Cursed with a deadly curse or blessed with beauty – Lokrum

Just 700 m by boat from Dubrovnik lies the island of Lokrum. Covering an area of around 72 ha, Lokrum is one of the smallest islands on Croatia’s southern coast.

The evergreen Mediterranean landscape with the highest peak at 96 m has always attracted particular attention. Its 700 m distance from Dubrovnik did not isolate it in inaccessible solitude, nor did it allow it to be captured by urbanization. As an island, it protected the city’s port and ships from the destructive winds of the sea, and acted as a defensive outpost. The origin of the name comes from the Latin word acrumen, “citrus”, which is a collective noun for bitter fruits and oranges.

Thanks to its extremely rich flora, the island has been protected as a special forest vegetation reserve since 1963 and is under strict UNESCO protection.

How to visit Lokrum

The island is open to visitors 7 months a year. In winter, only rangers and peacocks can enjoy the beauty of Lokrum. From early April to early November (depending on weather conditions and a few extra days), the Zrinski and Skala ships take many visitors to the nature reserve. The boats leave every half-hour and the journey takes up to 15 minutes. It’s important to remember that the reserve is closed to visitors at night.

Natural beaches

Leaving the city’s old port, continue on to the port of Portoč, where you can enjoy views of Dubrovnik’s magnificent ramparts, the Kaše breakwater, one of the world’s oldest Lazareti quarantines, Villa Seherezada and numerous hidden coves.

The Skala and Zrinski boats, the link between the coast and the island of Lokrum

When you arrive on the island of Lokrum, the boat stops in the port of Portoč and all the advantages of this beautiful island open up before you. The rangers who look after the island will welcome you. You can get all the information you need about the island in the office located just as you arrive.

The ranger’s house, or Lugareva kuća, was built during the Habsburg administration. Despite severe damage during the 1991 war, the Mexican stone coat of arms is still visible on the façade: Maximilian is the Emperor of Mexico.

Less than 2 minutes’ walk from the port takes you to the crossroads that leads to the island’s many tourist attractions.

If you turn left, you’ll reach the nudist beach along a forest path. And not just this beach, but a multitude of rocky outcrops offering relaxation, easy access to the sea and total privacy.

Hidden beaches are everywhere

The road to Fort Royal

If you turn right, a path will appear in front of you, leading to Fort Royal, the fortress built during the French occupation of Dubrovnik.

The road to Fort Royal

With numerous hidden coves, you can also descend to a small cove where the Triton Cross is located. Erected in honor of the dead sailors of the Austrian warship “Triton”. In 1859, he brought Maximilian of Habsburg, future owner of Lokrum, to Dubrovnik.


The Republic of Dubrovnik was known as the first in the world to introduce quarantine in the second half of the 14th century. At a time when Europe was in the grip of the bubonic plague and most Mediterranean ports were closed, the Republic decided to install quarantine and safety laws. The first quarantine was established on the islet of Bobara in 1377, and two centuries later this was built on Lokrum.


The Lazaret complex was built between 1534 and 1557 by order of the Senate of the Republic of Dubrovnik, to protect against infectious diseases. The square plan of the Lazaret is delimited by a double wall. The main entrance door (now walled in) is on the north wall, and above it is an inscription on the construction dating from 1557. Inside, there are pairs of living quarters for merchants, sailors and travelers. The infirmary was never completed, the Republic having abandoned construction at the end of the 16th century for strategic reasons. Namely, the solidly built Lazaret could serve as a stronghold, so Dubrovnik’s inhabitants began building a new quarantine at the Ploče gate, near the city. In 1647, part of the Lazaret was demolished by order of the Senate and the city walls were fortified with its stones.


We continue our walk towards the Petit Réservoir.

It was most probably built around 1830 to modernize the royal fort, and then used to plant gardens and parks by Maximilian.


Construction of the fortress on Lokrum’s highest peak was begun by the French army after the capture of Dubrovnik in 1806 and completed for the Austrian administration around 1835.

After the fall of the Dubrovnik Republic, construction was started by the French and, in 1806, General Alexander Lauriston placed an artillery battery in a strategically important position from which the waters around Dubrovnik and access to the city’s harbor could be easily controlled. Due to the constant military actions of the Russians and Montenegrins at this time with the aim of capturing two strategic defense points – Srđ and Lokrum – in order to force the French out of Dubrovnik, Napoleon ordered the construction of a fortress at Lokrum. Work already begun intensified in the second half of 1806 and was completed in 1808. The fortress was named Fort Royal, after Napoleon’s son-in-law, the viceroy of Italy Eugène Beauhamais.

