Diomedic Island Amidst the Infinity of the Sea
Rising up in the middle of the Adriatic, located halfway between Italy and Croatia, you’ll find the wild coasts of Palagruza. Located 42 nautical miles south of Komiza on Island Vis it consists of the islands Vela Palagruza, Mala Palagruza, Sjeverni and Juzni Kamik. Then there’s Galijula that lies a bit further and defines the southernmost point of Croatia itself. There are no buildings; just an elegant lighthouse perched at the island’s vista point. This distant island lighthouse is not only a “signal in the night” for wandering sailors; it’s a fascinating island with a special brand of raw beauty. The island’s grace and elegance emphasizes the stone lighthouse, the rough environment, the huge rocks covered in wild growing caper bushes, and other types of wild vegetation surrounded by the deep blue sea.
In ancient Greek and Roman times, people sailed only during the day and in the summer months. They would never set sail until the fig leaf was large enough to cover the palm of an adult’s hand. Recent archeological discoveries on Palagruza prove that the island fascinated the Greek hero Diomedes, a historical survivor of the Trojan War. He is considered one of the most famous Greek warriors, not unlike Homer’s famous hero, Odysseus. After the Trojan War ended, Diomedes made his way to the Adriatic where he fought the Illyrians. It is believed that Diomedes’ final resting place is somewhere on this island. Legend has it that after Illyrians killed Diomedes’ warriors; Zeus transformed their souls into the white gulls that so diligently occupy the island. Perhaps they have been continually guarding the Trojan hero’s grave all these centuries on the Diomedic Island of Palagruza.
After the fall of Venice in 1797, the Austro-Hungarian Empire took over the Adriatic and Croatian coastline. The new government began building monumental structures on the coast’s most dangerous capes, uninhabited islands and jagged rocks on the open sea. This stone beauty had the important role of impressing all borderline visitors at the southern sea gates to the then-major world power. This impressive lighthouse was built between 1874 and 1876 by chief builder Vicko Marinkovic Mestrazane from Komiza. The light machine, made in 1873 by Henry Epoulte from Paris, is still functioning. These master-builders really constructed a lighthouse that would last for decades, in fact, for nearly 150 years. People from Vis remember the story of how some building inspectors came from Trieste (since in those days, Trieste was part of Croatia). During their visit and executive luncheon the glasses and plates began to dance on the table. This was due to a strong earthquake that coincidentally occurred that very same day on Palagruza. When it was all over, the chief inspector said, “We can leave now; the Almighty did our job with this earthquake. Our Lord has tested this lighthouse and we need not check anything else.”
Nowadays, the only constant inhabitants on the island are its lighthouse keepers, who will return to the mainland at the end of their monthly shift. After that, another two keepers take their places and provide the only light source for miles around on the open sea. They live there alone in their day-dreams, with many untold stories of the past surrounding this fascinating island. Memories of the fishing expeditions, explorers and even Diomedes play a part of the history that continues to this day. For all these years, this lantern remains the only sure and steady light on this furthest of all Adriatic islands.
Our excursion to this magnificent archipelago will last about two days and we will enjoy trekking, fishing, diving, swimming, discovering and uncovering. Our expedition starts in the morning hours from a pre-arranged port. After about an hour and 45 minutes we will arrive in Vis Town which will also be our last stop on the way to Palagruza. There we will fill up our tanks with fuel and stock up with water and any other needed supplies. After a three hours journey from Vis, out from nowhere on the horizon suddenly appears this magnificent island. We will immediately prepare ourselves a sleeping berth in a cove just below the Palagruzan foothills. With our small dinghy we’ll find ourselves on the shores of the attractively rustic pebble beach at Velo Zalo. Zigzagging our way up a small well-worn footpath we are soon scaling the hundred meter hill which is graced by the monumental stone lighthouse. Our lantern keeper hosts will wish you a warm welcome and show you the extraordinary building from the inside out. We will enjoy a fresh grilled fish lunch from the rich waters surrounding Palagruza. After an afternoon walk along this beautiful karst coast, you are welcome to rest and relax in small lighthouse chamber below the lantern room. When sun sets, you can continue your discovery of this island by listening to the stories from our skipper and your host lantern keepers, while the flickering candle breaks the darkness around you.
This adventure isn’t finished yet. It will continue on in a new way the very next day….
This is the never-ending story which we should each compose and revise according to our own experiences, remaining relevant throughout the many changes of time. Throughout this process, we can’t afford to forget the important role we each play in both creating and developing through these timeless exchanges.
Well then, let’s sail away, staying engaged, discovering new opportunities, forever uncovering and learning as the process continually unfolds…
Coffee break on the island of Vis
Cruising to our final destination – island of Palagruza
Reaching our new home – the monumental stone lighthouse
Meeting the lighthouse keepers who will be standing at your service during your stay
Exploration of the Vela Palagruza, Mala Palagruza and Galijula Island and their nature
Plenty of time for swimming and sunbathing
Learning more about the maintenance of the lighthouse
Enjoying fantastic seafood meals caught by the lighthouse keepers from the waters surrounding Palagruza
Bring your camera, since it is a “must have” during our journey
Some snacks and drinks are welcomed on board during the cruise to our final destination
Take some warm clothes with you – the weather can become unpredictable
You won’t be able to use your phone or any kind of other mobile devices – there is no signal for it
Take your sneakers with you. The walk and exploration will be more comfortable
Make sure to have enough sunscreen by your side
Bring your snorkeling equipment and enjoy while exploring the underwater world around the island