The Dark Side of Lokrum – Curses, Mystery and Premature Death

Lauren Simmonds

Lokrum is beautiful, but it has an extremely dark side that not many will readily be open to you about…

The Lokrum Curse is one of the greatest mysteries in the world. This story is relatively unknown in comparison with the curse of Tutankamon’s tomb, but historically, it is much, much stronger.

This incredible and alarming saga begins back in 1023 when a huge fire broke out on the Day of St. Benedict and tragically burned most of the wooden houses in Dubrovnik down. The Dubrovnik people then founded the Abbey of St. Mary on the island of Lokrum – for the salvation of the city. The Benedictines took up ”command”, as they were then the most powerful order in the Catholic Church.

Before long, the Benedictines built a monastery in which they selflessly cared for the old, the poor, the sick and the helpless. Lokrum was the much appreciated refuge for a shipwrecked English king, King Richard the Lionheart, who became disorientated during an Adriatic storm upon his return to England from fighting in The Crusades.

All remained more than well, even plentiful during the time that Dubrovnik locals still had gold, but what goes up must come down, and eventually people found themselves entering into tough times. At the end of the 18th century, revenues were tedious and expenditures remained the same. In an attempt to maintain the peace, the people of Dubrovnik were paying tributes to Turkey (then the seat of the Ottoman Empire) in the amount of 12.5 thousand ducats per year – worth 43kg of gold. Napoleon was also an enormous worry and Dubrovnik feared war.

In desparation, it was decided that it was best to sell Lokrum and one of the conditions was that the Benedictines must leave everything they own. The despised French occupiers were the overseers. And then it all began…

Dressed in black, the Benedictines went out into the blackness of the still night. The solumn group, with their lit candles, turned them upside down. Three times they walked the length of the island, with hot candle wax dripping along the path they took.

With a prayer, they sent out their dark message into the calm night and into endless unknowns of the universe: “Let everybody who tries to take Lokrum for personal gain be damned.”

After 800 years, the Benedictines left the island, never to return. It was August the 7th, 1798.

Five years later, the Dubrovnik government sold the island privately. Gučetić, Sorkočević and Pucić, the Dubrovnik councillors, estimated the value of Lokrum to be approximately 32,000 ducats. The government managed to sell it for 60,000 ducats. A mistake. The Benedictine curse was literally awoken from its sleep.

Sorkočević jumped out of the window from the third floor of his palace in an apparent suicide, Gučetić fell into the sea near Lokrum, and Pucić quietly hung himself in the attic of his house.

The next owner of the island, the wealthy Dubrovnik captain, Tomasevic, was more than completely impoverished. The island had to be sold.

The beautiful, green, but cursed island was first purchased by Dr. Jakopovic from Budapest, to whom Franjo Josip I. entrusted the management of some of his affairs. The island was inherited by his nephew and as soon as he went on a boat to Lokrum, the wind blew it over and of course, he met a premature death by drowning.

Following this series of entirely inexplicable deaths, the island was bought by the brother of Emperor Franjo Josip I, Archbishop Maximilian, for personal reasons. The cursed island of Lokrum – Peace, idyll, paradise. But the happy days were to be short lived.

The first announcement of some sort of superior evil energy occurred in Trsteno, in today’s Arboretum. On the trunk of a large oak tree, Maximilian carved a love heart and he and his wife’s (Charlotte) initials. Immediately after a warm, still summer afternoon, a fierce storm struck from nowhere. The oak was destroyed, the heart remained, but the initials disappeared.

Maximillian met an unenviable end in Mexico, and Charlotte was left to struggle in the endless windmill of time. Returning to Lokrum, she felt that something was terribly wrong and left, eventually committing suicide in Trieste.

The next victim was King Otto Fridrih Vilhelm (Ludwig II.). After a summer break on Lokrum, he learned that the Bavarian ministerial council had declared him clinically insane and removed him from the throne. They found him dead not long after in the lake near his estate.

Following his father’s bizarre death, Rudolf, his son, became the unfortunate new owner of Lokrum.

Many deaths followed, none of them were normal, none were natural and all of them were completely unexpected and without a trace of explanation. Suicides from people who were perfectly okay, and insanity in those who had no issues previously. The curse was taking the lives of all of those who tried to claim Lokrum as their own.

The last owner of Lokrum was the Habsburg knight Windisch Grätz. In 1919, Lokrum was sold to the Government of Yugoslavia for RSD 11 million. But the curse did not stop. A whole family simply disappeared on Lokrum in the 1930s.

While Lokrum may be beautiful to visit, please don’t ever try to buy it unless you have a death wish.


Excerpts taken and translated from Dubrovacki Dnevnik.



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