Lokrum is one of a series of beautiful islands off the coast of Croatia. Just 2,000 feet from the port of Dubrovnik, it has long been inhabited, with recorded mentions dating back as early as the 11th century, when Lokrum was the site of a Benedictine abbey and monastery. The monks took advantage of the favorable climate by harvesting exotic fruits on the island. This gave birth to its name, “Lokrum,” coming from the Latin “acrumen,” meaning a sour fruit.
Stories about the island’s history vary, though one popular telling has it that Lokrum was once struck by widespread fires. The locals prayed to Saint Benedict, vowing to build a monastery if their homes were saved. According to the legend, their prayers were answered by heavy rain, which extinguished the fires, and so the abbey and monastery were built.
When the French came in 1798, the monks were ordered off the island, and as the last Benedictines left in 1808, they supposedly held a mass during which the island was cursed. By 1859, the island was the property of the Habsburgs, and Archduke Maximilian Ferdinand had a regal mansion and botanical gardens constructed on Lokrum. When he later became Emperor of Mexico, and was executed not long after, locals were quick to blame it on the curse.
Even today, the people of Dubrovnik are delighted to share tales of fishing boats swallowed by the sea, or of pleasure seekers who visited Lokrum Island overnight… never to be seen again.