Due to its extremely important position in the center of the main sea routes, history has left many traces on Hvar, perhaps more than on any other Adriatic island.
The first evidence of life in this area dates back to prehistoric times when the discovery of painted pottery in the Marko and Grapceva caves defined a separate Hvar culture. Interestingly, the oldest depiction of a ship in Europe was found on fragments of a vessel from Grapceva Cave.
Today, Hvar is often called "Croatian St. Tropez", and is one of the most popular Croatian islands. The town of Hvar has become a major destination for entertainment for tourists from all over the world. The Island of Hvar has 2718 hours of sunshine a year, which makes it the sunniest Croatian island.
Check out top 10 sights that you should not miss on the Island of Hvar:
1. St. Stephen Square - the central square of the town of Hvar is also known as Pjaca and is the largest square in all of Dalmatia. Originally a deep bay, and later the area between two fortified towns, Groda in the north and Burga in the south, it was filled up over the centuries until it took on today's dimensions. The Square was already formed by the 15th century, with the cathedral to the east and the sea to the west. In the beginning, it was wider than today, but due to the lack of space within the fortified city, houses were built in the northern part of the Square, in front of the city walls. In the center of the Square is a communal well from 1520.
2. Cathedral of St. Stephen I - Cathedral of St. Stephen I, Pope and Martyr was built on the site of the Benedictine monastery of St. Mary of Lesna. It became a cathedral in the 13th century when the center of the diocese was moved from Stari Grad to the town of Hvar. The new cathedral was built from the 16th-18th century. It is a three-nave building of the basilica type with a square sanctuary and a Renaissance choir. The western façade is a late Renaissance three-leafed façade, which symbolizes the Holy Trinity. A beautiful bell tower was erected on the north side in 1550.
3. Fortress Fortica - this beautiful massive fortress is located on a hill above the town of Hvar, dates from the 16th century and offers a beautiful panoramic view of the entire island of Hvar and the Paklinski Islands, which you will enjoy. Not only is it one of the most popular places to visit but the journey itself is a truly unforgettable experience. Head north from the town square through the historic Porta di Datallo. Go through and then you will see a path paved with stairs that, surrounded by fragrant Mediterranean herbs, lead you all the way to the top of the fortress, the locally famous Spain.
4. Hvar Theater - the theater in the town of Hvar was founded in 1612 and is one of the first municipal theaters in Europe. It was built on the old Arsenal - a space for repairing galleys and storing various nautical tools. The exterior of the theater has been largely preserved in its original form, while the beautiful interior dates back to the 19th century.
5. Town Loggia - The first Town Loggia in Hvar is mentioned as early as 1289. Construction of the new Loggia began in the 15th and was completed in the 16th century. The Loggia burned down during the Turkish invasion in 1571, but was later repaired and restored. The final appearance of the façade was done at the beginning of the 17th century. During the Venetian rule, it served as a public courtroom. Public auctions for the lease of taxes and customs were held in the Loggia.
6. Franciscan Monastery and Church of St. Mary of Mercy - Church of St. Mary was built in the 15th century as a single-nave Gothic building, on the site of the older chapel of the Holy Cross. With its simple, solid, slightly bare stone look, it takes visitors back to the past and takes your breath away. In the monastery, there is a valuable library and museum art collection.
7. Tvrdalj of Petar Hektorovic - Tvrdalj in the Old Town is the summer residence of the poet Petar Hektorovic from the 16th century. The building is a fascinating combination of intimate residence and a fortress, wrapped in a beautiful Renaissance building. The space was to serve as a peaceful place for all beings. Tvrdalj used to be the summer residence of the poet Petar Hektorovic, who would stay in his palace in the warmer months and enjoy the cold breeze from the sea. As an artist, he found inspiration around Stari Grad, and his poetry about fishermen and the local area made him legendary.
8. Skor Square - of the many small squares in Stari Grad, the most picturesque is definitely the main stone square Skor. Almost like a theatrical backdrop (which it actually becomes during many summer cultural events), this square was created during the 17th and 18th centuries. The space once served as a shipyard, which is how this square got its name (skor comes from the word skver, which in the Dalmatian dialect means shipyard). Mythical Dalmatia lives here: the curved space is enclosed by workers' houses with 'luminari' (roof windows), 'sulari' (terraces) and film-like traditional stairs 'skalinada'.
9. St. John Square - St. John Square in Jelsa is one of the most beautiful squares from the Renaissance-Baroque period, with a small octagonal church that was built in the late 17th century. The church was built in three different styles: Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque, which gives it a special charm and makes it a beautiful sight. The Square and the surrounding streets were designed from the 15th to the 18th century, and from an architectural point of view, along with houses built between the 17th and 20th centuries, they represent the best-preserved part of Jelsa and the island of Hvar.
10. Church and Fortress of St. Mary of Mercy - this amazing building in Vrboska is a historical fortress that is also a church. The Church of St. Mary of Mercy is not the only historical church on the island of Hvar, but it is definitely one of the most impressive. What makes it so special is that it is a real fortress. In addition, the Church of St. Mary of Mercy is very unique in its design, which is a real rarity among European fortress churches.
In addition to the rich cultural and historical heritage, the island of Hvar abounds in beautiful beaches and coves. Read the guide to the Top 10 Beaches on the Island of Hvar.