Hvar (; local Chakavian dialect: Hvor or For, , , ) is a Croatian island in the Adriatic Sea, located off the Dalmatian coast, lying between the islands of Brač, Vis and Korčula. Approximately long, with a high east-west ridge of Mesozoic limestone and dolomite, the island of Hvar is unusual in the area for having a large fertile coastal plain, and fresh water springs. Its hillsides are covered in pine forests, with vineyards, olive groves, fruit orchards and lavender fields in the agricultural areas. The climate is characterized by mild winters, and warm summers with many hours of sunshine. The island has 11,103 residents, making it the 4th most populated of the Croatian islands.
Hvar’s location at the center of the Adriatic sailing routes has long made this island an important base for commanding trade up and down the Adriatic, across to Italy and throughout the wider Mediterranean. It has been inhabited since pre-historic times, originally by a Neolithic people whose distinctive pottery gave rise to the term Hvar culture, and later by the Illyrians. The ancient Greeks founded the colony of Pharos in 384 BC on the site of today’s Stari Grad, making it one of the oldest towns in Europe. They were also responsible for setting out the agricultural field divisions of the Stari Grad Plain, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In medieval times, Hvar (city) rose to importance within the Venetian Empire as a major naval base. Prosperity brought culture and the arts, with one of the first public theatres in Europe, nobles’ palaces and many fine communal buildings.
The 16th century was an unsettled time, with the Hvar Rebellion, coastal raids by pirates and the Ottoman army from the mainland, resulting in some unusual fortified buildings on the northern shore to protect the local population. After a brief time under Napoleonic rule, the island became part of the Austrian Empire, a more peaceful and prosperous time. On the coast, harbours were expanded, quays built, fishing and boat building businesses grew. At the same time, the island’s wine exports increased, along with lavender and rosemary production for the French perfume industry. Unfortunately, this prosperity did not continue into the 20th century as wooden sailing boats went out of fashion, and the phylloxera blight hit wine production. Many islanders left to make a new life elsewhere. One industry, however, has continued to grow and is now a significant contributor to the island’s economy. The formation of The Hygienic Association of Hvar in 1868 for the assistance of visitors to the island has been instrumental in developing an infrastructure of hotels, apartments, restaurants, marinas, museums, galleries and cafes. Today, the island of Hvar is a popular destination for tourists, consistently listed in the top 10 islands by Conde Nast Traveler magazine.
Hvar ( local Croatian dialect: Hvor or For, Greek: Pharos, and Pharina, ) is a city and port on the island of Hvar, part of Split-Dalmatia County, Croatia. The municipality has a population of 4,251 (2011) while the city itself is inhabited by 3,771 people, making it the largest settlement on the island of Hvar. It is situated on a bay in the south coast of the island, opposite from the other nearby towns of Stari Grad and Jelsa.
The city of Hvar has a long and distinguished history as center for trade and culture in the Adriatic. An independent commune within the Venetian Empire during the 13th to 18th centuries, it was an important naval base with a strong fortress above, encircling town walls and protected port. Cultural life thrived as prosperity grew, and Hvar is the site of one of the oldest surviving theatres in Europe, opened in 1612. The seven-century old walls still survive, as do many of the noble houses and public buildings from 15th - 17th centuries.
By the 19th century, the port of Hvar was no longer a military base, and The Hygienic Society of Hvar (Higijeničko društvo u Hvaru) took the economy of the city and the island in a new direction. As one of the earliest "tourist boards" in Europe, it was founded in 1868 with the purpose of providing "good care for visitors". Today, the city has a variety of hotels, galleries, museums, and exhibitions, including the Arsenal, Loggia, the Croatian Institute, and the Hvar Heritage Museum with its art and archaeological collections.
The port of Hvar, set in a picturesque natural bay, with the Pakleni Otoci island chain protecting it to the south, is a safe haven for boats year round. The city is a popular port of call for yachts sailing around the Adriatic, especially in the summer months. There are regular catamaran ferry services from the port between Hvar and Split, Brač, Korčula, Lastovo, and Vis.