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Turanj, Croatia

Galešnjak Island

This heart-shaped island looks substantially less lovely after a recent bulldozing project. 

Also known as “Lover’s Island”, Galešnjak Island lies a third of a mile off the coast of Turanj, Croatia. At just 164 feet wide at its widest point, this heart-shaped isle serves as a hotspot for Valentine’s Day boat rides and spectacular aerial views. That is, until recently, when it instead served as a reminder of the pitfalls of love to the broken-hearted.

Galešnjak Island is likely the largest and most accurately defined heart-shaped island in the world, and perhaps also the most famous, after going viral on social media in February of 2009.

Originally spotted by a 19th century cartographer working for Napoleon, Galešnjak Island is home to three ancient Illyrian burial mounds, but today has a population of zero. It is currently owned by Tonci Juresko, who recently made the controversial decision of deforesting two large patches of the island. To those who had always wanted to visit the island, this was, of course, heartbreaking — literally.

But all along, Juresko had a plan in mind to make the island even more romantic. Once he heard of Angelina Jolie’s consideration of making a $16.1 million purchase of a New York heart-shaped island for Brad Pitt’s birthday, Juresko realized that tourism to Galešnjak Island could be quite profitable. So, he cut down the natural foliage to replant 250 trees and build a chapel to host weddings. Juresko also plans to rebuild the pier his grandfather built on the island 80 years ago. Says Juresko, “I will plant olive trees, and the island will be more beautiful than before.”

Perhaps in both love and in heart-shaped islands, we have to endure heartbreak for a time in hopes of reaching a bright, beautiful future.