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Isle of hope and serenity

Franciscan monastery, Košljun

"The isle of Košljun in Punat Bay bears witness to another aspect of the Franciscan legacy that connected to the support of the Church. The Counts of Krk took the lead in this from their beginnings. As owners of the island, in 1447, they were given permission from Pope Nicholas V to settle the Franciscans of Krk in the abandoned Benedictine monastery on Košljun."

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The isle of Košljun was populated as early as Antiquity and at the period a fortified summer residence was located on it. From that it still bears the name today – Latin castellum, Košljun. Since the 9th century the Glagolitic Benedictine Abbey of St Mary has operated here, and the foundations of a Benedictine three-nave Romanesque church were found under today’s monastery church. With the arrival of the Franciscans and the donation of Ivan VII of Frankopan and his daughter Maria Katarina, the Benedictine church was enlarged and dedicated to the Annunciation of Mary. The current monastery complex consists of a monastic church, the monastery building and cloister, a mediaeval fortification and the Chapel of St Bernardine, the monastery cemetery, a park, gardens, a votive chapel and the isle’s jetty. 15th century Gothic and especially 16th century Renaissance styles predominate the monastery’s architecture. Besides the church visitors can visit the interesting museum collection of rare books and incunabulas, the ethnographic collection, animal exhibits, models of boats and the botanical garden with more than 400 species of plants. The grave of Maria Katarina in the Košljun church bears witness to the centuries-old links of the Košljun Franciscans and the Krk nobles. By testament for the purpose of the expansion of Košljun's church she left the monks 1,000 ducats and stated “I surrender my body to the earth from where it came”. Twice a Venetian bride Venice did not want to comply with her for nine years, so she was only buried on Košljun in 1524. Next to Katarina’s grave is another tombstone with no name, although it has a depiction of St John the Baptist, the patron of Katarina’s father. Perhaps it is really Ivan VII, the last of the Frankopans who presided and ruled on Krk, does he secretly lie buried on Košljun alongside his daughter?