Rota Palagruzona – Festival of the Sea

By 25 July 2016

Celebrating Croatia's maritime heritage on Korcula.

If you are looking for one event in Croatia that celebrates this country's vast maritime history than Rota Palagruzona is your answer. Each summer, this event turns Korcula into the centre of Croatian maritime history and it is a true festival of the sea.

Rota Palagruzona is a regatta of traditional fishing boats and the 42 nautical mile route from Komiza to Palagruza is quite challenging, even for the most experienced sailors. First revitalised regatta was held in 2009 to celebrate the voyage fishermen from Korcula took back in 1593 when Falkusa captains travelled to the Lodge in the town of Hvar to set the date for the first ever Komiza Palagruza regatta that gathered 72 Falkusa crews.

For centuries, fishermen from Komiza would sail to Palagruza to catch sardines, beating sometimes impossible conditions at sea on their specially designed Falkusa boats that were a subtype of Gajeta boats used by fishermen in other parts of Dalmatia. Back then, fishing was a well-organised industry so it is no wonder captains in the 16th century wanted to pay homage to this route that was the main source of existence for most of them.

Today, Rota Palagruzona is an event spanning over an entire week, usually in June with several competitions, boat building schools for younger generations, theatre performances and various lectures and workshops, all organised by the city of Komiza, art institution Ars halieutica, association Palagruza and agency Alternatura.

One of the most important legacies of this regatta is the revitalisation of Falkusa, typical fishing boat from Komiza that was almost forgotten, but thanks to the tireless work of prof. Josko Bozanic, t was once again introduced to the world. After the fist Falkusa, Comeza- Lisboa (Komiza Lisbon) was refurbished back in 1997 and exhibited at the World Fair in Lisbon a year later, 3 more were built in the last 20 years, in the shipyards in Murter, the capital of wooden shipbuilding in Croatia. And just to prove how unique this ship really is, we have to mention that the French TV station Planete Thalassa, included it in its documentary about the 10 most interesting traditional boats in the world.

New boats are being built to honour old traditions, and young sailors are being trained to take over the boats for regattas in the future, so there is no doubt Rota Palagruzona will live on for years to come, much to the joy of both locals and tourists that gather in Komiza every year to witness this event.