Marco Polo was here 700 years ago ...

Marco Polo

Reconstruction of the battle - photos

2001- photos

2003 - photos

One of the biggest naval battles in the Middle Ages took place before Korcula, just in front of the promonitory Raznjic at the nowadays Lumbarda.
The Genoese fleet consisted of 85 galleys while the Venetian fleet was the biggest war fleet the Venetians had ever sent to sea: 96 galleys and three big ships. The only fleet which could match it was the fleet the Venetians equipped for the Saint League at the battle of Lepanto in 1571.
The battle began on Sunday 7th of September early in the morning and lasted until late in the afternoon (Full story from the book "Marco Polo and Korcula").

The day was coming to an end, when the sixteen Genoese galleys, which had lagged behind at Otranto, appeared from the direction of Mljet. They engaged themselves in the battle readily attacking the tiresome Venetian flank. Maybe that was not only the luck of war but the skilfulness of the Genoese, who used tactical flanking reserves in other battles as well, producing them in battle only at the last moment. Doria's victory was great: all Venetian vessels were captured or destroyed, including Admiral Dandolo's big ship.

Marco Polo's GalleyThe Venetian losses were scarcely to be believed: 18 sunk galleys, 66 captured galleys, which Lamba burned on the Korcula beaches because he could not tow them as far as Genoa; 7,000 soldiers, sailors and rowers killed, and 7,400 captured. The entire galley of the Polos was destroyed - a big ship with a total of 120 oars. Marko Polo himself was imprisoned and his heroism was described in these words: "He was captured because he threw himself and his galley to the front of the battle and because he was fighting for his country with great courage and then injured, in chains, he was taken off to Genoa."

Lamba Doria celebrated his victory in the town of Korčula for four days, and then sailed towards Genoa where a magnificent welcome was waiting for him. The victorious fleet sailed into the Genoese port on October 16. Genoa was to remember him as the great victor.

Marko Polo found himself in prison in Genoa, together with thousands of his comrades. In his uncomfortable prison cell, he started to dictate his memoirs of the magnificent travels to China, to Rustichello the writer from Pisa of romantic tales. If the battle before Korčula had not taken place, the stormy and exciting biography of Marko Polo might never have been written. The masterpiece of adventurous and travel literature left unknown!

 

PROGRAMME
700th anniversary of naval battle before Korcula (1298 - 1998)

5. September Opening of the celebration by the solemn session of the International Centre Marco Polo, scientific symposium on the theme: "The naval battle before Korcula of September 7th 1298 and Korcula at that time", opening of the philatelist exhibition on the theme "Naval battles and Marco Polo in philately".
6. September Departure by wooden boats to the battle-field, laying of wreaths on the place of death of, according to historic sources, 9000 sailors. Opening of the exhibition "Korcula shipbuilding and shipping through centuries".
7. September A big parade of Korcula historic units of Moreska, Kumpanija, Mostra, with participation of brass bands. Reconstruction of the naval battle before Korcula in the waters of the Peljesac Channel, and sailing of boats to the port of Korcula escorting the imprisoned Marco Polo and his crew to the Prison Tower. The night of Marco Polo, entertainment and gastronomic feast.
8. September Opening of the exhibition "Impact of Gothic arhitecture on buiding in Venice and Korcula" (organized by the international foundation "Save Dalmatia Fund").
13. September The Votive mass with the participation of the "Hrvatski sakralni trio" from Zagreb. (The St. Marco Cathedral)
14. September Opening of the exhibition of the books about Marco Polo on the theme "Marco Polo in literary works" (organized by City Library of Korcula).
19. September The end of the celebrating anniversary with special session of the International Centre Marco Polo.

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