HVAR

Croatia

Hvar is a Croatian island in the Adriatic Sea, located off the Dalmatian coast, lying between the islands of Brač, Visand Korčula. Approximately 68 km (42.25 mi) long, with a high east-west ridge of Mesozoic limestone and dolomite,

Info Hvar

introduction

Hvar is a Croatian island in the Adriatic Sea, located off the Dalmatian coast, lying between the islands of Brač, Visand Korčula. Approximately 68 km (42.25 mi) long, with a high east-west ridge of Mesozoic limestone and dolomite, the island of Hvar is unusual in the area for having a large fertile coastal plain, and fresh water springs. Its hillsides are covered in pine forests, with vineyards, olive groves, fruit orchards and lavender fields in the agricultural areas. The climate is characterized by mild winters, and warm summers with many hours of sunshine. The island has 11,103 residents, making it the 4th most populated of the Croatian islands.

Hvar’s location at the center of the Adriatic sailing routes has long made this island an important base for commanding trade up and down the Adriatic, across to Italy and throughout the wider Mediterranean. It has been inhabited since pre-historic times, originally by a Neolithic people whose distinctive pottery gave rise to the term Hvar culture, and later by the Illyrians. The ancient Greeks founded the colony of Pharos in 384 BC on the site of today’s Stari Grad, making it one of the oldest towns in Europe. They were also responsible for setting out the agricultural field divisions of the Stari Grad Plain, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In medieval times, Hvar (city) rose to importance within the Venetian Empireas a major naval base. Prosperity brought culture and the arts, with one of the first public theatres in Europe, nobles’ palaces and many fine communal buildings.

The 16th century was an unsettled time, with the Hvar Rebellion, coastal raids by pirates and the Ottoman army from the mainland, resulting in some unusual fortified buildings on the northern shore to protect the local population. After a brief time under Napoleonic rule, the island became part of the Austrian Empire, a more peaceful and prosperous time. On the coast, harbours were expanded, quays built, fishing and boat building businesses grew. At the same time, the island’s wine exports increased, along with lavender and rosemary production for the French perfume industry. Unfortunately, this prosperity did not continue into the 20th century as wooden sailing boats went out of fashion, and the phylloxera blight hit wine production. Many islanders left to make a new life elsewhere.

One industry, however, has continued to grow and is now a significant contributor to the island’s economy. The formation of The Hygienic Association of Hvar in 1868 for the assistance of visitors to the island has been instrumental in developing an infrastructure of hotels, apartments, restaurants, marinas, museums, galleries and cafes.  Today, the island of Hvar is a popular destination for tourists, consistently listed in the top 10 islands by Conde Nast Traveler magazine.

Tourism

Hvar is an island off the coast of Croatia.

Gently rolling hills painted a brilliant purple by the fertile flowers, lush vineyards nestling at the foot of ragged mountains, gorgeous beaches with tiny inlets and secluded coves, luscious restaurants, boutiques, and a vibrant nightlife amidst the medieval streets of Hvar Town are just a few of the treats to enjoy on this dream of an island.

Imposing fortifications hover above the fluid blend of grey stone and orange cascading roofs. The remains of walls built by a long list of invaders descend towards the wide promenade edging the brilliant blue sea and the quaint fishing harbor. Marble streets reveal one of the largest squares in Dalmatia, Trg Sveti Stjepana as well as the prized Cathedral of St. Stjepan and the Renaissance theatre.

Hvar Town may be the most stunning town on the island but Stari Grad, the oldest city in Croatia, and Jelsa, as well as a smattering of small villages, dotting the coast or nestled in the lush interior are well worth a visit.

Island Hvar and especially  Hvar town is one of the most popular destinations in the Adriatic. During the season (May to September) it can be very busy, especially during August when large numbers of Italians visit. Hvar was relatively cheap, without an extensive tourist infrastructure, and it attracted a lot of young people. However, this is changing as large five star hotels are being built and the standard of living in Croatia is rising.

A historical town of  Stari Grad located at the island's north coast is a UNESCO world heritage site.

History

The first inhabitants of Hvar Island were Neolithic people who probably established trade links between Hvar and the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. The Hvar Culture lasted from 3500 to 2500 BC.

