Blaca Hermitage – A Former Settlement Hidden in a Rock

There are places on earth that were created as a result of great hardship and human sacrifice. Blaca Hermitage on the island of Brač is one of them. The buildings, which were built into rock under harsh and inconvenient conditions, impresses with its uniqueness and history.

Pustinja Blaca stone desert hermitage on Brac, Dalmatia, Croatia, Europe
Pustinja Blaca stone desert hermitage on Brac, Dalmatia, Croatia, Europe. Photo: iStock.com / Pavliha

Blaca Hermitage on the Croatian island of Brač is a complex of buildings that includes living quarters, utility rooms, a church, a monastery, a school, a library, and even an observatory. It is a symbol of human perseverance and commitment. The hermitage, built on extremely inaccessible terrain, testifies to the great human sacrifice, struggle against nature, and difficulties.

Where sight does not reach

The origins of the place date back to the sixteenth century when monks seeking refuge from the Turks decided to settle on the island. The hermitage was established on the south side of the island, under the slopes of a mountain between the villages of Bol and Milna. The place was hardly visible from the sea and hard to reach for the enemy.

In the beginning, the hermitage was a small cave that the monks converted into living quarters. A church and a monastery were later erected, and later, residential and utility buildings were built. The hermitage very quickly began to grow and was settled by people forming a small community.

Blaca was completely self-sufficient. Its residents transformed forests into rich vineyards and olive groves, and after that, a vegetable garden and an apiary were established. Sheep and goats grazed on the steep hills, giving the residents food. Today, it is hard to imagine how much work and struggle with the difficult terrain the residents had to endure to be able to develop the island’s rocky terrain.

Today’s museum

Today, Blaca Hermitage is open to the public. The original furnishings in it have been preserved practically in their entirety: furniture, precious paintings, books, and clocks. The lowest level of the hermitage mainly consists of utility rooms with a huge hearth in the middle where the entire community once met for meals and prayer. There is also a school with old wooden benches, which is sure to impress you. The upper part of the building houses a library and an amazing astronomical observatory. It is here that clergyman Nikola Miličević (1887 – 1963) used the largest telescope in the Balkans at that time to discover a new star and a comet. You will be able to see both the telescope and the collection of scientific books and original astronomical documents during your tour of the hermitage.

A path for the persistent

If you want to visit the Blaca Hermitage, you must take care of your stamina because it can only be reached on foot. Two routes are possible. The first one leads from the sea from the picturesque bay to which you can go by cruise ship. The stretch of road that you then have to cover on foot takes about 40 minutes. The second option is to get there by car to the designated parking lot at the top of the mountain, from where you will also have to continue on foot. Don’t worry: the hike is worth it.

A friendly guide will be waiting for you there who will show you around this unique cultural monument and tell you in detail about its history. Get carried away by the stories and enjoy the magic of this wonderful place.

Latest from Croatia