After arriving in Split on Day 1 of our cruise among the islands off the coast of Croatia, we settled into our cabin on M/S Kleopatra with a bit of time to have a quick look around Split. Dinner on board was great that night and we started to get to know our Kiwi companions for the next seven Days. The next morning we sailed to the island of Brac not far from Split and stopped at Golden Cape for our first swim of the trip. We also stopped in for a short walk around the town of Bol on this island before returning to our boat for our first lunch on boar.
From Bol it wasn’t far to the island of Hvar which according to our hosts’ notes of the trip, was a meeting point for the international jet set. I couldn’t pick out any ‘Jet-Setters’ but it was a very pleasant little town. One of the good things about this trip was that all food was supplied except for our evening meal and this was taken at restaurants on the particular island we were stopping at.
We anchored for the night not far from the centre of town and we were able to walk around the shore to Luka Hvar (Port Hvar) for a guided walk around the town. This island is unusual in this area of the Adriatic as it has a fertile plain that is covered with pine trees, vinyards and Olive Groves and Lavendar fields. Its location has made it an important location for traders between Italy and the Adriatic Coast. It has been inhabited since prehistoric times by Neolithic people and then by the Illyrians. The town on Hvar that we stopped at, Stari Grad, was originally founded by Greeks in 384 BCE making it one of the oldest towns in Europe!
While the Church and it’s site are very old, there is a house on the Western side of this main square that has several large stone blocks from the original walls of the ancient Greek City of Pharos. There is a sign in the church’s bell tower from 1753 indicating that the ground floor of the bell tower was built with stone blocks from the ramparts of Pharos. Inside the first galley we were shown a stone relief of a Roman merchant galley (left below) from the second century! Further along the next street we came across an old well that had a figure of a winged ox that represented St Luke, the evangelist, inscribed with a date, 1475.
The northern part of the town is enclosed by city walls and there are three gates on different streets that allow passage through these still standing walls. One of these gates is shown on the left below and the steepness of the alleyways heading up the hill is illustrated on the right.
On the way up the hill we passed an old Benedictine Convent and a baroque Church named after St Anthony the Abbot. Outside the church there was a rather confronting statue of St Anthony in mid-sermon and Gayle seems a little confronted by his inspirational pose!
Below is a photo of the town fortress on the northern and older side of Hvar Town. This fort dates from the 16th century and apparently provided centuries of protection for the town that brought upon itself a lot of envy for its great trading situation. But the foundations of this monument are still visible and date fro the time when the Illyrians were defending their town from enemies. There was also a fort here in Byzantine days in the 6th century. The current fortress began when the Venetians took over the island in the 13th century so this building is an old, complex, cultural and historical monument.
We had a good look around the fortress and particularly took in the views down to the sea and the small offshore islands.
The walk back down to the harbour was very interesting as the early part of the path was through a large public garden. Down the bottom of the hill stood the ruins of the Dominican monastery and the associated St Mark’s Church. The church was first mentioned in the history books in 1312. It has been closed since the time of French administration of the island since 1807.
It was getting on in the afternoon so it was time to head back to our boat and get ready for heading out for dinner in the evening.