Lopud Island is famous for having the one of the best beaches in the Dubrovnik region. Sunj (pronounced shoon) beach is certainly the best beach in the Elafiti Islands. It's composed of fine, white sand (extremely rare in Croatia) and is backed by lush, green hills. Naturally it gets busy on summer days when tour boats arrive and everyone in the region with a motorised vessel heads out there for a swim. Yet, when the boats leave and off-season, it's the Adriatic at its best.
The main settlement is the port of Lopud which has a number of cafes, restaurants and hotels, but inland there is little development--just luxuriant vegetation.
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Lopud has been inhabited since antiquity and belonged to Ragusa (Dubrovnik) as early as the 7th century. Refugees from the Turks flowed onto the island in the 15th century and the island grew rapidly from then to the 17th century. At one time its ships comprised a quarter of the Dubrovnik navy and took part in a number of important expeditions. By the 17th century, 14000 people were living on Lopud, nearly all involved in seafaring from sailors to sea captains to shipowners.
The island had two monasteries, 30 churches and a number of noble palaces. Like the rest of Dubrovnik, it was wrecked in the earthquake of 1667 and was never again able to attain its former glory. From the 18th to the early 20th centuries, the French, English and Austrians took turns commandeering the strategically located little island.
Although all is derelict now, it can be oddly evocative to wander around the ruins of bygone times. Near the wharf is the Franciscan monastery with a cloister, founded in 1458 and abandoned under the French occupation of 1808. The church can be visited and it contains paintings from the 16th and 17th centuries from Pietro da Giovanni, Nikola Bozidarevic, Girolamo da Santacroce. Notice the depiction of St Blaise in the tryptich by Bozidarevic to the right of the altar.
East of the port are the ruins of Fort Spanjol dating from 1653. The magnificent view from the top makes a worthwhile climb.
Near the coast are sea captains' villas and the plainer houses of sailors. Particularly notable is the ruined house of Miho Pracat, the 16th-century wealthy merchant whose bust stands in the Rector's Palace in Dubrovnik and a 15th-century Dominican monastery dating from 1482. Take the path past the Lafodia hotel to the western end, Benesin Rat. Over the settlement are the ruins of a former Ducal palace with a terraced garden.
Three-star hotels in Lopud
It takes 50 minutes to get to Lopud by boat from Dubrovnik and there's a Tourist Office (tel 020-759 086) on the harbour. It's closed off-season however.
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