On the island of Brač

The secret of desert enchantment

Blaca Desert is located at the foot of an enormous and isolated rock, on the southern side of the island of Brač, between Bol and Milna, in the area of the present municipality of Nerežišće.

Blaca can be reached from many directions, but always only on foot. After a ten-minute ride by car from Nerezišće to the Dragovode region, half an hour of walking through the Blaca Canyon is in store for you. The trail crossed by mules and horses for centuries is the only connection even today. However, the most picturesque access is from the sea, from Blaca Cove along a narrow trail through the canyon and surrounded on both sides by three-kilometre-long grey rocky cliffs.

The hills leading to Blaca Valley are very steep and rocky, full of gorges, caves and holes. Glagolitic monks settled in one of these cavesin the mid16th century and they are the founders of Blaca Desert. Their new home soon developed into a hermit monastery.

A church, monastery, residence buildings and outbuildings were built, and through work and sacrifice the small friar community acquired great property. Blaca experienced its thriving period in the mid18th century when trade and maritime business expanded with the acquisition of merchant ships. In the second and big renovation at the end of the 19th century the Desert was encircled by 120-metre-long, 8-metre-high and 2-metre wide ramparts.

The glagolitic priests cultivated the land and raised cattle along with the peasants, and their unity was tightened by the Regulations – the backbone of their advancement. Don Nikola Miličević the Elder is considered as the most significant administrator of the Desert. He had a unique apiary built and founded a printing house in Blaca which issued prayer books and regulations as well as books such as “Historical Lines on Blaca Desert” printed in 1897. His heir, don Nikola Miličević the Younger, founded an observatory in the twenties of the past century and equipped it with a library, instruments and a telescope. In 1926 he had the famous Bremer telescope brought to Blaca which is even today the third telescope in Croatia. The last hermit from Blaca passed away in 1963, and the over three hundred years old priestly community disappeared along with him.

The secret of this desert enchantment, a monument to man’s work and persistence, lies in the unique nature and life that went on among the rocks and steep slopes with skimp layers of land to cultivate. Blaca Desert has become s museum institution since 1994, and within its framework are the Brač Island Museum in Škrip and Branko Dešković Gallery in Bol.

Did you know?

Pilgrims visit Blaca Desert on the first Saturday following the Ascension which is celebrated on August 15 and celebrate there the feast of Our Lady of Blaca. Our Unburned Lady, a wooden statue of the Mother of God, is carried in a procession, and it is the only keepsake of the tragic fire of 1724. The statue was brought to Blaca in the 16th century by the glagolitic hermits when fleeing from the Turks.