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The island of Hvar in Croatia

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General presentationGeneral information
Chart of the island of Hvar. Click to enlarge the image.The island of Hvar is longest of the islands of the Adriatic (68 km), but only the fourth by its surface (nearly 300 km²): the island is indeed all in length of is in west, exposing its side to midday, which, added to its great sunning (2700 hours a year), makes of it a destination tourist very required - and slightly elitist -, as well as an area producing a red wine of quality.

The Croatian island of Hvar is with broad of Dalmatia power station and belongs to the county of Split-Dalmatia. The island understands four communes: Hvar in south-west, Jelsa in the North-West, Stari Grad in north and Sućuraj in the east. A fifth tourist locality of interest is Vrboska, which is part of the commune of Jelsa. The town of Hvar is the capital; it gathers 3700 inhabitants out of the 11500 inhabitants of the island. On the other hand, the access to the island of Hvar is done mainly by the port of Stari Grad where accost most ferries coming from Split.

The island of Hvar draws its name from that of the first founded Greek colony into 384 before J. - C. by Greek colonists coming from the island of Paros, with the site of current Stari Grad; they probably gave to the colony the name of “Pharos” (Φαροσ) per reference in the name of their metropolis.

Under the Roman empire, the island was known like “Pharia” and later like “Fara”.

When Slavic Croatian gained control of the area, at the beginning of the Middle Ages, they replaced the consonant “F”, absent from their alphabet, by the consonant “hv” of the old Croatian alphabet: the name of the island became Hvar. In the Croatian local dialect, the island is named Hvor or For.

Under the domination of the Republic of Venice, starting from the end of the 13th century, the Italian name of the island was Lesina (Liesena into Venetian); this Italian name has a Slavic origin however: “lesna”, which means “wood”, the island being strongly wooded.


The island of Hvar is in the south of the Adriatic Sea, off the Dalmatian coast, about fifty kilometers in the south of Split. The Eastern point of the island is only to 6 km of the continent. Hvar is with the crossing of the sea ways of transport of the Adriatic.

She belongs to a group of islands which belong to the counties of Split-Dalmatia and Dubrovnik-Neretva: in north, Hvar is separated from the island of Brač through Hvar (Hvarski Kanal), in south-west is the island of Screw, separated through Vis (Viški Kanal), and in the south the island of Korčula separated through Korčula (Korčulanski Kanal); while the peninsula of Pelješac is separated from Hvar through Neretva (Neretljanski Kanal).

Near the island of Hvar two small islands are: Šćedro in the south of Hvar, separate through Šćedro (Šćedorski Kanal) and Zečevo off the northern coast. Vis-a-vis the town of Hvar, in south-west, the archipelago of the Pakleni islands is.



The Northern Coast
All the northern coast of the island of Hvar is strewn with bays, like large bay of Stari Grad, and splits with small beaches which offer good dampings for pleasure boats.
The northern coast of the island of Hvar. Click to enlarge the image.The northern coast of the island of Hvar. Click to enlarge the image.
The Southern part
The southern coast of the island of Hvar close to Sveta Nedjelja (author Vid Pogacnik). Click to enlarge the image.Located at the bottom of the rock peak which separates the island into two, the southern part of the island of Hvar is characterized by its vines which produce excellent wines, red and white. This vineyard missed disappearing at the time of the epidemic of phylloxera of the end of the 19th century, but it was gradually reconstituted out of indigenous type of vine Plavac Mali (“small blue”), Zlatan Plavac and the almost black Faros type of vine, mainly around the villages of Zavala (famous for its white wine, the bogdanjuša, which can point out Jerez) or of Ivan Dolac (among the best red wines of Croatia, of very dark color red-ruby, with a developed bouquet, and having body).

To join Zavala since the unloading dock of the ferry of Stari Grad, one can take over the leadership of Vrbanj and visit while passing the pretty village of Pitve (way of 14 km); from the town of Hvar, to follow the coastal road via Sveta Nedjelja and Ivan Dolac (way of 31 km).

The East coast
The oriental party of the island of Hvar is an interminable rural and wild spit of land. Is island is developed very little on the tourist level; however, the small wearing of Saint George (Sućuraj), at the Eastern end, makes it possible to regain the continent with Drvenik in the south of will riviera of Makarska, by rather frequent connections ferry.
Seagulls in the channel of Hvar. Click to enlarge the image.Seagulls in the channel of Hvar. Click to enlarge the image.Seagulls in the channel of Hvar. Click to enlarge the image.

History and traditionsHistory, literature, arts, traditions, legends, religions, myths, symbols…

At the historical era, the first inhabitants of the island of Hvar were Illyriens. At the 4th century before J. - C. (384), the old Greeks established a colony, Pharos, at the place where currently the town of Stari Grad is. The island fell then, towards 219 before J. - C., in possession of the Empire Romain. After the fall of the Roman Empire of Occident, the island passed under the domination of Byzance.