Beginning in the 4th century BC, the Greeks colonized the island. In 384 BC the Greek colonisers of Pharos defeated Iadasinoi warriors and their allies, invited by the Hvar indigenes in their resistance to the Greek colonization. Their victory over much larger forces was immortalized in one of the oldest known inscriptions of Croatia.

Following Roman victory in the Second Illyrian War against Demetrius of Pharos, the island became a part of the Roman Empire in 219 BC and the Greek name Pharos was changed to Pharia.

After the fall of the Roman Empire in the west, the island was under the control of the Byzantine or Eastern Roman Empire. The population increased in the Late Antiquity with an abundance of archeological finds. A large number of new villa rustica in Stari Grad Plain and also on the previously vacant eastern shores was built.

In the early Middle Ages, Slavic tribes occupied the island. In the first half of the 7th century the Narentines took over the island. Venetian sailors saw the island while sailing towards the south and were threatened by the Narentine pirates from the island. In the 11th century the island joined the Kingdom of Croatia.

In the 12th century the rise of the Republic of Venice brought vines and wine cultivation which blossomed into a major industry for the island in the Middle Ages. The island eventually again fell under Byzantine rule, and then under Kingdom of Croatia and Hungary. In 1331 the Venetians put the island under protection from threats of piracy. According to the 1358 Treaty of Zadar, the island was handed over to the Kingdom of Hungary. For short time in the summer of 1390 it was held by the Bosnian king Stephen Tvrtko I. In 1409, the Republic of Venice finally again became its long-term owner.

In the 16th century, an uprising occurred between the plebeians and aristocracy, the most serious of the uprising occurred between 1510 and 1514 with the Venetians ruthlessly crushing the locals and sending twenty of their leaders to the hangman.  The island became prosperous from fishing, the cultivation of rosemary, lavender and olives.

Hvar is important to the history of Croatia as it was one of the centers of Croatian literature during the Renaissance, with writers such as Petar Hektorović and Hanibal Lucić. In Stari Grad, tourists can see the Petar Hektorović fortress/villa called Tvrdalj Castle, architectonically designed by the poet himself.

Churches on the island contain many important paintings and artworks by famous Venetian artists, including Tintoretto, Veronese, Bellini and others.

In 1797 Hvar was annexed with the fall of the Venetian Republic by the Habsburg Monarchy as per the Treaty of Campo Formio. But forces of the French Empire seized it in 1806 during the Napoleonic wars before finally being taken by British marines and sailors in 1812.

During the Croatian national renaissance, in the age of national awakening in Europe, many leading figures in southern Croatia, and in Croatia as a whole, came from Hvar.

The Austrians regained control of the island in accordance to the 1815 Treaty of Vienna and into the beginning of the 20th century brought a period of relative prosperity. The Italian army occupied the island from 1918 until 1921, when Hvar with the rest of Croatia joined the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. In 1939, an autonomous Croatian Banate was formed that included it. During WWII, it was under control of Independent State of Croatia, but under military occupation of Fascist Italy until 1943. After 1945, it became a part of People's Republic of Croatia, a constituent republic of Communist Yugoslavia.

Ivan Vučetić, the man who perfected dactyloscopy at the turn of the 20th century, came from Hvar island.

In 1992 the Republic of Croatia was recognized as an Independent state in which Hvar obtained a position in its territorial reorganization.

In today's Croatia, Hvar's most famous citizen is football player Igor Tudor(Juventus), while most famous Croatian deputy in Sabor (awarded as the "Deputy of the year") is from the island of Hvar, Tonči Tadić.

Climate

The climate of Hvar is characterized by mild winters and warm summers. The yearly average air temperature is 16 °C (61 °F), 703 mm (27.7 in) of precipitation fall on the town of Hvar on average every year and the town has a total of 2800 sunshine hours per year. For comparison Hvar has an average of 7.7 sunshine hours per day while Dubrovnik has 7.2. The sea temperatures average from the lowest readings in February of 14 °C (57 °F) to their warmest during summer, when the sea temperatures usually stay between 23 °C (73 °F) to 27 °C (81 °F). The Köppen Climate Classification subtype for this climate is "Csa" (Mediterranean Climate).

