A short ferry-hop from Korčula, the small town of OREBIC was a subsidiary trading outlet of the Dubrovnik Republic for almost five hundred years, and later enjoyed a brief period of extraordinary prosperity during the nineteenth-century revival of Adriatic trade, during which the town's merchants set up a maritime society, built a huge church and constructed their own shipyards to supply an independent merchant fleet. The bubble soon burst, however, and the society and yards were wound up in 1887, after which the town slipped back into obscurity until the emergence of mass tourism. Orebić has featured in the package brochures ever since, largely on account of its long shingle beaches.
Today, Orebić straggles along the seashore on either side of its jetties, an aimless but attractive mixture of the old and new. The best part of town is along Obala Pomoraca, just east of the quays, where generations of sea captains built a series of comfortable country villas, set behind a luscious subtropical screen of palms and cacti. The Maritime Museum (Pomorski muzej; Mon-Fri 9am-noon & 6-8pm) at Trg Mimbeli 12 sports a few crusty amphorae and a dull collection of naval memorabilia relating to the Orebi6 fleet. Far better to head up to the Franciscan monastery (Franjevački samostan; Mon-Sat 9am-noon & 4-6pm, Sun 4-6pm) on a rocky spur twenty minutes' walk out of town - to get there, head west from the ferry quay as far as the Bellevue hotel, then bear right onto the road which snakes up the hillside.The monastery was built in the 1480s to house a miraculous icon known as Our Lady of the Angels, brought here by Franciscans from the Bay of Kotor, just south of Dubrovnik.The icon was thought to protect mariners from shipwreck - Orebić ship captains would sound their sirens on passing the monastery on their way into port. The picture still occupies pride of place in the church: a stylized, Byzantine-influenced Madonna and Childsurrounded by an oversized frame in which gilded angels cavort in a sky full of bluish cotton-wool clouds. The monastery museum displays votive paintings commissioned by crews who were saved from pirates or storms after offering prayers to the Virgin, and models of ships once owned by Orebić magnates such as the Mimbeli brothers, whose onion-domed mausoleum can be seen in the graveyard outside. There's also a wonderful view of the Pelješac channel from the monastery's terrace.
There are even better views from the 961-metre summit of Sveti Ilija, the bare mountain which looms over Orebič to the northwest. A marked path to  the summit (4hr walk each way) strikes uphill before you get to the monastery (look out for the red-and-white paint marks on the rocks), although it's largely unshaded. There are some lovely pebble beaches stretching west from the ferry terminals in front of the hotels, although the best of Orebić's beaches is twenty minutes' walk east from the ferry terminal at Trstenica, where you'll find a crescent of shingle just about fine enough to make sandcastles out Of, and views of the distant island of Mljet's ragged coast.
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