Facing the suburb of Ploce is the wooded island of LOKRUM, 1km to the southeast. Reputedly the island where Richard the Lionheart was shipwrecked, it was bought in 1859 by Maximilian von Habsburg, Archduke of Austria (and subsequently Emperor of Mexico). He transformed a former Benedictine monastery here into his summer palace, created a botanical garden which he stocked with exotic plants and cacti, and wrote bad verse alaout the island's beauty. After Maximilian's death in 1867,  the Habsburgs sold the island to a local businessman eager to turn it into a health resort, only to buy it back on behalf of Emperor Franz-Josef's son Rudolf, who wintered here to soothe his bronchial chest.

Boats leave for Lokran from the old town's port every half-hour, and take ten minutes. Unfortunately you can't visit the monastery – just up from the island's jetty – although you can look around the cloister (now home to a restaurant) and wander around Maximilian's Botanical Garden next door, where odd varieties of giant triffid-like cactus look as if they could swallow you whole. The best of the (largely rocky) beaches are beyond the monastery on the island's southwest side, where you'll find a small salt lake just inland, and a naturist beach at the island's southern tip.

 Shady paths overhungby pines run round the northern part of the island, with tracks leading uphill towards Fort Royal, a gun position left by the Napoleonic French whose grey, menacing ramparts rise rather suddenly from the jungle-like greenery covering the island's central ridge.


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