The name Korcula comes from the Greek name for this island which was Korkyra Melania. The first Greek settlers of Korcula came from the island of Corfu, and Corfu in Greek is Korkyra. When they first saw Korcula, the Greeks were amazed by the dense forests which made the island look almost black. Hence they named it Korkyra Melania, which translates as Black Corfu. Later, during the rule of the Romans, the island was called Korkyra Nigra.
Some theories pinpoint Korcula as ancient Aeaea, the magical island from Odysseus' travels where the sorceress Circe lived. She turned Odysseus' men into pigs and turned them back to their human form after Odysseus became her lover. Odysseus lived with Circe at Aeaea for a year, but unable to forget his family, he and his crew set sails to their home island of Ithaca.
Korcula has many quarries and for centuries it was known for its quality stone as well as expert local masons. The stone from Korcula is used for constructing famous buildings such as the Haggia Sophia in Istanbul and the parliament building in Vienna.
The town of Korcula was the first to abolish the horrendous act of slavery in the world, and it was done in 1214, by the town's statute.
Vela Luka is at the same time the youngest and the oldest settlement on the island. The youngest because it gained the status of an independent municipality in the late 19th century. The oldest because human remains and various artifacts found in the Big Cave strongly suggest this area was inhabited as early as 18000 BC.
If you enjoy the sunshine, Vela Luka is just the town for you. With 2600-2700 sunny hours per year, here you will bask in an abundance of beneficial sun rays.
In the vicinity of Blato, along a marked hiking trail, you will come across a magnificent olive tree which is almost 1000 years old. The oldest cypress tree on the island can be found in front of the parish church in the village of Cara. With an estimated 500 years of age and 50 m of height, this tree surely is an impressive sight.