for foreigners for all these years?

An unlikely benefit of an important strategic and military value

Lastovo is positioned in such a way that, during clear skies, you can see across the Adriatic all the way to Italy. Turn left and you’ll spot every single vessel coming in from the direction of the Strait of Otranto, the only way in the Adriatic Sea.

That put pirate island Lastovo high up on the defense map.

In 1945, after the WWII has ended and Tito formed Yugoslavia, Lastovo, same as the island of Vis, turned into naval strongholds. That move directly affected the economics of the island and it saw a sudden exodus of its population.

But on the flip side, the decrease in the number of residents and the dormant nature of the military that acted as a watchdog over the southern Adriatic Sea preserved nature.

Furthermore, due to the strategic importance and valuable military installations on the island and across the archipelago, the access to the island was limited and subject to pre-approval. For foreigners, the situation was even worse. They were permanently prohibited from accessing the entire archipelago and wider, including the island of Vis and its military outposts.

You can imagine what such a scarcity of humans and human activities does to an isolated island.

Nature remains almost completely intact because those outposts were blended with the surroundings for better camouflage. In fact, they did such a good job, that you can sail right next to the bunker without noticing the pair of anxious eyes that’s lurking through the scope of the 120mm howitzer ready for the short-range precision hit.

Lastovo Archipelago
Lastovo Archipelago

Of course, those bunkers and other military installations are now tourist attractions.

You can catch a glimpse of a day in the life of a soldier who’s watching over the Adriatic with the room full of shells and those long-range cannons that are able to drop a seagull from 50 miles range.

However, the population never regained its former glory.

There are less than 800 residents in the entire Lastovo archipelago. Which means that you can take a relaxing walk along the coastline or further inland through pristine nature. Heck, the island has only two ATMs and one single drugstore. If you want isolation but complemented with superior service, Lastovo is your destination.

Give us a call and we’ll arrange everything for you. Don’t forget, Dubrovnik is just 2,5 hours by the state’s high-speed line. Your CTC Team, I.K.
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