There is nothing like an evening meander through an ancient village; watch out for the little wine shop and a rough flight of stairs to your right. Head up there through people’s gardens, and keep climbing. You’ll eventually see a brown sign pointing to a viewpoint and the church of Sv. Trojstvo (Holy Trinity). Look out for the rocky path underfoot, but keep an eye on the view behind you as you rise above the trees.
You’ll finally reach the tiny stone church and a view of the island that will leave you gasping for what’s left of your breath. This isn’t the highest point on the island of Šipan, but it certainly competes for the most accessible and most beautiful. The fields are far below, but listen and you can hear a pheasant warn that the day is coming to a close. Sitting on the precipitous wall, I was watching the sun go down spectacularly over Mljet, beyond even the majestic Pelješac Peninsular, and down into the Adriatic Sea.
The silent evidence of the passage of time left me considering who else had observed this everyday phenomenon. The abbess’s grave with its lichen encrusted cross gives a clue. Fragments of Renaissance latin text is carved into stone and built into later developments. You can touch the history here, tracing the letters with your fingers. Being a curious type I later asked a local for more information about this place.
“Nothing special or interesting”, she replied.
From the 16th century onwards a community of nuns used to take care of the islanders. They didn’t just do this in the usual pastoral or religious sense, but they acted as the early warning system for when pirates used to carry out regular raids along the coast. From their vantage point, they could see the other churches below, the Benedictines on the Island of Sv Andrija (5 miles away), as well as the towers of Sipanska Luka’s Rectors Palace. In this way they would communicate with everyone, and news would spread.
For those of a romantic disposition, and lover of historical fiction, imagine richly embroidered stories of castaway pirates and young novitiates. Or read about the legend of undying love between a woman from Lopud and a wealthy aristocrat from Dubrovnik, who gave her up to become a monk on Sv Andrija. In a place like this, watching the sun go down, your mind is filled with possible dreams, and living romance. And it is most certainly special and interesting.