Friday, October 8, 2010

Lokrum Second Attempt

The following day dawned bright and sunny. We were back to tracing the identity crisis of Lokrum Island.

In 1959, a Botanical Garden was founded on the island, the island became a nature reserve in 1964 and a special forest vegetation reserve in 1976. It features many tropical and sub-tropical species.

In 1806, the French built a star shaped fortress they called Forte Royale at the highest elevation of Lokrum. From the height of 91 meters, they had a marvelous view of the island and the city of Dubrovnik.
We enjoyed the same view and Stanley gave me a much-needed lesson about guns.

Unmentioned in the many books on Lokrum is the uncultivated rock garden I discovered at the top of the fort. Precious little gems!

The two pictures at the top feature two of the bathing spots for Charlotte and her royal guests.
She and Maximilian were in residence here off and on during the 1860's.

Represented by Stanley, the island has long been a place of inspiration and meditation.

The middle picture on the bottom is of one of the long, windowless walls that made up Lazaret, the leprosarium, built between 1534 and 1557. As far as I can tell, it was never used for that purpose because the good citizens of Dubrovnik feared it was so strongly built it might become a conquering base. In 1647, a part of Lazaret was demolished by order of the Senate and its stones were used to fortify the walls of Dubrovnik.

Saving the best for last, in the 1970's, Lokrum became known as the Island of Love, and for a time it must have been a wild place.
That was then; this is now . . .
Today a tiny piece of isolated, rock strewn beach is set aside for nude sunbathing and swimming. The rest of the island has been given over to the textile tourists.
I didn't see much bare skin. It was too darn chilly. Darn!

How's that for the end of an identity crisis?

History is never easy to sort out and this is no exception. Here is my best effort.
The island was purchased by Maximilian's wife, Archduchess Charlotte of Austria with part of her marriage dowry.
Time passed and she and Maximilian became Emperor and Empress of Mexico.
More time passed and Maximilian was executed.
More time passed and Charlotte became insane.
The island was given to Archduchess Elizabeth Marie of Austria.
Time passed and Yugoslavia claimed it.
By now Elizabeth was a princess. She sued Yugoslavia.
Time passed.
Finally, the case was solved when Croatia paid the good princess $575,000.
Ain't Wikipedia a wonderful thing?

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