During the Early middle ages (7th and 8th centuries), Slavic tribes seized the island. The following centuries were marked by ceaseless quarrels between Byzance, Venice and the sovereigns hungaro-Croatian about the control of Hvar. At the 11th century, the island joined the Croatian kingdom of Petar Kresimir IV. At the 14th century (1331), the Venetian ones took the island under their protection against the threats of the pirates of Omiš. According to the Treaty of Zadar of 1358, the island was given to the Kingdom of Hungary, but in 1390 it was directed by Bosnian king Stjepan Tvrtko Ist.

In 1420, the Republic of Venice durably establishes its domination on the island of Hvar, until the fall of Venice in 1797. During this period, the town of Hvar was the main port of Venice on the Eastern coast of the Adriatic. The island became prosperous thanks to the fishing and with the culture of rosemary, the lavender and the olive-tree. However, the 16th century saw risings of the plebs against the aristocracy dependant on Venice: most serious of these revolts took place between 1510 and 1514, under the direction of Matija Ivanić, but were crushed by the Venetian ones. In 1571, the Othoman Turks devastated the island: the towns of Hvar, Stari Grad and Vrboska were destroyed and shaven.

In 1797, to the fall of the Republic of Venice, Hvar was annexed by the monarchy of Habsbourg following the treaty of Campo-Formio. But the Napoleonean troops seized some in 1806, and the island briefly remained under the French occupation until 1814. In 1815, the island turned over to the Empire Austro-Hungarian, the Treaty of Vienna, and knew a certain prosperity which ended with the epidemic of phylloxera which struck the vineyard and the decline of the navy with veil.

The island briefly belonged to the Kingdom of Italy of 1918 to 1921, then was part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

In 1941, Hvar was part of the State Indépendant of Croatia (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska or NDH) of Ante Pavelić, then was occupied by the Italians in 1943. After 1945, the island belonged to the Popular republic of Croatia, a republic constitutive of communist Yugoslavia.

Since 1991, Hvar is part of independent Croatia.

The island of Hvar is longest of the islands of Dalmatia, with a 68 km length, and, in the broadest zone, a width of 10.5 km; its littoral is 254 km length and its surface is of 300 km². The summit of the island is the mount Saint Nicholas (Sveti Nikola) with an altitude of 628 Mr.

In the middle of the island extends a long mountainous peak, directed East-West, with the Saint Nicholas top; in north the fertile plain of Bicycle Polje is.

Fields of lavender on the island of Hvar (author Romeo Ibrisevic). Click to enlarge the image.Vines on the southern coast of the island of Hvar (author Danilo Tic). Click to enlarge the image.Tourism is from now on the economic main activity of the island.

Fields of lavender on the island of Hvar (author Collar Ford). Click to enlarge the image.However traditional activities remain: the viticulture which produces up to 50,000 hectolitres of wine a year; culture of the lavender for the production of aromatic oils and soaps;  fishing, formerly important, does not play any more but one marginal part.

InformationPractical information

General information
The Maritime transport
Schedules of the ferries for the island of Hvar. Click to enlarge the image.Stari Grad is the maritime main port of the island of Hvar: most travellers arrive at Hvar by the car-ferries coming from Split.

However, if one goes to Hvar since the area of Dubrovnik, fastest and most economic is to take the ferry with Drvenik, 28 km in the south of Makarska and with 128 km in the North-West of Dubrovnik, to join the port of Sućuraj to the Eastern point of the island of Hvar. From 3 to 4 crossings per day in winter; from 10 to 15 crossings per day in summer; from 25 to 35 min of time of crossing.

Hvar is also on the line of coastal navigation of Rijeka to Dubrovnik.

Two to three ferries daily connects Split to the port of Hvar. In summer, besides these ferries, a fast ship for pedestrians connects Split to Hvar, via Milna on the island of Brač. A fast ship also connects Jelsa to Split, via Bol on the island of Brač.

Road transports
The west of the island has a good network of roads: Hvar and Stari Grad are connected by a modern road which crosses the median mountain range by a tunnel recently built. The network of the roads is, on the other hand, rather bad in the oriental party, starting from Sućuraj. The road which connects the town of Hvar, in the west, and Sućuraj, at the end is island, is long 84 km.

Other topicsOther topics

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More detailed topics
The town of Hvar, island of Hvar in Croatia
The town of Stari Grad, island of Hvar in Croatia
The town of Jelsa, island of Hvar in Croatia
Close topics
The county of Split-Dalmatie in Croatia - Booklet Dalmatian Zagora (pdf)
The county of Split-Dalmatia in Croatia - Booklet Dalmatian Zagora (pdf)
The county of Split-Dalmatia in Croatia - Booklet Islands (pdf)
The town of Split in Croatia
The Cetina river in Croatia
The town of Omiš in Croatia
The riviera of Makarska in Croatia
The natural park of Biokovo in Croatia
The island of Brač in Croatia
The island of Hvar in Croatia
Broader topics
The county of Šibenik-Knin in Croatia
The county of Split-Dalmatia in Croatia
The county of Dubrovnik-Neretva in Croatia
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