Island Palagruza

Palagruža (pronounced [palǎɡruːʒa]; from Ancient greek Pelagousae Πελαγούσαι, Italian: Pelagosa) is a small, remote archipelago of dolomite in the middle of the Adriatic Sea in Croatia.[1]It consists of one main island, called Vela or Velika (‘Great’) Palagruža, and one smaller one, Mala (‘Little’) Palagruža, and there are twenty or so other closely associated rocks or reefs. All the main islets are in the form of steep ridges.The place is some 123 km south of Split, Croatia, and 160 east of Pescara, Italy. It is visible from land only from other remote islands of Italy and Croatia. The archipelago is the southernmost point of the Republic of Croatia[2] and its most inaccessible part. It can be reached only by chartered motor-boat, requiring a journey of two to three hours from the island of Korčula.

Topography, economy and ecology

Vela Palagruža is some 1300 metres long and 350 metres wide. The highest point of the archipelago, on Vela Palagruža (Italian: Pelagosa Grande), is about 90 metres above sea-level, and on this elevation is a lighthouse.[3] Palagruža is surrounded by dangerous waters, and landing can be difficult. It is uninhabited, except by lighthouse staff and by summer tourists who occupy two units of residential accommodation.[4] There is one beach of golden sand. The lighthouse is also the site of a meteorological station. Other important islands in this archipelago are Mala Palagruža (Italian: Pelagosa Piccola), Galijula (Italian: Caiola) and Kamik od Tramuntane (Italian: Sasso di Tramontana)Palagruža sits in the heart of fish-rich seas, including spawning-grounds of sardines (Božanić 1973). It is a nature reserve, and where there is vegetation it is of the Mediterranean type, for instance oleander (Nerium oleander) and Tree Spurge (Euphorbia dendroides). There are endemic plant species including a type of knapweed, Centaurea friderici Vis. (Palagruška zečina in Croatian). The algae, and their role in the production of the local mineral pelagosite, have been the subject of academic study (Montanari et al. 2007). The distinctive local fauna, including the black lizard now classed as Podarcis melisellenis ssp. fiumana and the related Podarcis sicula ssp. pelagosana (primorska gušterica in Croatian), was mentioned first by Babić and Rössler (1912).

Geology

Velika Palagruža is an apical part of subsurface geological complex, composed of carbonate, siliciclastic and evaporite rocks of different ages, ranging from Triassic (approx. 220 mil. years ago), through Miocene (approx. 10 mil. years ago), to Quaternary (recent deposition).[5]

Climate

Palagruža has a climate unusual in Croatia due to its maritime location. It is not a Mediterranean climate, more subtropical on account of its warm winter temperatures and its hot summers. The climate and vegetation resemble those of the south of Crete, Gibraltar and even parts of North Africa. The flora is different from that of Dalmatia in that it is subtropical.

Name

The place is known in Italian as Pelagosa, derived from Greek pèlagos πέλαγος ‘sea’. This is the source of the current Croatian name, as well as of the name of pelagosite. Perhaps the transformation of the third syllable in the island’s name is due to awareness of Gruž, the name of the northern harbour of Dubrovnik[citation needed]. Gruž also means ‘ballast’ in Croatian, and the term is therefore well known in two ways to seafarers.

Animals

Lizard on Palagruža

There are not very many types of creatures on this island but the ones that do live there are bright and colourful. Some snakes are poisonous but are mostly harmless.[6]

Legend and history

For some, Palagruža is associated with the Homeric hero Diomedes, king of Argos, who is reputed to be buried here, though it is hard to imagine where. Speculation is fuelled by the discovery of a painted 6th-century BC. Greek potsherd with the name Diomed[es] on it (see image on Adriatica). A shrine of the cult of Diomedes here is perfectly thinkable. Authentic archaeological finds of the Neolithic, Greek,[7][8] Roman, and early medieval periods have been recorded.It is reliably recorded that the galley-fleet of Pope Alexander III landed here on 9 March 1177.Palagruža is closer to Italy than to the Croatian mainland, being some 42 km from Monte Gargano. Before 1861, it belonged to the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, and after 1861 therefore to Italy, but was ceded to Austria-Hungary by the Dreikaiserbund treaty (‘Three Emperors’ Alliance’) in 1873. The first action of the new authorities was to build the important lighthouse mentioned above, in 1875. It reverted to Italy between the two World Wars, as part of the province of Zara (now Zadar, Croatia), and was ceded to Yugoslavia in 1947. Since the break-up of Yugoslavia, it has formed part of the sovereign country of Croatia. It is the centre of a traditional fishing-ground of the community of Komiža, island of Vis, Croatia.[9]Source: Wikipedia

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