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Pelješac: The Contested Peninsula

Pelješac: The Contested Peninsula

Pelješac, or Sabbioncello if you speak Italian, is a tiny peninsula in the south of Dalmatia, which is situated in the Narretan territory.  The history of the name is very interesting. In fact, the Greeks used to call it Hyllis, while in the Middle Age, so until half of the second millennium, this piece of land on the sea was known as Punta or Ratanea. The current name comes from 1334, when in an archive of the city of Ragusa, a document was found, in which the peninsula had the name of Sabbioncello.

Anyway, it is still difficult to go back in time and study the etymology of Pelješac. We know that the original name,  Pelješac, seems to come from the name of a hill, situated near the city of Orebic, called Pelisac. As said, the modern denomination is very recnt and the history of the name of the peninsula is so ambiguous as the history of this land itself.  

The peninsula is not very big. In fact, the area is only 342 squared kilometres and the population is around 8000 people. Thanks to its geographical structure, this territory is a point of holiday very famous, both for the lovers of the sea and those who prefer mountains instead. Why? Simply put, the peninsula shows a pretty interesting mountain profile, with peaks that reach up to 950 meters of height. For the Italians, it can be said that Pelješac is the equivalent of Elba’s island. The peninsula is full of bay of different dimensions, which offer a wonderful experience of see and sun to all tourists. Furthermore, some channels divide the peninsula from the island of Curzola and Meleda, which are very famous as well. If you think to go to Croatia on holiday, do not miss this paradise: lots of fun, a fascinating history and polite people are waiting for you.  

Not only the fun pushes people to visit the peninsula of Pelješac. Also the history did its thing and left important traces of life and stories, for the people that will come in the future. In fact, by exploring the area, one can learn the existence of the so called Ston wall. The Ston wall is a giant wall built around the peninsula, to defend the republic of Ragusa from the enemies. Today, the rests are well visible and the wall goes around the biggest portion of the territory. It is the second largest wall in Europe: an important monument of which not many seem to be aware of. How did the republic of Ragusa fall? In 1806, the French Empire occupied the region, gaining it with strength and abolishing any autonomy constitution of the peninsula. Not much time later, all the territory felt under the French power and, in 1815, was gifted to the Austrian Empire. From 1918 to 1999, the peninsula was part of the ex Yugoslavia. After the war of Balkans and the split of Yugoslavia into many independent countries, the peninsula of Pelješac was assigned to Croatia.  

The peninsula, besides being connected naturally with the rest of Croatia, will be connected to the rest of the state with a bridge. The project, called Pelješac Bridge, is part of the bigger vision, which wants to create a unique connection for all the little islands of Croatia, which nowadays are often reachable only by boat. Unfortunately, some social and political conflicts with Bosnia and Herzegovina, retarded the start of the work, which has been suspended until official contracts for a peaceful division of the natural space will be signed by both countries.  

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