Škor Square, Stari Grad
Of the numerous small squares in Stari Grad, the most picturesque one is the Skor Square. Almost like a theatre coulisse (which it actually becomes during the summer cultural events), this square was formed , during the 17th and 18th centuries from a stretch of shallow water. It was once home to a shipyard which was covered and the square took its name from this (skor from skver, in Dalmatian dialect, means shipyard). This curved space where mythical Dalmatia lives is enclosed by typical dalmatian working-class houses with picturesque luminari (roof windows) as well as sulari and skalinade (stone terraces with staircases).
Stari Grad Plain, Stari Grad
This large plain occupies the island' s central area. Its name kept changing with the successive arrival of new masters. First known by the Greeks as Chora Pharu, it became Ager Pharensis in Roman times and was later replaced by the medieval name of Campus Sancti Stephani (the Plain of St.Stephen). It is now known as Stari Grad Plain, and has sustained the life on the island for thousands of years. The Plain is in fact a cultured landscape, formed by thousands of years of human labour. Its ancient man-made features originate from 24 centuries ago when Greek colonists divided the Plain into rectangular plots of 1x5 stadia, (ca. 180x900m), each enclosed by drywall.
The Plain was crisscrossed by major roads cutting through it in regular longitudinal and transversal directions. Today we can identify the point in the Plain from wich the Greek surveyor began his measuring located at a road intersection. It has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008.
Petar Hektorovic Tvrdalj, Stari Grad
The top attraction in Stari Grad is the Hektorovic Tvrdalj, the ‘castle’ built be one of Croaita’s most famous poest, Petar Hektorovic (1487 – 1572). Situated at the back of the largest square in the town, close to the court, Hektorovic built an original legacy, and carved some of his writings in stone in Latin, Italian and Croatian.
With a long sea-facing wall preventing it from attack and intrusion, entering the courtyard is something of a surprise, and includes a large fishpool and herb garden. Above the entrance, carved in stone, he wrote “Petar Hectorović, son of Marino, at his own expense and by his own effort built this for the use of himself and his friends.”
Biankini Palace, Stari Grad
>The impressive Biankini Palace, home of Stari Grad Museum, was the Neo-Renaissance family home of the Biankini Brothers and dates back to 1896. In the garden there is a Deodar Cedar which is as old as the building itself.
Dominican Monastery, Stari Grad
Right at the back of the old town is the impressive Dominican monastery of St. Petar Mucenik which was founded in 1482, and then fortified with two rounded turrets in 1682 following the Turkish attack on the island. Here Hekorovic is buried, along with his mother, and his words are carved in stone above the church entrance.
There is an impressive array of art on display, of which the most valuable is The Mourning of Christ by Venetian artist Jacopo Tintoretto, and the oldest inscriptions in Croatia, written in Greek from the 4th to 2nd Centuries, are preseved in the small museum.
St Stephen’s Church, Stari Grad
St. Stephen’s is a baroque church built after the old cathedral and bishop’s court had been destroyed. Construction started in 1605, with the main façade thought to have been built by Ivan Pomenic from Korcula, who also constructed the current cathedral in Hvar Town. The interior is decorated with works by various Venetian artists.
Tvrđava Španjola – Spanish Fortress, Town of Hvar
Towering above all the revelling and the mega-yachts is the Spanish Fortress, built in the early 16th century, and offering spectacular views of the town and islands below. The fortress is not the original, and the 13th century city walls, constructed soon after the islanders requested Venetian protection in 1278, predate it by almost 200 years.
Hvar was destroyed by the Turkish Fleet in 1571 and only the fortress saved the local population, but a freak lightning strike on the gunpowder stores caused further devastation, and many of the town's buildings can be traced to this period of reconstruction. The fortress can be accessed by car for visitors to Hvar Town and it is then a pleasant stroll down to the town.
St. Stephen's Cathedral and the Main Square, Town of Hvar
The central point of Hvar Town is the pjaca, or main square which, at 4,500m2, is the largest square in Dalmatia. Originally part of the bay, the land was filled in and fully paved in 1780; the fountain in the square dates back to 1520. In summer, the square is extremely busy, with all cafes and restaurants overflowing, but there is a much more tranquil feel after the season, as locals relax over a coffee.
At the far end of the pjaca is St. Stephen's Cathedral, which was finished in the 18th Century, with construction of the current building starting in the 16th century. The first church on the site was built in the 6th century and was granted cathedral status in the 13th century when Hvar Town assumed the Bishopric from Stari Grad. The intermittent construction period gave rise to different architectural styles, and there are elements of Gothic, Romanesque and Renaissance. Inside there are eleven Baroque altars made by artists from Venice.
