Formally the newest town on the island of Korčula, Vela Luka has been functioning as an organized and independent community for the last two hundred years. However, from the evidence it is clear that people lived here even in the prehistoric period. Many findings, discovered on the archaeological sites in this area as silent witnesses to the ancient life that existed here, are as much as twenty thousand years old.
The most famous and, for many reasons, the most significant locality called Vela spila is only 130 meters above Vela Luka and is well-known for its beauty and objects dating from the early prehistoric period.
Vela Luka is home to many talented musicians and artists, hardworking and many-sided people, as well as the place of tradition. The Cultural Centre is located in the town centre, next to the parish church of St. Joseph, and it consists of a museum, a gallery and a library, and the wealth and diversity of Vela Luka’s history, art and cultural heritage is shown through several valuable museum collections; the archaeological collection, the gifted international collection of drawings, graphics and small sculptures and the collection of ship models carved in wood.
The gifted international collection was the result of many donations from domestic and foreign artists after Vela Luka got hit by a tidal wave in the summer of 1978.
Two sculptures by Henry Moore dominate the collection, which are also the only two works of that respectable artist in the Croatian territory.
The wooden model ships, forty one of them, were made by the late Nedjeljko Gigić Kotarc, a self-educated carver from Vela Luka who was carving them in olive wood for decades and left them as a legacy to future generations and his town.
In the atrium of the Cultural Centre, and on several locations in the town centre you can see different parts of a mosaic of abstract and figural compositions made in 1968 when the first international gathering of artists took place in Vela Luka.
Today, Vela Luka is home to many artists, painters and sculptors, poetry and poets. About thirty artists-amateurs work and live here and "the most beautiful cove in the whole world " or “najlipša vala na svitu”, how they call Vela Luka, is where many famous artists were born, e.g. Izvor Oreb, a sculptor, a painter and a poet, Danijel Dragojević, a poet, late academic Šime Vučetić, Ante Marinović, a sculptor, Gorki Žuvela, a conceptual artist and well-known singers Oliver Dragojević and Jasna Zlokić.
The autochthonous Dalmatian song still lives and maybe represents the spirit of the people of Vela Luka better than anything else when performed by several local choirs such as Vela Luka, Ošjak, Leut and others, but it is even nicer when few of the oldest inhabitants of Vela Luka meet spontaneously on a street corner or in a park and one of them starts a song from the depth of his soul “just like in the old days”, and the others sing along bringing pleasure to everyone.
A folk group called "Kumpanija" has been nurturing various traditional dances of Vela Luka for decades, such as: «Mafrina», «Četiri pasa», «Tanac», «Pritilica», «Šega-šega» and especially a very attractive dance with swords – «Ples od boja», known as «Kumpanija».
«Kumpanija» is an ancient knight game which originated from the organized peoples’ army, which has been defending the island from different conquerors and invaders for centuries. «Kumpanija» is quite extraordinary and is performed only on the island of Korčula during religious and state holidays. The main performance takes place every year on March 19, St. Joseph’s day, who is the patron saint of Vela Luka