Since Hvar lays in the middle of the main sea routes, history has left here many traces, maybe more so than on any other Adriatic island. The finds from Grapac’s and Marko’s caves have enabled the archaeologists to identify the so-called Hvar culture (around 3500 to 2500 BC).   The examples of painted and encrusted pottery, with their various spiral motives, are among the most decorative artefacts from pre-Illyrian times. They are part of the general Aegean culture but were also further developed on Hvar.

The town of Pharos was founded in 385/4 BC by the Ionian Greeks, the Parans, at the invitation of the Sicilian despot Dionysius the Elder on the fourth year after the 98th Olympics. According to Dionysius the Older (the founder of Issa, the first Greek colony in the Adriatic), a suitable base had to be built for military and trade expansion, which would depend on its parent-state, Syracuse. Ancient Hvar also witnessed the first known naval battle in the Adriatic, between the Greek fleet under the command of the eparch of Issa and the native Illyrian tribe of the Liburni, who were defeated and thus lost control of the central Adriatic. An account of this is given by the historian Diodorus of Sicily.

After the fall of the Syracuse Empire in the middle of the 4th century BC, Pharos was without protection from invasion by the Illyrians. Between 229 and 219 it became the capital of the greatest historical personality of the island - Demetrius of Hvar. After the Romans had defeated the Illyrian queen Teuta, he reigned independently over the whole region from the Krka river as far as Durres (Albania). He made a pact with the Histri against the Romans in 221 to 220 BC. The Romans finally destroyed the walls of Pharos in 219 BC, although Demetrius escaped to the Macedonian king Filip V. There after, the whole (of) Illyricum came under the rule of Rome.

In the early middle ages, the Croats from Neretva valley moved to Hvar. The island was sometime a part of Neretva dukedom and then a part of Croatian state. The Republic of Venice ruled the island between 1278 – 1358 when it became a part of the Hungarian-Croatian kingdom. After a short time of acknowledging the sovereignity of the Bosnian kings, it became the part of the Venetian republic again from 1420 – 1797. In 1797, Hvar came under Austrian rule until the arrival of the French in 1806. The Austrians reoccupied the island in 1813 and reigned over it through out the 19th century until the end of the First World War. From 1918 to 1921 the island of Hvar is under Italian rule and in 1921 joined the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenians, which was later called the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and succeeded by the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia after the Second World War. The island was modernised in the second half of the 20th century, with all the positive and negative aspects of the modern age. Hvar obtained a new administrative position in the territorial reorganisation that took place after the recognition of Croatia as an independent state (January 15th, 1992).



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