The town of Jelsa, island of Hvar in Croatia

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General presentationGeneral information
Escutcheon of the town of Jelsa. Click to enlarge the image.The town of Jelsa. Click to enlarge the image in Fotolia (new tab).Jelsa is a harbor small town, approximately 1800 inhabitants, located on the island of Hvar in Croatia.

Situation of Jelsa. Click to enlarge the image.It is also a commune (općina) being part of the county of Split-Dalmatia. The commune of Jelsa understands the localities of: Gdinj, Gromine Dolac, Humac, Ivan Dolac, Jelsa, Pitve, Poljica, Prapatna, Pokrivenik, Svirce, Calved and Mala Stiniva, Vrboska, Vrisnik, Zastražišće and Zavala.

EtymologyEtymology
Under the Republic of Venice, Jelsa named, in Italian, Gelsa.

SituationSituation

Situation of Jelsa. Click to enlarge the image.The town of Jelsa is located on a bay in the middle of the northern coast of the island of Hvar, vis-a-vis the island of Brač. In clear weather, one can see the south of will riviera of Makarska on the continent.

In the south of the city dense forests of pines are recovering the slopes of the mountains of Vrh, of Samotorac and of Gozd who form the peak of the island.

West of Jelsa the two greater summits of the island are: in south-west, the mount Saint Nicholas (Sveti Nikola), and in the North-West the mount Er.

Situation of Jelsa. Click to enlarge the image.The port of Jelsa is protected from the winds of north by the hill of Burkovo (86 m).

Jelsa is the only place on the island which profits from an abundant fresh water; for this reason the vegetation is more luxuriant there than elsewhere on the island.

VisitsVisits

The channel of Jelsa. Click to enlarge the image in Fotolia (new tab).Jelsa is divided into two unequal parts by a channel which drains water of this formerly marshy zone: in the south and the east, the Large Bank (Calved bandaged); in north, the Small Bank (Mala bandaged).

Plan of the town of Jelsa. Click to enlarge the image.

The town of Jelsa seen since the sea. Click to enlarge the image.The town of Jelsa seen since the sea. Click to enlarge the image.
House martins in the channel of Jelsa. Click to enlarge the image.House martins in the channel of Jelsa. Click to enlarge the image.House martins in the channel of Jelsa. Click to enlarge the image in Fotolia (new tab).
The church Saint Mary (Crkva Svete Marije)
The Saint Mary church was built at the origin - in 1331 - in Gothic style. It was extended and strengthened to the 16th century (1535), because of the attacks of the Turks. The current frontage and the bell-tower are additions of the 19th century (the frontage of the Rebirth can be seen in a painting of the 17th century inside the church).

The interior of the church comprises three naves; on the ground some tomb stones of the 16th century are.

The statue out of wooden of the Virgin, on the high altar, was brought to Jelsa in 1539 by refugees coming from the area of Sinj on the continent. The statue is celebrated each year the day of Saint Mary.

The parish church Our-Lady-with-the Assomption understands four vaults: two larger date from the 17th century, two smaller of the 19th century.

In the first vault, on the right, one can see the table “the Virgin and the martyr of saint Sebastien” of the painter Venetian baroque of Flemish origin Pietro de Costera.

The Saint Mary church. Click to enlarge the image.The Saint Mary church. Click to enlarge the image in Fotolia (new tab).The Saint Mary church. Click to enlarge the image in Fotolia (new tab).
The Place (Trg)
The port of Jelsa. Click to enlarge the image in Fotolia (new tab).The place, of Croatian Renaissance style, is also known like the “Pjaca”; it is in the center of Jelsa, just beside the sea front. On the west coast of the place a source of water is, Slatina, which was used by the inhabitants since Antiquity. In 1934, a fountain was built in the middle of the place.
The Park (Perivoj)
The statue of the composer Antun Dobronic. Click to enlarge the image in Fotolia (new tab).This park was created in 1870 by the marshy ground drainage; it is one of most beautiful and largest of Dalmatia. The large poplars, the pines, the palm trees, the acacias, the bay-trees and other Mediterranean plants contribute to its beauty.

The park contains a statue of the captain Nikola Duboković (1835-1912) realized by Ivan Rendić, and a statue of the composer Antun Dobronić (1878-1955), born in Jelsa, by Slavomir Drinković, sculptor originating in Jelsa.

Rule of the Dubokovic captain. Click to enlarge the image.

The Place Saint John (Trg Sv. Ivana)
The Saint John church. Click to enlarge the image in Fotolia (new tab).The Saint John place is the most beautiful place of Jelsa, representing the Renaissance style and the style baroque.

