Our Lady of Tarca on Kornati: A Special Speedboat Tour with Zadar Archipelago
The first Sunday of July marks a festive celebration on the Kornati Islands, specifically in the bay of Tarac, during the holiday of Our Lady of Tarca. This event involves a pilgrimage by boats to the Tarac bay on the Kornati Islands, part of the Kornati National Park, where the charming church dedicated to Our Lady of Tarca is situated.
You too can be a part of this celebration, thanks to Zadar Archipelago speedboat tours. These expert tour guides, with the help of their local know-how, can create a unique experience that blends culture with natural beauty.
Nature and Culture in the Kornati Islands
The Kornati Islands boast a unique blend of nature and human presence, evident in the always modest yet impressive structures such as gates, houses, dry-stone walls, olive orchards, small ports, forts, castles, churches, saltpans, and ancient settlements.
The islands have been a meeting point of nature and human civilization for thousands of years, presenting challenges and opportunities for various cultures throughout history.
The rich history of the Kornati Islands is evident in the cultural buildings from the Middle Ages, such as the Church of Our Lady of Tarca, constructed in the 17th century.
Archaeological findings reveal the early utilization of the Kornati area, with traces of Neolithic tools and numerous Liburnian mounds and tumuli. The Roman colonization period left its mark with fishponds, ports, and likely salt pans. During the Middle Ages, the islands featured aristocratic residences, and today, the remains of a salt pan in Lavsa with underwater casemates and a storage wall on land are still
The Church of Our Lady of Tarca
The quaint church of Our Lady of Tarca, dating back to the 17th century, stands on the main ship of an early Christian basilica from the 6th century. It is believed that the church was constructed partially using the remains of the older basilica.
The church is dedicated to the Visitation of Mary and it served as a refuge for sailors waiting for favourable weather conditions before continuing their voyages in the Kornati archipelago.
Near the church (in today’s sheepfold), traces of the foundations of a former building are found, sparking debates about whether it was a Templar monastery or a Benedictine monastery. Interestingly, Kornat was called names like “Insulae Sanctae Mariae” or “Stomorin otok” throughout the Middle Ages, directly associated with this church (the Church of Saint Mary).
Song to Our Lady of Tarca
As per tradition, every first Sunday in July, Our Lady of Tarca is celebrated on the Kornati Islands, colloquially known as the feast of Our Lady of Petrovčić. Hundreds of boats of various sizes and purposes anchor in the bay in front of the Tarac fields to be symbolically touched by the blessed water.
Day and night, the sea celebrates you,
the wind sings hymns to you.
Crowns, the islands love you,
Kornati, the sun, and the waves mourn for you:
Hail, O star of the sea,
we all come to you,
to lead our ship
through the restless sea.
You watch, Mother, the stormy sea
that tosses our ship.
Calm it today, Mother, as before,
always protect us, O Lady of Tarca.
O Lady, protect the ancient olive trees
and the toiled fields.
Nets and boats, fishermen, harbours,
may they warm your motherly hands.
Gathering of the Faithful
Every year, around thirty priests and monks from the Šibenik Diocese, led by local bishops, congregate in Tarac. They embark on a boat named “St. Jakov” towards the Kornati Islands, specifically the Tarac bay, home to the 17th-century church dedicated to Our Lady of the Visitation.
Traditionally, the first Sunday in July celebrates Our Lady of Tarca on Kornati Island, commonly known as the feast of Our Lady of Petrovčić.
Originally, the feast was agricultural, blessing only the fields, with Tarc being the most fertile. Over time, the focus shifted to the sea and boats as the locals turned to fishing. Today, the feast has become a grand event, with a procession of boats making it one of the most beautiful religious celebrations in Croatia.
Our Lady of Tarca and Zadar Archipelago speedboat tours
The annual feast of Our Lady of Tarca, with its roots dating back to the Middle Ages, serves as a reminder of the enduring connection between the people of the Kornati archipelago and the sacred land and sea that cradle their existence.
The blend of tradition, spirituality, and the breathtaking landscapes of the Kornati Islands offers a timeless experience, with their dry stone walls, ancient olive groves, and secluded ports. They serve as a canvas where nature and human history converge.