Climate data for Hvar

MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Record high °C (°F)19.6
(67.3)
23.4
(74.1)
24.0
(75.2)
27.8
(82)
33.0
(91.4)
37.0
(98.6)
37.5
(99.5)
37.7
(99.9)
34.4
(93.9)
31.5
(88.7)
25.7
(78.3)
20.6
(69.1)
37.7
(99.9)
Average high °C (°F)12.6
(54.7)
13.0
(55.4)
14.9
(58.8)
17.7
(63.9)
22.3
(72.1)
26.4
(79.5)
29.5
(85.1)
29.5
(85.1)
26.0
(78.8)
21.8
(71.2)
16.8
(62.2)
13.7
(56.7)
20.3
(68.5)
Daily mean °C (°F)9.1
(48.4)
9.2
(48.6)
11.1
(52)
14.0
(57.2)
18.5
(65.3)
22.3
(72.1)
25.0
(77)
24.8
(76.6)
21.5
(70.7)
17.7
(63.9)
13.3
(55.9)
10.3
(50.5)
16.4
(61.5)
Average low °C (°F)5.9
(42.6)
5.9
(42.6)
7.7
(45.9)
10.5
(50.9)
14.7
(58.5)
18.3
(64.9)
20.9
(69.6)
20.8
(69.4)
17.7
(63.9)
14.3
(57.7)
10.1
(50.2)
7.2
(45)
12.8
(55)
Record low °C (°F)−7
(19)
−5.5
(22.1)
−4.6
(23.7)
0.0
(32)
5.1
(41.2)
10.0
(50)
12.8
(55)
9.7
(49.5)
8.0
(46.4)
4.9
(40.8)
−3
(27)
−5
(23)
−7
(19)
              
Source: Croatian Meteorological and Hydrological Service

Geography

The island of Hvar is located in the Adriatic Sea, off the Dalmatian coast. To the north, the island of Brač lies across the Hvar Channel (Hvarski kanal), to the west is Vis, separated by the Vis Channel, and to the south Korčula lies across the Korčula Channel, while the PelješacPeninsula is across the Neretva Channel. The eastern end of Hvar is just 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) from the mainland. Along the southern coast of the island there are several smaller islands, notably the Paklinski islands at the western end and Šćedro island, while Zečevo island lies off the north coast.

Economy

Residents of Hvar mostly work in the fishing and tourism industries. Hvar has a very mild Mediterranean climate, beautiful beaches and Mediterranean vegetation that make it one of the most attractive tourist centers in Europe. The island promotes itself as "the sunniest spot in Europe", with over 2715 hours of sunlight in an average year.

Hvar town is the main tourist center. It features a large public square (St Stephen's Square/trg Sv. Stjepana) that is open to the sea. During the tourist season, the port is filled with large yachts. All-night discos attract large crowds of young visitors, including Veneranda, one of Europe's leading open-air party venues.

Another major economic activity is the cultivation of lavender, used for aromatic oils and soaps. Hvar is often called the "island of lavender".

Hvar is also one of the two most famous winemaking zones in Croatia. Vineyardson the southern side of the island are famous for red wines produced from the Plavac Mali grape. The central plain between Stari Grad and Jelsa is famous for its white wines.

Subdivisions

Hvar Island is part of Split-Dalmatia County in Dalmatia, Croatia. The island has four municipalities (općina), namely Hvar (city) (pop 4138), Stari Grad (pop 2,817), Jelsa (pop 3,656) and Sućuraj (pop 492). Population figures from 2001.

