Friday, December 01, 2017

Lokrum Island (Croatia): Benedictine Abbey Ruins, Annunciation Church and Game of Thrones

April is not the best time to visit Dubrovnik if the intention is to visit the outlying islands. It’s still a bit cold and you will not be able to swim. May perhaps is much better.

The Benedictine Abbey ruins in Lokrum Island.

In the boat going to Lokrum Island and leaving Dubrovnik behind.

But Bubbles and I wanted to see something else while in Dubrovnik and based on my readings online, the nearest and easiest to reach the island from Dubrovnik old town is Lokrum. When we arrived, we right away investigate on how we are going to buy the boat tickets. We learned that we can just buy them onsite at the harbour before leaving. But to make sure, we bought the tickets a day ahead.

We were quite excited about this little side trip because it’s new and different. It gives our road trip a different angle as we are taking a boat to an island.

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The ferry we took to Lokrum Island.

The cherry on top of the cake with this boat trip is seeing the old walled city of Dubrovnik from the water. It’s beautiful and dramatic. Highly recommended.

The boat ride is only 15 minutes from the old port of Dubrovnik old town to Lokrum Island.

We don’t really have a lot of time to stay on Lokrum Island, so our plan was to see a few things and eat lunch. Based on the information I have gathered online, you need at least a day to fully enjoy the island, but half a day is also fine and if time is really a big issue, then at least 3 hours.

The boat ride from Dubrovnik leaves on a schedule a few times a day and the service becomes more frequent in the summer months. The ride takes approximately 15 minutes, so that is quite fast.

Lokrum is not too far from Dubrovnik and the mainland.

I did not really research in detail the island, except that I know where we will be having our lunch. It is also nice to leave an element of surprise during the travels you know. It makes the whole journey fun and exciting. It makes us younger beyond our greying years. Greying because my hairs now have slowly turned to grey. A few years ago, I could still count my grey hairs by hand, but now I cannot!

There were group tours as well that came with the boat.

Passengers disembarking the ferry in the port of Lokrum Island.

Anyway, Bubbles and I were up to see new things. The island has a map and has many directional signs. Because it is a preserved nature reserve island, there are no vehicles here. You will be able to walk around the island in less than an hour I think, which was something we didn’t do by the way because we only stuck to seeing a few places.

There are directional signs such as these all over the island.

Here is a map of the island:

Our first stop is the Benedictine Abbey ruins and the Church of Annunciation.

Lokrum is a monastic island from the Order of Saint Benedict that goes back to the medieval times. In 1023, the municipality of Dubrovnik donated the island of Lokrum to the Black Monks – the Benedictines – stipulating that they should build a church and monastery and run the economy on their own.

The part of the monastery structure that survived and now preserved.

Courtyard garden of the  Benedictine monastery.

Only the abbot, the friars and a few poor men live on the island. They grow their own vineyards and vegetation and raised their own animals. The motto back then was ‘Pray and Work’. The monastery has close ties to Italy and I guess one can say it has seen a lot through history. The crusades, the Ottoman invasion, the 20th-century world wars.

Although the abbey is in ruins, there are still nice parts of it that can be seen and appreciated, such as the arched hallways and the garden courtyard. In the abbey ruins, you can also find a café restaurant. The nice thing about this place is that the tables are located in nooks beside the ruins with windows looking towards the gardens. The downside is that this is more like a snack bar café. If you prefer to eat better, then I suggest the LR (Lokrum Restaurant), which is where we had our delicious lunch and I will tell more about this in a separate post.

A very nice nook to have lunch.

The cafe restaurant is located in the Benedictine monastery ruins.

The island is also inhabited by lovely peacocks and rabbits. We managed to see a number of peacocks roaming around freely, although the rabbits seemed to be in hiding somewhere as we only saw 1.

This animal is stunningly beautiful. Did you know that the peacock with the big colourful tail that turns into a fan is the male peacock?

These furry animals (rabbits) also live on the island.

Then we walked back to the Church of Annunciation. The church is not anymore a functioning church but a museum and a place for holding exhibits and events.

In the basement of the church is the island’s museum giving a very informative walk back through the highlights of its history. I suggest in fact to visit this first before checking out the Abbey and the rest of the island. There’s a lot of information to digest here which would be very helpful in having a good understanding of the island. I am sure the history enthusiast will be very much delighted here.

The tunnel to the museum of the island's monastic history in the basement of the Church of the Annunciation. The Game of Thrones exhibit is right above it.

On the church grounds, itself is the exhibition of the successful Hollywood film, Game of Thrones.

I haven’t really watched the movie, so I don’t have much to add. We were able though to see some scene snippets when it was filmed in Dubrovnik but because we don’t know the story and background of the film, we can’t really be that excited. But we grabbed the opportunity though to sit on this massive medieval thorny-looking barbaric throne. This is, after all, the ‘Game of Thrones’ so much as well take a souvenir shot of moi sitting on this scary-looking throne!

The "Queen of Thrones", haha. After a closer look, I realised that the throne is a throne of swords.

Game of Thrones scenes in Dubrovnik.

More of Lokrum Island next.

Travel Period: April 2017
Destination: Lokrum Island, Dubrovnik (Dubrovnik-Neretva), Croatia

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Happy Travels! Enjoy Life =)

All pictures were taken by a point and shoot pocket camera or a smartphone.

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