On the place is the Saint John church, built at the end of the 15th century in Gothic style. It is a church of octagonal plan which is a superposition various styles: Gothic style, Renaissance style and style baroque of the 17th century.

The Saint John church. Click to enlarge the image.The neighbouring place and streets represent, from the architectural point of view, the oldest part, most harmonious and best preserved of Jelsa Renaissance and baroque, with its houses of 15th at the 17th century.

Some buildings of the Rebirth survived, as the Skrivanelli House (behind the church) whose tympanum of the gate carries an escutcheon of year MDLXI (1561) and the inscription: “DOMINUS CUSTODIAT INTROITUM TUUM AND EXITUM TUUM” (Can the Lord keep your entry and your exit). The house of the count Dimitri Kačić, with his massive frontage, its decorated side door and its traditional garden holds the attention.

The Port
The port of Jelsa. Click to enlarge the image in Fotolia (new tab).The current town of Jelsa was founded at the 14th century like port of the village of Pitve. The city grew in importance during centuries. At the 19th century, it was one of the maritime centers, of naval construction and trade, most important of the Adriatic. It was the starting point of a fleet of sailing ships of open sea transporting the best wines of Hvar, the olive oil and salted fish.

The construction of the port and the dam current of Jelsa was undertaken around 1830.

The port of Jelsa. Click to enlarge the image in Fotolia (new tab).Boat of excursion since Baska Voda. Click to enlarge the image.Boat of excursion since Baska Voda. Click to enlarge the image.
Peninsula of Gradina
Peninsula of Gradina. Click to enlarge the image.The peninsula of Gradina shelters a certain number of historic sites, of which the site of the hermitage of Augustins (founded in 1599), replaced by the cemetery of the city in 1807. At the time Roman, it was the site of a castrum. Part of the old wall of protection of the old town of Jelsa (Ielsae Civitas Dressed) is visible on the west coast of the peninsula, which extends from the beach from Mined until Bocić.
The Cave of Grapčeva (Grapčeva spilja)
Near Jelsa, in the south-east of the city, is the cave of Grapčeva, place of worship of the Neolithic inhabitants of the island of Hvar (from 5000 to 4000 before J. - C.); these vestiges are composed of large and small rooms surrounded by corridors and smaller spaces.
The Fortress of Tor
Fortress of Tor (author Toni Drinkovic). Click to enlarge the image.On the spur of mountain overhanging Jelsa in the south the fortress of Tor is built on an old fortress illyrienne (4th-3rd century before J. - C.). Tor is a built massive fortification of enormous regular blocks of dry stones.

Jelsa seen since the tower of Tor (author Toni Drinkovic). Click to enlarge the image.The site - which was a Greek observation post - is an ideal defensive site, leaned with a cliff, which gives on the plain of Stari Grad, the islands of Hvar and Brač, the channel of Hvar, as far as Šolta and the coast from Makarska.

Démétrius de Hvar reigned here during about ten years until the Roman occupation.

The Fortress of Grad
A little further towards the east than the fortress Tor, is the fortress of Grad (or Galešnik) which is drawn up on a cliff overhanging the old road leading to the Eastern end of the island. Of origin illyrienne, the fortress was increased at the time Roman, and always inhabited during the Early middle ages.

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

HistoryHistory
The settlement of the area of Jelsa can be recalled since prehistory, then in antiquity, the times Greek and Roman. As the remainder of the island, the area of Jelsa was colonized by the Croats at the 8th century. At the 14th century, Jelsa is mentioned like port of the village of Pitve built around the Saint John church.
EconomyEconomy
The vineyard of Hvar and the trade of the wine were almost destroyed by the epidemic of phylloxera at the end of the 19th century. Today Jelsa is an important tourist center of the island of Hvar.

InformationPractical information

General information
The catamaran of Split. Click to enlarge the image in Fotolia (new tab).
Weather and forecasts
The Maritime transport
A catamaran of Jadrolinija ensures four daily crossings between the port city of Split and Jelsa.
The catamaran of Split. Click to enlarge the image in Fotolia (new tab).The catamaran of Split. Click to enlarge the image in Fotolia (new tab).
The catamaran of Split. Click to enlarge the image.The catamaran of Split. Click to enlarge the image.
Visiting timesVisiting times
HotelsHotels
The Jadran Hotel
The Jadran hotel on the right of village. Click to enlarge the image.The Jadran hotel is the oldest hotel of Jelsa: it was open in 1911.
The Fontana Hotel
The Fontana hotel in the middle of the pines. Click to enlarge the image.

Other topicsOther topics

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More detailed topics
The village of Vrboska, island of Hvar in Croatia
Close 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
Broader topics
Home page
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
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