We left Lastovo on Thursday, 27th, to continue on our way north towards Trogir planning to visit the town of Hvar, Grad Hvar, as opposed to the island of Hvar, Otok Hvar. All our information was that Grad Hvar was a must see place.
Being in no hurry we spent Thursday night anchored in a triple headed bay on the south east end of Korcula, called Tri Luke, or Three Ports. Not much of a place but our plan was to follow pilot book advice and arrive in Hvar on Friday. We set off from Tri Luke on Friday morning and made straight for Hvar.
Grad Hvar is very popular in the summer and the town quay is usually full of big yachts. Although we had a series of back up plans we headed straight for the quayside arriving at about 11 am. The quay didn’t look too busy and as we arrived another cat was leaving so we were directed to their place. We are just about as close to the centre of town as a yacht can get, which is a bit of a mixed blessing!
As the afternoon wore on the ferries disgourged enormous numbers of suitcase dragging tourists and ever larger super yachts turned up to dwarf us; we looked more of a size of the local fishing boats alongside them!
Our first impressions of Hvar were good. The place is entirely pedestrianised, except for the ‘white vans’ that service the hotels of course. The quay, Obama Riva, is a clean, palm lined esplanade backed by restaurants.
Fifty metres from our spot is the town square and then on the other side of the square is the old walled town. Everywhere is built of pale stone masonry and is in fantastic ‘used but good’ condition. The streets are a grid of narrow alleyways which are occupied almost exclusively by cafes, restaurants, jewellery and craft shops.
At night Hvar is a party town. Busy and loud, and being so central we have a ringside seat – not so much fun at 2 or 3 in the morning when what sounded like a Russian Male Voice Choir wandered passed the boat followed by a less musically talented bunch of Brits.
The island of Hvar has been inhabited since Neolithic times . The Greeks built Stari Grad on the north coast and that remained the primary town until the 13th century when Hvar assumed prominence.
Hvar town was built around a small creek which emptied into what is now the harbour. The Venetians were asked for protection in 1278 and began building up the town and the fortifications. The Spanjola Fortress (named after Spanish engineers who helped build it) was constructed on the site of older fortifications. Begun in 1282 the work progressed slowly, the fortifications not being completed until the 1550s.
The creek became a war galley yard and the Venetians built the Arsenal alongside the old port as a repair facility. In the 15th century the town expanded outside the fort walls and the creek was filled in and became St Stephen’s Square in front of St Stephen’s Cathedral.
In 1571 the Turks sacked the town and its population only survived by taking shelter in the fortress. In 1579, on 1 October, at 3.30 am, the gunpowder store was struck by lightening causing considerable damage to the fort and town below; much of the current town originates from the subsequent rebuilding.
Today’s Hvar is a really nice town, one of the nicest we’ve visited. Picturesque, lively, bright and clean with fantastic architecture which has withstood the centuries well and has been looked after. It is aimed almost entirely at the tourist trade which makes for a boisterous, rowdy environment which can get a bit wearing.
We even had a young couple scale our raised gangway to avail themselves of our trampoline netting – just until Valeria repelled boarders!
Despite the noise and unwanted visitors we do agree that Hvar is a must see place.