For years I have been trying to find some time to stop at this place and enjoy the gardens. Arboretum Trsteno is located some 30 km north of Dubrovnik and it is the best known arboretum in Croatia. This is a place of incredible beauty but not as nearly as popular as the rest of the area. There are group tours from Dubrovnik to Trsteno but this arboretum is best explored and enjoyed on your own when you have all the time to soak in the atmosphere of authentic Dubrovnik Renaissance garden!
Few lines on the history of this place can be found on the internet. Basically, it was erected by the local noble family Gučetić/Gozze in the late 15th century, who requested ship captains to bring back seeds and plants from their travels. The exact start date for the arboretum is unknown, but it was already in existence by 1492, when a 15 m span aqueduct to irrigate the arboretum was constructed; this aqueduct is still in use and it is marvelous! The Arboretum reserves a very special place among the old Ragusan, Dalmatian and Mediterranean parks due to its five century long continuous development from Gothic Renaissance, Renaissance Baroque and Romantic forms to the present. In 1494 Ivan Marinov Gucetic ordered stony parts, ornaments and stony house furniture and more than 50 stony cogs at stone-cutters Bartula and Fran Karlic from Korcula. There is a stony slab from 1502 with dimensions 160 x 25 cm which is walled in the transversal stone from the eastern side of the castle, it is written in Latin and it gives an evidence of this park and its good arrangement in the distant 1502.
It has about 25.5 hectares, the eastern part is occupied by gothic-renaissance park, and the middle part by a nursery – garden and olive plantations, in the south it is the new park Drvarica where there are untouched quarries, the western part is overgrown with forest of Pinus halepensis and with Cupressus sempervirens and Quercus pubescens.
At the beginning of 1948 it was protected as a natural rarity, and in 1962 as a monument of garden architecture and a collection of decorative trees and bushes.
The park is best enjoyed on your own when you have the time to explore all the paths and monuments and to see the ancient mill and the small harbor bellow the arboretum. The tranquility of arboretum is unbelievable! We visited in late March and there was no one in the park. They did not even charge us 30 Kn for entering. So it looks like out of the season would be the best time to visit the arboretum and enjoy it before the crowds.
The sad part of the arboretum history happened during the war for independence when Trsteno suffered extensive damage and looting and, on October 2 and 3rd, 1991, the Yugoslav People’s Army launched a series of gunboat and air attacks and set the Arboretum afire, destroying a large part of it, and causing partial damage to the summer residence and the oldest part of the arboretum. The arboretum was again severely damaged in 2000. by a forest fire during a drought, when around 120,000 square meters were lost in fire.
The pride of the arboretum, two Oriental Planes located on the central market place of Trsteno, survived both disasters undamaged. They are over 500 years old and are unique specimens of its kind in Europe. The ancient trees are both about 45/60 m tall and their trunks are 5 m in diameter.
Trsteno is a true gem and I am planning on stopping for at least half hour every time I am in the area!
We can offer private guided tours to Trsteno as well through our www.tours-in-croatia.com