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The Jaw-Dropping Blaca Hermitage, Bol Croatia
There is a beauty on Brač Island that extends past Croatia’s most unique beach. For me the real beauty found in Bol is the not-to-be-missed site of the jaw-dropping Blaca hermitage, also referred to as the Blaca monastery or Pustinja Blaca in Croatian. One of several hermitages on the island, the Blaca monastery is located on the southern side of Brač Island. It began in a stone cave where a couple of monks of the Croatian Glagolitic Order used it as a place of solitude to dedicate themselves to God.
The monastery in Blaca was in 2007 thankfully added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List. I for one can see why, what I can’t see, is how it hadn’t made a list sooner! It’s a true inspiration; no words on a page can give you the real sense of this cultural attraction.
Way back in the early part of the 16th century two Glagolitic monks fled the Turks and found shelter in Bol, and were offered the cave as protection. After receiving the certificate of ownership, the founding Monks established the monastery of Blaca and built a church surrounding the cave.
The monastery was in use for over 400 years, and the monks and workers cultivated the area surrounding the cave during that time. Forming not only an intense spiritual place but also using the hermitage as a farm, school and for many years a private astronomical observatory.
The Monks produced many thousands of liters of wine, had hundreds of olive trees, and pressed the oil. Sheep, oxen and mules and more than 230 unique stone-carved beehives carved were onsite making 3,000 kilos of delicious sticky honey each year. The farm’s harvest was used for trading for the goods required at the monastery.
After you walk along the path to reach the Blaca hermitage, you’ll need to take a short break and rest your legs as you catch your breath. If you can, pay the small fee to be taken on a tour of the once-thriving hermitage. Your guide will be one of two brothers who maintain Blaca, now a museum. Easily one of the most unique museums in Croatia, Blaca is a national treasure.
Stepping up into the stone layers which form doorways, paths and a huge open plan stone-kitchen you’ll be in awe of just how the generation of Monks who lived in Blaca, along with the workers maintained their lives there. An old mill carved from stone still stands. You can do as we did, and be reminded of how milling flour once took many labor-intensive hours.
Our guide took us into a small room, complete with wooden desks, and a giant wooden abacus;
Here is the school my father went to, he smiled. My father walked over three kilometres to this school carrying wood as payment each day.
I shook my head in disbelief that small children needed to walk this far to school and back again carrying wood just 50 years ago. I so desperately wanted to take a million photographs, but taking any photos of Blaca is prohibited.
Father Niko Miličević, a well-known astronomer became the last monk to reside in the Blaca hermitage after his passing in 1963, but not before he and the Monks before him collected dozens of eye-opening artifacts. Including 8,000 books, some 400 years old & many written in Glagolitic script.
Along your tour of Blaca, you’ll see paintings, grand walnut furniture, a printing press from 1894 which took one year to produce a book and various other objects which were all acquired using payment in the form of wine, olive oil, and honey.
Each item was shipped to Blaca via boats from Italy and Vienna and was carried up the mountainside by workers. The two biggest pieces in the collection are a telescope, which was acquired after the monks traded a years worth of farm produce to a trader in Venice. The second is a 400 kilo piano.
Weighing 400 kilograms; the piano was carried up the two and a half kilometre steep mountain side by workers of the hermitage. Locals say, that along the way the men drank 56 litres of wine to quench their thirst and give them the boost they needed to make it up the steep hill.
If a piano and telescope are not enough to excite you, be sure to visit the armory room, where a rich collection of weapons are on display.
How to get to the Blaca hermitage
The hermitage is accessible in several ways. One option is to take a car up to Dragovoda, once parked you will need to take a short hike there and back (20 to 40 minutes each way) to reach the entrance to Blaca. The second option is to take the walking trail from the port (tours are easily found), its a steep hike and should only be attempted by those who are fit and without small children. Either way be sure to wear enclosed footwear on your walk and pack lots of water, as it can get sweltering.
Open Tuesday – Sunday 8am – 5pm
Accommodation in Bol Croatia
There are a number of accommodation options in Bol Croatia. Including private apartments, and family-run hotels but your choice should be the Bluesun Hotel Elaphusa, where we enjoyed four-star luxury with views to Zlatni Rat and the Island of Hvar. Hotel Elaphusa can arrange tours to Blaca and all of the local sites for you. Hotel Elaphusa is modern and provides exceptional service. It also has one of the largest wellness centers in Croatia, offering unique olive oil treatments.
Have you ever been to and the Blaca Monastery or Brač Island?Share