  • Hvar (city) is the largest town on the island (pop 3,672), for many years an independent commune and major naval base of the Venetian Empire. Hvar municipality includes the settlements of Brusje (206), Velo Grablje (21), Milna (90) and Sveta Nedilja (148).
  • Jelsa is a market town in the northern part of the island (pop 1,798). Jelsa municipality includes the settlements of Gdinj (119), Gromin Dolac (4), Ivan Dolac (26), Svirče (445), Pitve (81), Poljica (68), Vrboska (526), Vrisnik (215), Zastražišće (230), Zavala (144). The island of Hvar is well connected to the mainland and other destinations throughout Croatia as European Coastal Airlines offers multiple daily connections by seaplane from Jelsa to Split and Split Airport.
  • Stari Grad, also on the north part of the island (pop 1,906), is the site of one of the first permanent settlements on the Adriatic islands during Antiquity. Today, Stari Grad is the main seaport on the island; most visitors arrive here via car ferries from Split. Stari Grad municipality includes the settlements of Dol (348), Rudina (54), Selca (20) and Vrbanj (489).
  • Sućuraj is a small town on the eastern end of the island, nearest to the mainland, where a regular car ferry service connects the island with the town of Drvenik. Sućuraj municipality includes the mainly agricultural communities in the eastern part of the island.

Transportation - Get In

  • By either car ferry (approx. 2h), arriving near Stari Grad or fast ferry (a hydrofoil) (approx 1h) to Hvar City from Split, services operated by Jadrolinija. Buses operate to bring people to and from the ferry through the island (12 kn to Starigrad, 25 kn to Hvar City (April 2009)). Note that as buses fill, late-coming passengers are often required to stand in the aisles during the entire bus journey.
  • Jadrolinija also brings you from Hvar town to Vela Luka (Korčula) and to the island Lastovo, and from Sućuraj in the east of Hvar to Drvenik (mainland).
  • Blueline operates fast ferries from Hvar town to Split. The car ferries run most regularly (approximately three per day and more during the high season (May to September) and call at Stari Grad. The fast ferries run less frequently but also operate to and from Hvar town. There are also ferries to other destinations, most notably Italy.
  • Dalmatia-express is providing 24h taxi boat service to the island, either from the city of Split or from the airport and vice versa. Service is available also in heavy seas and during rain.  ++385 (0)99 20 099 20

Transportation - Get Around

Buses meet the car ferries at Stari Grad and run to various destinations such as Hvar town. Don't take taxis from the ferry port, they're a rip-off.

You can easily rent a car for about 350 kuna a day if you wish to explore other parts of the island. The rental agencies have firm policy of a minimum of one day rental (no hourly rentals). You can also rent a scooter or moped for about 250 kuna a day. There are hourly rates for the mopeds and scooters. The roads on hvar can be steep and windy and there are no guard rails, so be careful especially if riding a rented moped which is old and has already done tens of thousands miles.

Keep in mind that there are only 2 petrol stations on the island: in the town of Hvar and near Jelsa. From Securaj to the nearest petrol station on the island is approx 50 km.

There is a convenient water taxi [www] that will take you directly from Stari Grad harbour to the ferry for 15 Kuna.

Hotels

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Hotels

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Shopping

Hvar is known for its lavender, you can see it blooming in the summer over large areas. Don't forget to purchase bunches of lavender or lavender oils in beautifully painted glass bottles the lingering fragrances will remind you of the lovely time you spent on the island of Hvar.

  • Made in HvarPjaca (at the main square),  +385 21 718 438. 9-24.contemporary art and craft gallery presenting local art as well as artist in residence concept. Moderate prices and high aesthetic standards, unique and interested. Also, open all year.

Restaurants


Hvar Town

  • Restoran AntonioBurak 3, Zdrilca (island of Zdrilca, rent a boat in Hvar town to get here), +385 21741485, e-mail: . Great seafood and a good view over the bay 100 Kn.
  • The Golden Shell (With the port behind you and the main square in front of you, head left past the church and the restaurant is a small doorway down an alley on the right.). Just off the main square near the main arrival port of Hvar is the Golden Shell, a small restaurant recommended as the best by the locals. The eating area is outdoors under a lovely vine roof, and if you are lucky you may be offered a measure of the home brewed fig brandy. Be careful, it's extremely strong but the locals recommend one a day to keep you healthy. The delicious national dish of Croatia is available, rabbit in fig sauce, and the rabbit and potato with peanut sauce is also highly recommended.

Pakleni Islands

  • TonciSveti Klement, Vlaka,  +385 21 742480, e-mail:. Beautiful little restaurant in a garden of fig and mandarin trees. They make their own wine from the vineyards next to the restaurants, the fish they catch in the nearby water. If you order a desert of fresh figs, they will pluck them from the trees around you HRK 100.

