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Hvar Island, Croatia
Hvar Island, Croatia (Image by Walter Bichler from Pixabay)

Hvar Island

Just off the Dalmatian coast rising out of the clear waters of the Adriatic Sea lies the Croatia island of Hvar. Around 80 km long, this narrow island is a gently tapestry of lavender fields, vineyards, olive groves and pretty Venetian villages. The main centre of population on the island is the town of Hvar, one of the best-loved resort on the Dalmatian coast. The Venetians based their Adriatic fleet  here in the 15th and 16th centuries, which brought great prosperity to the island. In 1571, however, the Turks invaded and laid waste to Hvar, so the buildings which make up the town today were built from the late 16th century onwards. The medieval walls and fort in such a beautiful setting by the sea make Hvar well worth exploring.

At the heart of the town is St Stephen’s Square, with the magnificent 16th century cathedral at one end and the harbour at the other. Also close by is the theatre of Hvar, the oldest communal theatre in Europe built in 1612. South of the square, there is an impressive 15th-century Franciscan monastery, now a museum, where concerts are performed during summer.

One of the prettiest villages on the island is Vrboska, lying in a picturesque cove at the end of a long bay, surrounded by pine forests and lovely beaches. Its compact stone buildings line the waterways, crossed by charming bridges. The churches in Vrboska house a number of very valuable works of art, some of the greatest cultural treasures of the island.

Along the southern coast of the island are several smaller  islands, including Paklenski Otoci in the west and Scedro in the south. Paklenski Otoci is known for its beautiful beaches, clear sea and natural beauty. The island of Scedro offers a safe anchorage for boats and a pleasant place for swimming and walking. The western side of the island offers lovely views of Hvar’s mountain ridge, particularly memorable at sunset.