Mljet: Ulysses in love on Mljet!
Ulysses in love on Mljet!
To suffer a shipwreck may seem like bad luck to a lot of people, but this cannot really be said of Ulysses. He ended up being beached on the magnificent, picturesque island of Mljet and “kept“ in company of the lovely nymph Calypso for the period of full seven years. This Homer’s story tickled the imagination of many, especially those willing to discover the location on which Ulysses fell in love. The experts researching Homer’s Odyssey, followed the routes and clues of Ulysses travels, and found out that Mljet fitted the description of ancient Ogigija best. Mljet was the island of the nymph Calypso who spellbound Ulysses. On the south side of the island there is a cave with a rock in front of it. During high tide, the sea covers the rock which makes it invisible and therefore very dangerous for sailors. This spot, and the landscape surrounding it, fit the description of the place in where Ulysses shipwrecked best of all the other places on the Mediterranean. Southern winds and currents carried Ulysses straignt to the island of Mljet, since this island has a specific position in the Adriatic: anything that floats in through the Strait of Otranto, ends up on its shores. This is why today there are ecological dams which protect these shores from floating rubbish from Italy and Greece during times of southern winds.
On the south side of the island of Mljet there is a cave, Ulysses’ cave, and in front of it there is a rock Ogiran. The cave is egg-shaped and is about 10 metres in diameter. It has a high ceiling, and the sea fills its bottom. A passage has been created in the limestone layers separating the cave from the open sea, which created a tunnel entrance, so it can be accessed by a smaller boat or you can swim inside. It can also be accessed over very steep, improvised steps. Nowadays it is used as a boat shelter during storms which makes it a peculiar port. During summer months, the light creates a spectrum of colours, especially interesting to tourists and lovers of natural phenomena. The Ulysses’ cave used to provide home for the Mediterranean Monk Seal (a type of seal), one of the rarest mammals in the world.
Even Saint Paul visited Mljet!
The second famous castaway who found rescue on the shores of Mljet was St Paul. He saved himself from a shipwreck in 60 AD and swam to the part of Mljet called Saplunara. Even today the rock there bears the name St Paul’s rock. The argument of this famous Saint Paul’s shipwreck is well documented, and there are numerous books and scientific papers on this subject. Similar to Ulysses, Saint Paul was pushed through the Strait of Otranto by a gale-force wind while on his way to Rome, from east. The first shore that was on his way was – Mljet. The New Testament, Acts of the Apostles (chapt.27; 27.39-28.11) mentions this event. Mljet has a peculiar position in the Adriatic: anything that floats in through the Strait of Otranto, ends up on its shores. This is why today there are ecological dams which protect these shores from floating rubbish arriving from Italy and Greece during times of southern winds. This is how, in a very similar way, both Ulysses and Saint Paul, ended up on the island of Mljet.
Mongooses – the most numerous inhabitants of the island!
Small Indian mongoose was brought to the island at the beginning of the 20th century in order to reduce the number of vipers. The problem was successfully solved – there are no more poisonous snakes on the island, but a new problem appeared. The mongooses are now so numerous they became a real pest, eating whatever is in their way.
A unique natural phenomenon of the lakes – an island on the island.
The Lake system phenomenon made Mljet famous around the world. The Great Lake and the Small Lake, together with the channel Soline, which connects the lakes to the open sea, lure natural scientists and nature lovers with their secrets. The system of the Great and Small Lake represents a unique geological and oceanographic karst phenomenon of world importance. In the Great Lake there is St Mary’s island. It is a natural phenomenon of an island on the island. Here one can enjoy the rich forest vegetation which kept its original form – a real rarity today. At the Lake area the forest comes down to the lake shore where we find numerous endemic species. In the Small Lake a species of prehistorical jellyfish found its home.
Jacques Cousteau was thrilled with the submarine world of Mljet!
The world famous oceanographer and researcher, Jacques Cousteau, claimed that the submarine area of Mljet was one of the most beautiful world sites.
On the island of Mljet the first national park on the Adriatic!
Mljet National Park is the first national park on the Adriatic. It was founded in 1960. The Park area includes the west part of the island, several villages, two salt-water lakes (Great/Veliko and Small/Malo Lake) and the Benedictine monastery on St Mary’s island (Great Lake). The east part of the island stands out as a reservation of natural rarities.
Mljet – the most beautiful and the most wooded island of the Adriatic!
Time magazine put Mljet on the list of ten most beautiful islands in the world. Mljet is also the most wooded island in the Adriatic with over 70% of the area covered by forest! It is also the most beautiful Aleppo pine forest on the Mediterranean.
Mljet – the island of eternal spring and a refuge for orchids!
Mljet has mild Mediterranean climate throughout the year so it is often called the island of eternal spring. There are over 25 different species of orchids growing on the island.
Maltese dog from Mljet!
Most kennel clubs admit that Maltese dogs really originate from the island of Mljet. They invoke Callimachus and Pliny who interpret the origin of this specie in their documents.
About the island:
Mljet is the island where Nature’s grace created everything far better than any man ever could. Separated and untouched, it became an island of secrets, legends and peculiar natural phenomena, an island ideal for exploration and idle relaxation while enjoying the beauty of its nature. Mljet is the eighth in size Croatian island. It is not far from the Pelješac peninsula, the island of Korčula and Dubrovnik. It has a population of about 1000, and there are no bigger settlements.
Early mentions of Mljet date as early as the 4th century BC, and can be found in certain Greek documents. Numerous archaeological findings of Greek amphorae and sank ships testify that Greek sailors stayed on shores of Mljet. Natural and cultural riches of the island are protected by law since 1960, so the bigger part of the island was proclaimed a National Park, thus becoming the first national park on the Adriatic.