The settlement only became a true town in 1278, when the Venetians (during a brief period of occupation) encouraged people from Pharos (present-day Stari Grad) to relocate around this southwest facing bay, which they considered a more suitable center, as it could be better defended in the event of an attack. In 1420, the town came under Venice for a second time, and rapidly became on of the wealthiest centers in Dalmatia. The Venetians used it as port of call for trade ships travelling to and from the Orient, and also set up the headquarters of their Adriatic fleet here.
In 1610, in an act unique for its time, an agreement was signed declaring nobles and commoners politically equal and giving people of all social classes the same right to particlpate in administration.
There are a lot of sights to explore, to name just a few:
- The Town Square (St Stephen’s Square) (Pjaca) is the largest piazza in Dalmatia.
- The Cathedral of St. Stephen dedicated to St. Stephen, patron of city of Hvar, was and 17th centuries.
- Arsenal and municipal theatre – huge front arch allowed Venetian galleys to dock inside for repair work. Teatre opened in 1612 and welcomed all citizens regardless of their social standing, making it one of the first institutions of its kind in Europe.
- Franciscan Monastery & Museum – 15th century cloister is used for classical music concerts during the one of summer festival. The cypress in the cloister garden is said to be more than 300 years old.
- Hvar Benedictine convent dates from 1664.
- Fortica (Fortress) – a medieval castle once stood here, then the fortress has been rebuilt The present structure was erected by the Venetians in 1557.e Venetians in 1557.