Brac Island, Croatia
Written by Missy Johnston
Known as the “Stonecutter’s Island” due to the extensive quarries of white limestone and marble found on the island, both of which are perfect for building and sculpting, this island, close to Split, is a quieter laid back island peopled by every day working Croatians; many of whom are working at traditional crafts. Spend a night anchored in one of the beautiful anchorages on the island and head ashore to explore on a crewed yacht charter.
The oldest settlement on the island, Skrip, is actually inland, as often was the case in earlier times, so as to be hidden away from the coast and pirate raids. Housed in a 16th century Radojkovic Tower, the Museum of Brac is located in Skrip which if open when you are there is worth a visit. Also, in Skrip, visit the Olive Oil Museum and Tasting Room which is a restored family olive oil mill that first opened back in 1864. With an advance call, a family member will explain the olive oil pressing process as was done for centuries with the traditional olive oil press in the museum, and after provide olive oil tastings of various oils, including herbed oils, and also vinegars. Close by the Olive Oil Museum is a small but very interesting museum of Antiquities excavated on the island.
The island of Brac is home to the only Stonemasonry School in Croatia, and one of few in all the world, where students still learn everything about manually cutting stone, both for building needs, and for sculptures and decorative building trims. The school is located in Pucisca and is continuing a tradition more than 100 years old of teaching traditional stone cutting. Brac stone is known all over the world today and in the past the stone was quarried and used by every civilization in Croatia for millenniums, as it was Brac stone that was used to build Diocletian’s Palace in Split and is said to have been used in the original building or repairs of the White House in Washington D.C. The school does allow visitors that are interested in traditional manners of stonecutting to tour the school and see students at work.
Brac Island is a hiker’s paradise, with trails running across the island through fields where wild herbs grow with abandon. The most popular hiking trails are from Bol to Vidova Gora summit, Murvica to Dragon’s Cave, Nerezisca to Blaca Hermitage, Farska to Blaca Hermitage, and from Sumartin to Planik. The beach of Zlatni Rat (Golden Horn), a promontory that is only beach sand, is a well-known landmark on the island. This is a great spot to anchor off, and set up a lovely beach picnic. Afficionarios of the sport feel this is an excellent place for windsurfing on either side of the Horn.
With the massive amount of limestone and marble on Brac, wineries on the island are producing some excellent wines, with grapevines planted into the limestone adding that little bit of extra to the grapes. And if you happen to visit the Franciscan Monastery in Bol ask to taste their homemade dessert wine Prosek, Stop at Brac Island and explore ashore to see the more traditional side of Croatian life when cruising on a private yacht charter.
What to See and Do on Brac Island, Croatia
Pusisca Stonemasonary School: A tour can be set up with a private tour guide, or just wander through the school, keeping in mind that it is an active school. Depending on when visiting the school, there may be students hard at work, who must learn for the first 3 years how to carve stone by hand.
Museum of Brac: Located in Skrip, there are stone sculptures carved on Brac from Brac stone, and also artifacts from every day life along with antiquities found in excavations. Curator may give a tour.
Olive Oil Museum: Call in advance to make sure the family will have the museum open and that there is a family member to explain how the traditional olive oil press worked. Small entrance fee which includes olive oil tastings.
Antiquities Museum: Just a short walk from the Olive Oil Museum, call to make sure this museum is open. The museum is small, but has interesting exhibits of antiquities that have been excavated on the island. Small entrance fee.
Blaca Hermitage: A monastery museum of what was once a working monastery founded in the 16th century. The museum is either a hike in from an anchorage, or a shorter hike from an inland car park. Good hiking shoes should be worn, and there is an entrance fee, which pays for a guided tour about how the monastery operated and survived making and selling honey, wine, and olive oil. Hidden in a valley with a lovely view of the sea.
Dominican Monastery: A still active monastery located near Bol on the water with a lovely garden, bell tower, and graveyard. The Monastery was founded in 1475 and was influential in the region. The altar has a Tintoretto painting. Services occur, which visitors are welcome to join, otherwise the monastery is not always open to visitors.
Fortress Starigrad: Sitting on the top of the hill overlooking Omis, there is a spectacular view from the fortress, however hiking up and back can be strenuous. There are two trails, one very challenging, and the other easier. There is a small entrance fee to go inside the fortress.
Zlatni Rat (Golden Horn) Beach: A lovely all sand promontory which is great for swimming, picnics, and windsurfing.
Hiking: Brac is a hiker’s island with numerous hiking trails, and hikes required to see certain island highlights.
Wineries: Check to see what wineries might be open and offering tastings.