The Arsenal and Clues to an Earlier Civilisation, Town of Hvar
Guarding the right-hand entrance to the pjaca is the impressive Arsenal building, with its 10m spanned archway. Built between 1579 and 1611 to house war galleys, the Arsenal is an imposing building on the waterfront and underwent renovation in 2009. It was also used as a storage facility for items such as cereal and salt. Coins were found in 1835 bearing the name Heraklea leading to speculation that the ancient Greek settlement of the same name may have been located in Hvar. Spectacular ruins were unearthened during renovation under the Arsenal floor in 2015, giving us one more layer to Hvar's rich heritage.
The Oldest Municipal Theatre in Europe, Town of Hvar
On the first floor of the arsenal is a delightful sight that tourists sometimes miss - the oldest municipal theatre in Europe. Built in 1612, the theatre celebrated its 400th anniversary in 2012, and the current interior was renovated in 1803. It owes its existence to the then Prince of Hvar Pietro Semitecolo, who was inspired by the Italian theatre at the time and arranged for the construction with money from the commune of Hvar. Events to celebrate the anniversary are planned for October.
Franciscan Monastery and Benedictine Convent, Town of Hvar
Walking along the riva past Carpe Diem, the Franciscan Monastery comes into view. Built in 1465, it was jointly financed by the nobles of Hvar and sea commanders as testament to their gratitude for many lives saved at sea near Hvar. The local contribution included 1000 gold coins from Antun Lucic, and his son, the famous poet Hanibal Lucic is buried under the main altar.
Hanibal Lucic also had a part to play in the Benedictine Convent on Hvar, which has played an important role in the town since nuns first arrived in 1664.
The fortress church of St. Mary of Mercy, Vrboska
The most imposing architectural site in the place, unique in the Adriatic region, is the church of St. Mary of Mercy. The fortress church was widened and fortified in 1575 following the Turkish attack under the guidance of the Turkish duke Uluč-Alija in 1571, who looted and burnt Vrboska as well as most of the island. Fort Kaštilac is from the same time period and it served as a guarding post.
The fortress church was fortified at the expense of local people for their defence against the Turks. It is the most beautiful one in Croatia and among the most beautiful ones in Europe from that time period. The church housed some impressive Renaissance art, which has been temporarily placed in the parish church of St. Lovre.
Church of St. Lovre, Vrboska
West of the fortified church of St. Mary of Mercy is the parish church of St.Lovrinac with 5 altars. It dates back to the 15th century, and has been adapted to the Baroque style in the 17th century. It has kept its Baroque image to this day. The parish church had been burnt twice over the course of history. The first time was in 1512 during a rebellion and again in 1571 when the Turks invaded. The interior of the church hides priceless artistic treasures – one of the richest art collections in Dalmatia. The main altar is decorated with art-work centering on St. Lovre with the Madonna while on its sides showing "Ivan Krstitelj and Nikola". The rest of it shows St. Lovro leading the poor to the emperor Valerijan and St. Lovro's torments. Tradition has it this is the work of Tizian Vecelio, but modern history says a painter by the name Pavlo Cagliari aka Veronese had done it in the 1480s.
Fisherman's museum, Vrboska
Founded in 1972 with the aim of preserving Vrboska's rich fishing tradition, the Fisherman's Museum has an interesting collection of traditional fishing nets, tools and equipment, as well as tools from the old fish processing factory. There is also a fascinating insight into the harsh conditions of life in a reconstructed fisherman's house.
St. Ivan’s Square, Jelsa
St. Ivan’s (St. John's) Square is one of the most beautiful squares from the Renaissance-Baroque era, with a small octagonal church dating back to the end of the XVII ct. The church is built in three different styles: Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque.
The Square and the surrounding streets took shape from the XV ct. to the XVII ct. and, from the architectural point of view, along with the civil houses built between the XVI and the XX ct. with Renaissance lamps and balconies, they are the most preserved part of Jelsa.
Croatian Renaissance Square (Pjaca), Jelsa
The square is situated right in the center of Jelsa. It slowly developed from the XVI ct. to the beginning of the XX ct. On the west side of the square there is a natural water spring, Slatina, which has been used by the local inhabitants since ancient times.
In order to let the surplus water from the Slatina spring flow into the sea, a brook was created in 1847. In 1934, a fountain was built in the middle of the Square.