The Jaw-Dropping Blaca Hermitage, Bol Croatia

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Post author SJ

Written by our local expert SJ

Sarah-Jane has lived in Croatia for 10+ years. SJ, as she is known, has been traveling the Balkans & beyond since 2000. She now shares her passion for traveling with her husband & kids.

Blaca hermitage is a stone cave built as a part of the Croatian Glagolitic order. Once a place of solitude for the monks to dedicate themselves to God.

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. For one, I can see why; what I can’t see is how it hadn’t made a list sooner! It’s a real inspiration; no words on a page can give you a 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.

Blaca Hermitage On Brac Island

The monastery was in use for over 400 years. During that time, the monks and workers cultivated the cave area, forming an intensely spiritual place and using the hermitage as a farm, school, and private astronomical observatory for many years.

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.

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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 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 kilometers 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. 

Blaca Hermitage On Brac Island In Summer

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 acquired after the monks traded a year’s 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-kilometer steep mountainside by the hermitage workers. Locals say that the men drank 56 liters of wine along the way 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.

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

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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); it’s 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 several 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.

If you’d like to know more about the Blaca hermitage or the town of Bol, visit the Tourist Board’s Facebook page.

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

In Partnership With Bluesun Hotels

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This post is in partnership with Bluesun Hotels who provided accommodation, transport, and tours. All opinions are mine. The recommendation is given wholeheartedly and without bias.

Comments (23)

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

  4. Stunning. It kind of reminds me a little of Montserrat outside of Barcelona, Spain :)

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

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

  8. 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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