The jaw-dropping Blaca hermitage, Bol Croatia

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Blaca hermitage in 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 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 the 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.

Pustinja Blaca Mountain Croatia - Chasing the Donkey
The entrance to the Blaca Hermitage- Photo credit Dalmatia Explorer

The monastery was in use for over 400 years, and the area surrounding the cave was cultivated by the monks and workers 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 litres of wine, had hundreds of olive tress and pressed the oil. Sheep, oxen and mules and more than 230 unique stone-carved bee hives carved were onsite making 3,000 kilos of delicious sticky honey each year. The farm’s harvest was used to trade for the goods required at the monastery.

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Classroom in Blaca Hermitage – Photo Credit Kristijan Brkic

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 labour intensive hours.

Our guide took us into a small room, complete with wooden desks, and a large 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. 

Pustinja Blaca Mountain Croatia - Chasing the Donkey
Blaca hermitage – Photo credit Dalmatia Explorer

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 artefacts. 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 were 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 armoury room, where a rich collection of weapons are on display.

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The piana in the Blaca hermitage – Photo Credit Kristijan Brkic
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Some of the weapons in the Blaca hermitage – Photo Credit Kristijan Brkic

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 very hot. 

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 centres in Croatia offering unique olive oil treatments.

If you’d like to know more about  the Blaca hermitage or the town of Bol. visit the Tourist Board’s website and facebook pages.

Have you ever been to and the Blaca Monastery or Brač Island?

We’d like you to know: My stay at Bluesun & tour of Blaca was part of a sponsored trip. All thoughts and opinions are given honestly and without bias.

 
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Comments (23)

  1. Looks like an amazing place to visit! I really have to come to Croatia very soon!

  2. How gorgeous! I love how it is only accessible by a walking path even today. Makes it all the more special!

  3. I’d love to visit this! Wow what a view too. Too bad pictures are prohibited though but I guess it’s for a good reason

  4. Beautiful! Pretty incredible the amount of manual labour that goes into building something like this.

  5. I love visiting old sites like this!! It’s too bad that you weren’t able to take any pictures (It drives me crazy too when I can’t take pictures of beautiful places!), but without the distraction of a camera, you can be fully in the moment!

  6. It’s the green door! (It’s the same one, right?)

    Looks like a fascinating site, very full of history and gorgeous to look at.

    Thanks for another Sunday Traveller, too. A few new posts to check out!

  7. Such a unique place indeed. I love reading about these kinds of spots that don’t make the ‘above the fold’ section of travel recommendations for any given spot.

    The bit about the school reminded me of all the stories my grandma told me when I didnt want to get up for school in the morning: “in our days we considered it a privilege to walk every morning 5 miles, barefoot, in the snow, uphill.” Etc.

  8. What an amazing place!! I LOVE historic sites and such a great story how it was founded. I understand respect, but not allowing photos makes my heart cry. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful place!

  9. So I think I did it! I hope the internet doesn’t break lmao! God do I love the site of Croatia. I really need to spend some time there. I say that about a lot of places… I hope you’re not leaving too soon!

  10. Stunning. It kind of reminds me a little of Montserrat outside of Barcelona, Spain 🙂

  11. That place sounds fascinating. What an incredible history. I was grumbling about wheeling around my heavy suitcase and having to carry it up a few stairs today, so I cannot even imagine carrying a piano uphill that far.

  12. Wow, this looks incredible. I spent a lot of time guiding tours of Meteora in Greece last year and could not believe how much effort must go into creating these places, without all the modern technology we take for granted today. Hope it gets on the World Heritage list soon, looks like it is definitely worthy!

  13. Incredible place. I have visited a similar monastery in Turkey and loved the experience, I would definitely love to see Blaca!

  14. You can’t do much better for a tour guide than one of those brothers. The personal connection to a place really adds to the experience. I’d really enjoy seeing this hermitage and hope I get the chance to return to Croatia soon. Thank you for sharing it!

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