If you happen to find yourself on the island of Korcula on a Monday or Thursday evening throughout the summer season (June to September), you’ll have the chance to watch the traditional Moreska sword dancing at the ‘Ljetni Kino’ (Summer Cinema), a small open air stage on the edge of the Old Town. In the unlikely event of rain the performance moves indoors to the ‘Dom Kulture’ (Cultural House).
Originating in Spain in the 12th century to commemorate the conflict between the Moors (hence the name of the dance) and the Christians, it took a while for the tradition to reach Korcula. The first mentions of the dance in Korcula date from the 16th century. Testament to how long it used to take things to ‘go viral’ before mass media perhaps!
The dance’s popularity in Dalmatia is likely due to the parallels with the conflicts between the Christians and the Ottoman Empire and in particular the Battle of Lepanto, the first major defeat suffered by the Ottomans at the hands of the Christians.
Now 400 years on, Korcula is the only place in the mediterranean where you’ll see the Moreska performed regularly. TripAdvisor is rather light on activities on Korcula and this currently holds top spot, though some reviewers aren’t too impressed.
Decide for yourself after watching this video of a Moreska performance, filmed for the Croatian Tourist Board.
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Charlie is head of marketing at JayWay Travel. A long-term Prague resident, his interests are cooking, eating out, cycling, skiing and of course, travel.