The island of Hvar, Croatia - information
Hvar - the longest and the sunniest Croatian island
Hvar is the longest island in the Adriatic Sea with its 68,2 km. It is a part of the Middle Adriatic island group and with its 299,6 km2 is the fourth largest island in the Adriatic Sea The highest peak on the island is St. Nicholas at 628 m, which makes it the third highest peak of the Adriatic islands. The west part of the island, with the largest width of 10,5 km, is more massive and wider than its east part.
The island of Hvar is a part of the Split-Dalmatian county in the Republic of Croatia and has 11 077 inhabitants (2011.). It is divided in 4 administrative parts, from west to east: town of Hvar, town of Stari Grad, municipality of Jelsa and municipality of Sućuraj. The town of Hvar (4251 inhabitants) is consists of following settlements: Hvar (3771), Brusje (194), Sveta Nedilja (131), Milna (104), Jagodina (30), Zaraće (14) and Velo Grablje (7). The town of Stari Grad (2781) is consisted of these settlements: Stari Grad (1885), Vrbanj (498), Dol (311), Rudina (70) i Selca by Stari Grad (17). In the municipality of Jelsa there are: Jelsa (1801), Vrbovska (548), Svirče (407), Vrisnik (190), Zastražišće (177), Zavala (156), Gdinj (133), Pitve (69), Poljica (59), Ivan Dolac (39) and Gromin Dolac (3). In the municipality of Sućuraj there are three settlements: Sućuraj (357), Bogomolje (100) and Selca by Bogomolje (6). On the island of Hvar there are currently two settlements without any permanent inhabitants, Malo Grablje (town of Hvar) and Humac (municipality of Jelsa).
Archaeological site Grapčeva cave near Humac gives evidence that the island of Hvar was inhabited 7000 years ago. In 384 BC Greek colonizers from the island of Paros founded the town of Faros on the site of modern-day Stari Grad, while the rest of the island was populated by the Illyrians at that time. The whole island of Hvar got its name, somewhat altered, after this colony. Romans ruled the island after the Illyrians and the Greeks, and later in history many rulers, kingdoms, empires and republics changed on the island. In the 7th and 8th century the island was inhabited by the Croats which make 95,5 % of the population today. Faros (Stari Grad) was the most important town on the island until the founding of Hvar commune in 1278, when the town of Hvar took precedence. Many historical monuments testify to the importance of the island and its turbulent history.
The island of Hvar is connected to mainland by ferry and catamaran lines. Ferry lines Split - Stari Grad and Drvenik - Sućuraj sail throughout the whole year multiple times a day. During tourist season ferries from Italy dock in Stari Grad and also a ferry on coastal line Rijeka - Split - Stari Grad -Korčula - Dubrovnik. Catamaran lines Split - Hvar - Korčula and Split-Bol-Jelsa sail during the whole year, and in tourist season additional lines are introduced. State road D 116 Hvar - Sućuraj, 77 km in length, is the main road on the island, and besides it there are different local roads. There are four gas stations on the island: two in Jelsa and one in Hvar and Vrbovska. Both of the stations in Jelsa are for road vehicles, the station in Hvar is for road and sea vehicles, while the one in Vrbovska is for sea vehicles only. The main ports on the island are: Hvar, Stari Grad, Sućuraj, Jelsa and Vrbovska, and there are two nautical marinas, one on Palmižana (Pakleni islands near the town of Hvar) and another in Vrbovska. A small sport airport is located on a field near Stari Grad.
During the long history of this island, the population had always been engaged in fishing and agriculture, and since 1868 organized tourism started to develop, which is the most important source of income for most people today. Most significant agricultural products are wine, olive and lavender oil. Thanks to a record number of sunny hours and clean, unpolluted nature all agriculture products from the island of Hvar are of supreme quality. Island's cuisine is based on healthy home made food, especially on fresh fish and olive oil. Tourist find the island attractive mostly because of its untouched nature, many picturesque beaches and bays, crystal clean sea, pleasant climate, historical and cultural landmarks, good healthy food, entertainment, quality accommodation, friendly hosts and pleasant and relaxing atmosphere of the entire island.
When you take the road towards the rest of the island, the first place you come across is Selca, then Bogomolje, Gdinj, Zastražišće and Poljica. These are all small villages whose historical parts aren't on the sea, but only a few kilometres south and north there are many bays with some houses within and beautiful beaches. Several km after Poljica you can turn to eco-ethno village Humac, in the vicinity of which Grapčeva cave is located. The cave is an important archaeological sight from prehistory. It is lighted so the visitors can enjoy the beauties of the underground.
