Croatia is filled with amazing places to visit. Road tripping around the country is easy when most of the country is within an hour to four hours away from wherever you are. Split isn’t far from Zagreb, only four to five hours drive, and if we go there in the late afternoon, we’ll be in Split for dinner. The Mediterranean air does wonders when you need to clear your head from work.
We decided to go to Split for a weekend getaway. Little did I know that it’s going to end up us visiting Brač and discovering Pustinja Blaca. I’ve never heard of Pustinja Blaca before, and as it goes with hidden jewels, they end up being truly amazing.
Bol is on the island of Brač
Brač is known for its white stone that was used even in the making of the White House. It’s also famous for windsurfing and most recently, for its own Tribidrag Crljenak. And that’s actually Zinfandel. As soon as I heard it, my wine bells started to ring.
Stina (meaning: rock) is a local winery that produces Tribidrag Crljenak, and I’m just crazy about red ones. Besides excellent wine selection, there’s also a long history behind Stina winery and it’s located right in the port.
So, during the summer, guests drink wine while dipping their feet in the Adriatic sea. In the distance, there’s a beautiful sunset and the island of Hvar. Best tv-screen ever.
There’re also windsurfers and kitesurfers gliding around. It’s one of the most visited windsurfing locations in Croatia. And just the right amount of action in my field of view, so even when I’m not doing anything (which is hardly ever), something’s going on. Just perfect, I can relax and enjoy the sights.
Change of plan
All of that seems like a great idea, but it’s the off-season. Dalmatia is still warm for the time of the year. It gets up to 50-53°F in February, and it’s constantly sunny. People in Split drink coffee in the middle of the day wearing only a t-shirt.
So, I called a friend of mine from Hvar, just to check up on, and told us to visit Pustinja Blaca (The Blaca Hermitage). Never before have I heard about Pustinja Blaca. Pustinja means a desert, but it doesn’t have to do anything with a desert. Apparently, hermits in the Croatian language is said pustinjaci, which is quite similar to pustinja (the dessert), therefore the confusion in translation.
Pustinja Blaca is a place where solitary people lived. The first group of hermits moved there in the 16th century and at the time they lived in a cave. Through centuries they built an amazing community that’s located up in the cliffs of the island of Brač. From a distance, it looks like a mysterious castle in which the astronomical secrets are kept.
We were introduced to his colleague in Bol, and it ended up with us having a guided tour of the island of Brač. Vlado, the guy from Bol, is knowledgeable and a true enthusiast when it comes to Bol. So if you’re looking to visit Bol, get in touch with him.
A bit of biking, a bit of hiking
There’s no other way to get there but on foot. First, we went halfway with e-bikes. And that’s an excellent solution to discover the island. Even if you’re a bit out of shape, they’ll give you a push when you need it. Like driving a softer version of a crosser.
The scenery was just amazing. Vineyards, sea, hills, olives, stone houses, a true Dalmatia. From time to time, abandoned monasteries up in the hills, that all look like Middle Age castles. At a certain point, we left our bikes and continued on foot.
The hiking trail was well marked and passable. Just enough shade to soften the still warm winter sun. And a crystal blue sea that was just calling for a swim. But the sea temperature at the time was only 57°F.
Pustinja Blaca (The Blaca Hermitage)
After passing through the canyon and seeing hollows up in cliffs, terraces where vines were grown all around, finally we came to Pustinja Blaca. It was nothing like I imagined at first. I saw a few photos online, but still, it was just amazing.
All the time while you’re walking there, you can’t spot it. It can’t be seen from the sea, and the colour of the stone of which it was made, is the same as the surrounding. And then from nowhere, it pops out.
Stairs lead to the port. Behind them lies a wide yard made out of stone. Just like everything else. In the yard is a wooden wine press surrounded by a couple of tables. Above it, is a roof that gives a bit of shade during hot summer days. All around stone stairs leading to different parts of Pustinja Blaca. In certain areas, stairs are engraved in the rocky hillside. And altogether, Pustinja Blaca is leaning on a hill above.
An employee that works there took us all around and told us amazing stories about the history of Pustinja Blaca. Hermits who lived there created a community that flourished between the 17th and 20th centuries. They lived for themselves but together with a community. Within the walls of Pustinja Blaca they had schools, storages of food, libraries, sleeping chambers, chapels, dining rooms, armouries, you name it they had it. They were cattle breeders, beekeepers, winegrowers, scientists, astronomers, and yet commoners.
The guided tour lasted over an hour, and it felt like five minutes. Rich with so many exponents and colourful history Pustinja Blaca is one of those places you remember.
Today, Pustinja Blaca is a museum located off a beaten path, accessible only to the most persistent ones.
If it were summer a short swim would be great
We went back the same way. Sun was high on the horizon. Bol and Pustinja Blaca are located on the southern side of Brač, so they get the most sun on the island. Even though the sea was a bit too cold for my taste, a nice ride back refreshed us before dinner. The wind was blowing, the vineyards were glowing. It was time to dine and enjoy a bottle of wine. We earned it. Subscribe for more Croatian travel posts, have a lovely day