A neolithic cave (Vela Spila) located near Vela Luka, on the island’s western end, points to the existence of a prehistoric settlement, but it was the Greeks who first began spreading over the island sometime around the 6th century BC. Their most important settlement was founded in the area of today’s Lumbarda around the 3rd century BC.
Rome conquered Korčula in the 1st century, giving way to the Byzantines in the 6th and Slavs in the 7th century. After the turn of the first millennium, the island passed through the hands of various medieval states before falling to the Venetians in 1420, who remained until 1797. Under Venetian control the island became known for its stone, which was quarried and cut for export. Shipbuilding also flourished.
After the Napoleonic conquest of Venice in 1797, Korčula’s fortunes followed those of the region, changing hands among the French, British, Austro-Hungarians and Italians before becoming a part of the first Yugoslavia in 1921. Today Korčula is one of Croatia’s most prosperous islands, its historic capital drawing visitors in increasing numbers.