Croatia - the land of a thousand islands - Walking on Brac - By Alan Garner
This walk is on the island of Brac, off the Croatian coast close to Split.
Brac Island (pronounced "Bratch") is the longest and most elevated island in central Dalmatia, 48km long, 14 km wide, covering 394 square kilometres.
Despite its proximity to Split, Brac is less touristy than the glittering islands of Hvar and Korcula further south. No celebrities or tycoons glide their yachts into Brac harbours nor do politicians stroll village streets. For that reason, it provides an excellent window into authentic island life, particularly in the interior.
Brac also has an extensive and fascinating history as it has been inhabited since Neolithic times.
Brac is a relatively dry island; you won't find the lush vegetation of, say Korcula or Hvar, but there are some lovely spots along the rocky shores and great bathing opportunities.
Don't miss the olive oil in Brac! The olives are of a rare variety called buhavica and there's over a half-million trees. Olive cultivation dates to the Venetian years. Back in 1655 the Venetian senate insisted they use Brac olives at state functions. You'll also find an endemic species of pine. Along the coast the woods are mainly Aleppo pine.
Brac is most famous for its beautiful white building stone which has been exploited since ancient Rome. Diocletian's Palace in Split was built from Brac that the island be carpeted with olive trees and imposed fines upon anyone with the temerity to damage the trees.
The highest peak on Brac Island is Vidova Gora at 778m which is the highest peak on the Adriatic islands. The interior of Brac is mostly small valleys and fields while on higher ground, north of Vidova Gora stone is quarried and it is still used in the construction of buildings as far afield as Europe and North America.
This walk takes you to the spectacular summit of Vidora Gora, the highest peak in the Croatian islands,
The walk is not difficult reaching 780 metres at the summit and is well signposted all the way. This route is the easiest to find as it is a continuous track up to the summit. There are other routes from the interior of Brac, but this route represents the quickest way to reach the fantastic sea scape views across many Dalmatian islands.
Start on the road out of Bol at the top of the hill by the intersection of Ul.Donje podbarje and Ul Uz Gozpujuko.
Walk up the road and through the quarry, following clear signs for Vidora Gora and the frequent red and white markings on rocks along the trail.
You now follow the stony track, which zig zags around the hill leading ever upwards. Remember In hot weather this hike requires you to take on water, and yes rest awhile. It is not a difficult climb, but it is continuous.
A little relief part way up as the track goes through a pine forest, but soon you are out on open ground.
You reach a ridge which looks out over Bol and from here it is half an hour to the summit.
The highest peak of Brač features a 12-meter-high monumental cross made of Brač stone, a telecommunication structure and tavern „Vladimir Nazor“. The surrounding area is an old well-known place displaying the remains of a double defence wall that suggest there once was an old Illyrian fortress on this very site. There is an old Croatian chapel whose remains can be found some hundred meters from the peak.
The view from the top reveals the southern coast of the island with its green belt surrounding Bol. The sight of beach Zlatni Rat is particularly alluring; a narrow sand cape penetrating sharply some 600 meters into the big blue
The track however is very stony till you get to the ridge where it becomes a walk across large boulders, take your time, plenty of water stops.
The way down is the same as the way up, just be more careful on the loose limestones – its easy to slip or roll and ankle.
Ascent and descent – from Bol is 780 metres. 11 kilometres.
Allow at least 5 hours which includes an hour at the summit to look round, have your picnic and of course rest and recover.
Ever since ancient times stones have been dug out at the stone excavation sites on the island Brač. (At present, the most important stone excavation place is situated near town of Pučišća.) The stones from island Brač have been used for building some of the well-known world structures.
The high quality stone enabled building a number of famous constructions in Croatia too. The most significant are the Palace of Diocletian, the Cathedral of St James in Šibenik and the Cathedral of St Lawrence in Trogir which have been under World Heritage (UNESCO) protection. The White House in Washington, the Parliament House in Vienna and Budapest were built from stones originated from island Brač. The whole dynasties of famous Croatian stone masons were educated at the quarry near Pučišća during the Renaissance and Baroque period.