Fort Royal, built on the island’s highest peak, 96 m above sea level


Built during the reign of Maximilian of Habsburg. A walk from the olive grove to Fort Royal.

The path between Fort Royal and the olive tree


Thanks to the region’s typical Mediterranean climate, a variety of plants thrive here. As throughout the Mediterranean, olive trees predominate. In ancient times, people discovered all its benefits and healing properties. It was because of all these benefits that the Benedictines turned to planting olives. Trees over 300 years old can also be found in this olive grove.

Not only olives, but a variety of other plants have thrived in Lokrum. Right next to the olive grove is the botanical garden. The garden was founded in 1959 to research the adaptation of foreign plants to Lokrum’s climate. After the damage caused by the 1991 war, the garden was restored and today grows around 800 species of exotic plants.


The diversity of the flora and the uniqueness of the climate of Little Lokrum have been observed since antiquity, but the idea of creating a special acclimatization institution to study the adaptation of foreign plant species arose at the beginning of the 20th century.

The plan began to take shape in 1959, when the botanical garden was established on an area of around 2 ha – a neglected former monastery with kitchen gardens – and the first exotic plants began to be planted.

Today, around four hundred species from Australia, South America, Africa and other parts of the world grow here, as well as rare, protected and endangered species from the Dubrovnik region.

Exotic plants in the botanical garden


A special period in the island’s development occurred after its purchase in 1859 by Maximilian of Habsburg. This was the beginning of a new history of Lokrum’s garden and landscaping; since then, the whole island has gradually become a park.

When the historicist building of Maximilian Castle was erected next to the Gothic-Renaissance monastery, the design and layout of the gardens along the access road and in front of the castle (or monastery) and the construction and planting of garden terraces in the castle began. The terraces, together with the redecorated cloister garden, formed an intimate inner garden open only to the open sea.

The garden


The island of Lokrum was first mentioned in 1023 as the site of the foundation of a Benedictine abbey and monastery.

There are several legends linked to Lokrum. According to one legend, Richard I of the Heart of Leon found salvation from a shipwreck on Lokrum, returning in 1192 from a crusade in Palestine. The vow that, if saved, he would build a church on the site of salvation was partially fulfilled. He escaped by landing on Lokrum, but at the request of Dubrovnik’s inhabitants, he agreed that the church should be built in the town itself.

The ruins of the Benedictine monastery


According to another legend, the fire that ravaged Dubrovnik in the 11th century is also mentioned. Terrified by the fire, the religious inhabitants of Dubrovnik swore to St. Benedict to build a monastery in Lokrum if the fire was extinguished. When the fire was extinguished the next day, Dubrovnik’s inhabitants decided to keep their vow. The Benedictine monastery was built on Lokrum, and the Benedictines are first mentioned in 1023 in the Dubrovnik Republic. The Benedictines, who owned the whole island, made Lokrum a paradise on earth. When the French army arrived in Dubrovnik, Marshal Marmont decided to build the Royal Fort on Lokrum, a strong defensive fortress. When the army arrived on the island, the Benedictines had to leave.

According to legend, the Benedictines celebrated their last mass before leaving. Then they pulled the hoods over their eyes, lit candles, turned them upside down and circled the island three times in procession, muttering, “Cursed be all those who obtain Lokrum for their personal pleasure.” According to popular belief, the curse can only be lifted if all the wax that fell into the sea that night is collected.

In the second half of the 19th century, the island belonged to the Habsburg dynasty and the princely Windischgrätz family, and many members of this dynasty were cursed. According to legend, each of the island’s owners died a tragic or unsolved death. Even the death of the island’s last owner, who sold the island to the Yugoslav government for $500,000, remains a mystery.


On the south side of the island is a salt lake called the Dead Sea, connected by an underground canal to the open sea. The ideal bathing spot for swimmers and non-swimmers, young and old.

The Dead Sea


The outer part, open to the Adriatic Sea, is the sunniest part of the island. The best place to really sunbathe. There’s no shade, only rocks and the opportunity to take great photos.

L'ile de Lokrum

Les Rochers

Don’t forget that the last boat leaves at 20:00 and during the night we are the kings of the island!