After a 51 km drive from Sućuraj you will come to the first larger settlement – Jelsa. Jelsa is a small tourist town with many catering facilities, beaches and other entertainments. Most famous of Jelsa's sights are: Tor (massive fort from 4th century BC on a hill south of Jelsa), St. John's church with square (an octagonal church from the 15th century), parish Church of St. Mary's Assumption (14th century), Park (from 1870) and Pjaca (the main square in the town with a stream Slatina on the west side).
After Jelsa you can go on the main road to the west or to the south. On a hill southwest of Jelsa there are four small villages: Pitve, Vrisnik, Svirče and Vrbanj, mostly known for their production of quality wine. From Pitve to the south side of the island leads a narrow tunnel Pitve - Zavala, carved in stone and 1400 meters long. Zavala is a village closest to the tunnel exit and a bit to the west there are Ivan Dolac and Sveta Nedilja. On the steep slopes above these settlements there are many vineyards with quality grape varieties, of which most famous is Plavac mali. This part of the island is also famous for its pebble beaches that attract numerous tourists. In front of Zavala there is a small island Šćedro and above Sveta Nedilja there is a highest peak on the island Sr. Nicholas.
If you continue from Jelsa on the main road to west, after 2 km you will get to a turn to Vrbovska. Vrbovska is a small town located deep in a narrow bay. It is especially interesting because of its stone bridges that connect two parts of the village. You can enjoy a number of beaches in Vrbovska. And also something worth doing is a visit to a 16th century fortified church, a parish church of St. Lawrence from the 15th century and a Fishing museum. On UNESCO Word heritage list is a procession called "Za križen" (Fallowing the Cross) which is held every year in the night between Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. People from the parishes of Jelsa, Pitva, Vrisnik, Svirče, Vrbanj, Vrbovska and their guests participate in the procession.
After you return from Vrbovska on the main road and head west, you come to Stari Grad, the antique Faros, 61 km away from Sućuraj. Stari Grad is the oldest settlement on the island of Hvar and a known tourist destination. It is located in a deep bay (Starigrad bay) on whose north side lays a rugged coastline of the Kabal peninsula with many beaches and bays. The field of Stari Grad (east of the town) is also listed on the UNESCO World heritage list because of its antique land subdivision system. Of historical sights in the town itself most important are: remains of antique Faros (4th century BC), parish church of St. Stephen (built in the beginning of the 17th century on the location of former cathedral which was the first Croatian cathedral), and Tvrdalj (fortified castle of poet Petar Hektorović from the 16th century). A few kilometers south of Stari Grad is a village Dol and north village Rudine.
There are two roads leading from Stari Grad to Hvar. If you choose the main road, you need to pass through the Selca - Dubovica tunnel (1516 meters long) which will lead you to the south side of the island. Then you pass above a few bays and the village Milna. If you choose a side road, you pass through Selca by Stari Grad, Grablje and Brusje. This road goes over the hill and provides magnificent views on many stops along the way.
The town of Hvar is 77 km away from Sućuraj via the main road. It is the largest settlement on the island and its tourist, administrative and ecumenical centre. It is especially famous for its cultural and historical sights, as well as for its entertainment and gastronomic delights and beaches on Pakleni islands. Pakleni islands are a group of small, rugged islands southwest from the town. Most attractive sights of the town of Hvar are: St. Stephen's cathedral (from the 16th century), the square in front of the cathedral (the largest square in Adriatic islands), Fortica fortress (built in the beginning of the 16th century on a hill above the town), theater building (from the beginning of the 17th century, is one of the oldest theater buildings in Europe and the first public theater in the world, located near the arsenal), city hall (from the 15th century, former governor palace) and Franciscan monastery (built in the 15th century, with a museum containing paintings and many other historical objects). Except the "Za križen" procession, which is a notability of the whole centre part of the island, on UNESCO World heritage list there is also Hvar's lace made of agave trees made by the nuns of the St. Benedict monastery in Hvar.
Besides the above mentioned sights, the town of Hvar is known for its narrow stone streets called "kale". A walk through these streets is enjoyable and gives an authentic experience of Dalmatian architecture. Like in Hvar, you can walk through the streets in Stari Grad and Jelsa.
More information and photos about the island of Hvar can be found on Island-Hvar.info.