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Hvar Island

The origins and holiday appeal of the island and town of Hvar

One of the largest and best known islands on Croatian coastline is Hvar island, located in the Adriatic Sea, just a short ferry ride from the city of Split. The township of Hvar allows the more active holiday maker to indulge in a lively diversion with historic sights galore, street markets, outdoor cafes, traditional restaurants and konobas, and music concerts. The city of Hvar is the home to one of the oldest theatres in Europe and the oldest theatre in Croatia, dating back to early 17th century.

The island spreads out on 80 km from west to east and it's a true paradise for its visitors. Tourists all over the world visit Hvar island and its town of Hvar, as it hides many and diverse surprises. It's one of the most popular stopovers and holiday destinations for both local and international celebrities and travellers.

'Pakleni otoci' islands seen from Hvar island
The town of Hvar is the main arrival point for many Hvar visitors who come to enjoy the island, as well as the nerby smaller islands called "Pakleni otoci".

Origins of Hvar island

The Hvar Island is thought to have been inhabited since the year 5000 B.C. Since then, many different cultures have left their imprint on the place. The Neolithic age proves its existence in the history of the Hvar Island by a fragment of pottery dating from the year 2500 B.C. The bronze pottery and hilltop sites represent the Bronze Age. The Iron Age left behind a lot of settlements including a castle; most of these settlements were even equipped with some rudimentary forms of defense.

After that, the ancient Greeks became very interested in the Hvar Island. Remains of the Greek colony can still be seen through some of the defense walls that are still standing. After the Greeks, a lot of other cultures left their legacy to the people on the Hvar Island, like the Romans, Byzantines, Slavs, Venetians, and Turks. Even newer states like Austria, France, England and Russia had their own influence on this island.

Hvar name changes

Clear waters at town harbour
Clean seas are one of the marks of many islands in Croatia, including Hvar
During its existence, the Hvar Island was know by other names, depending on what culture it belonged to. First it was known as Pharos and after that it was called Piteyeia (around the third century B.C.) as we know from the Greek poet Apollonius of Rhodes. While it was under Roman rule it was called Pharia and later Fara.

The Slavs, people that occupied the island during the middle ages, named the island Hvar. Even if the island was under Slav occupation, a lot of the inhabitants were Roman-speaking and convinced the Slavs to change the official name once more, this time into Quarra. In the eleventh century the Italians changed the name again into Lesina (meaning forest), a word full of meaning because at that time the island was perfectly characterized by a woody terrain. This name was kept until the nineteenth century when it was changed back into Hvar Island.

Island of sun

This place exists nowadays under the name of the Hvar Island, but the Hvar Culture has long been extinct. It is said that this culture existed from the year 3500 to 2500 B.C. The Hvar Island takes an important place in Croatian history, being one of the important literary centers of this country during the Renaissance period.

Nowadays the island is known as a producer of lavender flowers, honey and wine. These are just some of the reasons why this island appeals to international visitors, looking to stimulate their senses and enrich their Croatian holiday experience. The other reasons are its climate and unique position, including many different species of flora and fauna.

An interesting fact about the Hvar Island is that it gets about 2800 hours of sun per year - that's some 7.6 sunny hours per day. Apart from the sun and the sea, visitors to this island will find it hard to get bored. The island offers a lot to those interested in its history and culture, while being a great place to relax, bath in the sun and admire nature.

Town of Hvar

The island's central place is of course the town of Hvar, with its numerous tourist attractions and points of interest. It's an unavoidable place to visit with its rich architecture, cafes, restaurants and other forms of modern entertainment. This is the place where the first public theatre was opened in Europe, back in 1612.

Another place to visit on Hvar island is the town of Stari Grad, located in the northern part of the island. It's the site of some of the first human settlements on the Adriatic Sea from Antiquity.

Town harbour on Hvar island
During the summer season town's harbour on Hvar is one of the busiest with all types of sea vessels, from small boats and water taxis, to larger sea crafts and luxury yachts.

Stari Grad

The town of Stari Grad (meaning 'old town') located in the northern part of the Hvar Island had almost three thousand inhabitants in 2001. It is the site of some of the first human settlements on the Adriatic Sea from Antiquity. Jelsa, a town in the central northern region of the island, it’s said to have had a population of approximately 3.600 back in 2001.

Originally named Faros, Stari Grad is believed to have been established by Greek settlers from the Greek island of Paros, who arrived to what's now Hvar island in 384 BC. The town's name was changed to Stari Grad ('Old Town') in 1278 after Novi Grad ('New Town' - now Hvar town) was built.

The fourth region that might capture your attention is the town of Sucuraj, a city of picturesque beauty situated on the east cape of the Hvar Island. Sucuraj has been named officially the center of the eastern part of the Hvar Island. The town is said to be 2300 years old, fact which can fascinate anyone. The city has been blessed with mild climate and a beautiful country side which makes it even more perfect for contemplation and relaxation. The 400 people settled here live off tourism and fishing therefore any person who is interested in this location will be received with open arms and will have a wonderful time.

Town of Stari Grad on Hvar island
The town of Stari Grad is one of the oldest towns in Europe and probably the oldest in Croatia

Great place to relax and unwind

The Hvar Island is a great place for a holiday. One of the few places were you can escape from the big city life and all its problems, a place where you can really catch your breath and relax. Strolls on a forested sea path or a week of quiet life in one of the picturesque villages to see how life is without any connection to civilization. The Hvar Island is a relaxation heaven. There are a lot of sites to admire like one of the monuments of the Hvar Island, the Saint Lawrence Church which is known for the collection of paintings by old masters. The Hvar Island also has one of the largest naturist camps. There is simply no way you can get bored here.

One of the few places that man hasn’t destroyed yet, the Hvar Island is a must see just like other famous places in the world. It’s just that it hasn’t had so much publicity and this is perhaps the reason its beauty remains untouched. You can enjoy the scenery and you can see the way native people live there. This will give you an idea about the way our forefathers made a living without having to work in loud plants and polluted environments. As a fact, it is necessary to say that Hvar Island is one of the perfect places you can visit and unwire yourself.

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Hvar Island
Hvar Island

 

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