Lokrum – The Cursed Island

Lokrum is a small island off the city of Dubrovnik. It is a beautiful little paradise with a restaurant, botanical garden, walking routs and beaches (including a nudist beach). It would be a perfect place for a private mansion or a hotel, yet you will not find those on Lokrum. Why? The history of Lokrum can not be told without its legend. And Lokrum’s legend includes a curse…

Somewhere around the year 1023, there was a big fire in Dubrovnik. The people prayed to Saint Benedict, vowing to build a monastery in his name if he spared the city. The fire was soon extinguished and the people build a Benedictine monastery and a church on Lokrum, which they dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The legend of the Lokrum curse started when a French army general ordered the closure of the monastery and the expulsion of the Benedictines. Three aristocratic families from Dubrovnik were chosen to convey these orders to the monks. The monks tried to prevent this, but they failed.

After the last mass on the island, the monks donned their hooded cloaks and walked around Lokrum in a long, single-file procession. Symbolically, they turned their lighted candles upside-down towards the earth, so that the flame licked the wax, which left a melted trail.

They went around the island this way three times, ceremoniously chanting the terrible and harsh words of the curse: “Whosoever claims Lokrum for his own personal pleasure shall be damned!” At dawn, dead-tired, they embarked on a boat and left the island, never looking back. They never returned.

The legend says the curse soon started to do its work. The heads of those three aristocratic families died: one drowned, one was killed by a servant and one jumped out of a window. Misfortune followed every new owner of the island for several centuries: aristocrats and monarchs went bankrupt, had shipwrecks, barely survived earthquakes or were killed.

So, today, Lokrum is a beautiful destination you will enjoy only during the day. When the night falls, you will need to look for accommodation in Dubrovnik and enjoy the island simply by looking at it across the sea.


Photo by: Helga