Sights & Landmarks


History

The Town Square in Hvar is among the most beautiful and the largest in Croatia. The square measures 4500 square meters, and the town has developed around this square, starting north of the square in the 13th century and then circling to the south of the square in the 15th century. There is also a fortress at the top of the hill with walls that encompass parts of the city. It's an easy walk, although uphill, to the fortress...it's worth the trek however because of the wonderful views you have of the harbor and surrounding areas. Don't forget to bring your cameras. There is a small eatery in the middle of the fortress where you can purchase drinks and snacks.


Architecture

The Cathedral of St. Stephen dominates one end of the Town Square, and was built during the 16th and 17th centuries. The bell tower of this cathedral is four-stories high, with each level more elaborately decorated than the last. The cathedral was built over a previously existing cathedral that was destroyed by the Turks. Parts of this older cathedral can be seen inside the church, but most of the interior was rebuilt.


The arts

Unique ceramics decorated with spiral ornaments in red, yellow, brown, and white were found at a Neolithic archeological site, Grapčeva špilja, near Hvar Town. Since such ornaments and engraving methods have only been found on the island of Hvar, archeologists have named this kind of Neolithic art "hvarska kultura" (Hvar's Culture). The island of Hvar also has the tradition of making lace, but from the threads of agava leaves. Nuns from the Benedictine monastery in Hvar are masters of this unique craft.


Hikes and walks

Take a water taxi to the nearby Pakleni archipelago, where secluded strands of white sand, hiking trails and pine groves await. Or hike for 2 hours along the Hvar's southern cliffs from Dubovica to the winery of Zlatan Otok for a late lunch, a swim and a boat ride return to Hvar Town.


Scenery and nature

One visitor describes Hvar as "beautiful, crystal-clear blue sea, big green hills, clean air and lots of old stone." At sundown a stroll up old lanes from the square in Hvar Town leads up to another lane which, high above the others is extremely attractive and shouldn’t be missed.


Religion and religious sites

The Bishop's Treasury, adjacent to the cathedral, contains silver vessels, embroidered Mass robes, numerous Madonnas, icons dating from the 13th century, and an elaborately carved sarcophagus.

Things to do

Rent a boat (5 horse power) for about 350 kuna a day and explore the Pakleni Islands on your own. You can rent boats right in the main square in Hvar town. The islands are very close and make for an amazing adventure. Take a picinic or a bottle of wine. The boat can be anchored anywhere around the islands or tied to the rocks.

Rent a scooter for 250 kuna a day and go around the island. There is lots to see and many interesting stopping points.

There are also frequent water taxi that go the Pakleni Islands that run every half hour or so.

Climb up to the Španjola Fortress. Enjoy the magnificent view of Hvar town and the Pakleni Islands, and pick up Italian radio on your mobile phone or main local Megamix Radio Hvar radio station .

Go dancing at Carpe Diem. This is not to be missed. The djs are usually on the international circuit and the energy is high.

  • HVAR Adventure, Obala bb (behind the Theatre/Arsenal building on the main Square),+385 91 1543072. Offers sailing, sea kayaking, hiking, rock climbing, cycling.
  • Adventure park Hvar Jelsa (Paintball Hvar Jelsa), Jelsa Hvar (Near Hotel Fontana Jelsa),  +385 98 1723932, e-mail:. Great things to do for families, stag party, kids, groups of friends and more.Offers Paintball,splatmaster,cageball,beach volleyball, badminton,human table football, archery, boccie,giant boxing

Nightlife

  • Carpe DiemAt the end of the riva (At the end of the riva on the right side). It's all big cushions, sofas, hammocks and mood lighting. Drinks leave something to be desired. It's a real shame, because it's the perfect spot to drink cocktails, but they make them with flavoured syrups instead of fresh fruit, and they all taste like bubble-gum.
  • Prsuta Tri (on the narrow street just behind the main square),  +385 98 9696193, e-mail: . Good vine bar, has cheese, olive, and prosciutto
  • TeracaPlaca (On the long terrace above the main square). Friendly small bar with an amazing view over the square and harbour 25 kuna beers, drinks for 18 kuna.

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