Floating proudly along the coastline of central Dalmatia, Brac Island (pronounced ‘Bratch’) is the epitome of an undiscovered gem. With popular Split located close by and the sparkling jewels of Hvar and Korcula just to the south, it’s been long overlooked by tourists. However, it’s for this reason that curious globetrotters should add it to the top of their list.
With quiet village streets, a rich history stretching all the way back to Neolithic times and some of the best olive oil in Europe, Brac Island offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in authentic Croatian life.
A Trio of Towns
This medieval hilltop town exudes simplicity and bucolic charm, and is truly the heart of the island. With a tiny population of around two hundred people, it’s a place steeped in tradition – definitely not one to miss if you’re a history buff.
The community centre is the imposing structure of Radojkovic’s Citadel, a sixteenth-century tower that has been repurposed as the Brac Museum. Surrounding this are the Cyclopean Walls, which date back to the Illyrian settlers. Continuing the fascinating timeline is the Roman mausoleum, where you’ll find the remains of Valeria and Priska, the daughter and wife of Emperor Diocletian.
If it’s art you’re after, take yourself to the Baroque Church of St. Helena. This eighteenth-century building houses four paintings by the renowned Palma the Younger. According to legend, this is the site where Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine, was born.
Top Tip: Skrip is a perfect half-day trip. Aim to arrive in the morning when the museum is open and you’ll also have time to wander around the interesting olive oil museum.
Nestled on the northern coast, this unassuming quarry town has become the cultural centre of the island. Pucisca is renowned throughout the world for the quarrying and cutting of its lustrous Brac stone, which has been associated with the highest echelons of society throughout history. The striking stone was used for Diocletian’s Palace, in the grand architecture of Venice and even in the White House in Washington DC.
The prestigious stonemason school has been revered for its artistry for over a century and provides unique training. Due to this fame, Pucisca has gradually evolved into a cultural hub. Every summer the music school attracts both local and international artists. There are workshops and concerts, and every street is filled with music.
Surrounded by countryside full of vineyards, olive groves and pine woods, Supetar is a picturesque town that is the perfect base for visitors to the island. Although it’s the largest by far, it’s often overlooked by travellers on their way to Bol. However, its attractive harbour and winding medieval streets lined with cafes make it a romantic destination that warrants more attention than it receives.
Although it’s a fantastic starting point for those who want to explore the rest of Brac, there’s plenty to see in the town itself. The star attraction by far is the Church of Annunciation. Sitting on the site of an early Christian basilica, it’s a building with many lives, having been destroyed and rebuilt twice. There are, however, some mosaics and tombs preserved from the original church – definitely worth a look if you’re interested in the history of the place.
For sculpture fans, a visit to the small gallery dedicated to the world-famous sculptor Ivan Rendić, who was born in Supetar, is a must. Take a stroll to the local cemetery and you’ll find some of his work in the form of tombstones scattered about. This graveyard may not look like much, but used to be the heart of ancient Supetar. Outside the entrance, you’ll find wonderful examples of Roman rural architecture, some of which date back to the sixth century.
If you’re in need of a few hours of relaxation, the beachside promenade in the west provides lovely views of the sea stretching out towards the mainland – a lovely place to watch the sunset after a day of exploring.
Where to Stay
You may be here to experience authentic local life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in a little luxury.
Hotel Amor, located in Supetar, is a four-star hotel beautifully constructed out of glass, wood and stone, and established on the foundations of a pre-existing hotel. Its modern interior is accented with soothing tones of green and natural materials, creating the ultimate relaxing environment. Guests have a choice of suites and superior rooms boasting both sea and park views, all complete with a balcony. There’s access to all the essentials, including complimentary WiFi, air conditioning and a mini bar.