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Hvar Island
The island of Hvar is the queen of the all Dalmatian islands. Someone described Hvar as "crystal blue sea, big green hills, clean air and lots of old stone," but it doesn't do justice to the island which is listed as one of the 10 most beautiful islands in the world. The island is extraordinarily green and lush, covered in lavender and rosemary, and with coastline indented with innumerable rocky coves with impossibly clear water. Hvar Town is a collection of narrow, winding streets, carved in white stone and with surprising, intricate sculptures around each corner. Close to town and easily reached by excursion boats are the surreal, pine-wooded Pakleni Islands with secluded beaches, private coves and good snorkeling.

Due to its strategic location, the town of Hvar has been an important seaport since the antiquity. At the time of the Illyrians, around 300 BC, the town has developed around the main square, then north of the square in the 13th century and then circling to the south of the square in the 15th century. The imposing castle hovers above the fluid blend of grey stone and orange cascading roofs. The remains of walls built by a long list of invaders descend towards the wide promenade edging the brilliant sapphire sea and the quaint fishing harbor. Marble streets open up to one of the largest squares in Dalmatia, Trg Sveti Stjepana presided over by the Cathedral of St. Stephen and the Renaissance theater. The restaurants serve locally grown, organic produce, elegant boutiques sell unusual souvenirs, and a vibrant nightlife pulsates amidst the medieval streets of Hvar Town.

Hvar Town may be the most beautiful town on the island, but the island's true character is revealed in a smattering of small villages, dotting the coast or nestled in the lush interior. There are the gently rolling hills painted a brilliant purple by the lavender flowers, lush vineyards and ancient olive trees nestling at the foot of ragged mountains, stunning beaches with tiny inlets and secluded coves. You can come across nuns from the Benedictine monastery, practicing the unique craft of making lace from the threads of agave leaves or stumble into one of the archaeological sites. At a Neolithic archaeological site near Hvar Town, archaeologists found unique ceramics decorated with spiral ornaments in red, yellow, brown and white. Since such ornaments and engraving methods have not been found anywhere else, this kind of Neolithic art has been named "hvarska kultura" (Hvar's Culture).

At sundown, you may stroll up one of the old lanes leading from the square. It will take you to another lane which, parallel to the sea shore and high above the others offers an impossible view over Hvar Town, secluded strands of white sand, pine groves and lavender fields, exotic cliffs in the south and in the distance, the surreal Pakelni Archipelago.