The first important characteristic of the Hvar festival are the places in which the festival presentations are held. As it entered authentic historical sites the festival became an ambiental radio festival where the fullness of the experience is enhanced by the links and bond between the sounds and texts, and the atmosphere of the setting in which they are presented.
1. Summer Residence of the Poet Hanibal Lucić
The former summer residence of Hanibal Lucić is the most famous among the suburban summer residences of Hvar. It lies on the edge of a historic path which has connected Hvar with Stari Grad for ages. The fortified residence was built in the mid- 16th century. It includes two houses and a Renaissance garden. The landlord lived in the eastern house, while the servants occupied the western house. The residence now houses the Hvar Heritage Museum and the state archives.
2. Ruins of the Dominican Monastery and St. Mark's Church
The monastery and the church of St. Mark were first mentioned in 1312 but today's remains date back to the 16th and 17th century. The Dominican monk Vinko Pribojević held his famous speech „On the Origin and Glory of the Slavs“ in this church. Croatian family graves from the 15th to 18th century are among the ruins of the former three- nave building. The church also served as a meeting place for the „Big Night“ (Veliko vijeće), a municipal assembly of the nobility. The monastery was closed during the French administration in 1807. The apse of the church was converted into a chapel in the first half of the 19th century.
3. City Fortress / Fortica
Together with the city walls, the fortress forms an imposing stronghold. Its construction began in 1278, when Hvar was under Venetian rule. Archaeological finds however suggest that fortified constructions may already have existed in earlier times. In 1551, a new fortress was built on the site of the ancient fortification. Twenty years later, during the devastating attack by the Turks in 1571, the local residents found shelter and protection within its walls. The building was severely damaged by an explosion in 1579 after a thunderbolt had struck the gunpowder depot. It was not restored until the early 17 th century under the reign of Prince Pietro Semitecolo. The Baroque bastions were also built during this period. Under Maria Theresa, the Austrians were last to add barracks to the building in 1775- 1776. Today, the fortress also houses a small museum with an amphora collection.
4. Franciscan Monastery and Church of Our Lady of Mercy
The church dedicated to the Virgin Mary was built in the 15th century as a single-nave Gothic structure in place of the small Chapel of the Holy Cross. It was financed by donations from Croatian nobles and ship captains who came to Hvar. Once completed, it became the church of the sailors, as indicated by many inscriptions by Venetian naval commanders in and around the church. The north aisle of the church with the Renaissance Chapel of the Holy Cross was built in 1536. Inside the church are 16th century altars, a Renaissance sanctuary by Venetian masters, as well as the grave of the Croatian poet Hanibal Lucić. A large painting of the Last Supper, a work by Matej Ponzoni, hangs in the refectory. The monastery also includes a library, a museum collection, and a centuries-old cypress.
5. Veneranda - Former Church and Monastery of St. Veneranda
The church was built in 1561 for the needs of Greek Orthodox sailors who were in the service of Venice. On the initiative of the Croatian Bishop, Girolamo Priulija, a Catolic altar was built next to the Orthodox altar in 1685. The church and the monastery were damaged during the Russian bombardment in 1807. The building complex lost its religious purpose when the French turned it into a fortress in 1811. Later, the Austrians also used the walls as fortification. In 1858, the famous scientist Grgur Bučić established one of Croatia’s first weather stations on this site. In the second half of the 20th century, the complex served as an outdoor cinema.
6. Our Lady of the Flag (Crkva Gospe Kruvenice, also known as Santa Maria Incoronata)
The church dates back to the 15th century, possibly earlier, and the pillar by its entrance bears an inscription to the governor Francesco Coco dated 1550. The Papal inspector Augustin Valier, who visited Dalmatia in 1579 and 1580, noted that there was an icon over the altar.
In the Catholic Church the 2nd February is the feast of Candlemas, known as Svijećnica in Croatian, and Kandalora in Hvar dialect. It celebrates the occasion when the baby Jesus was presented in the Temple for blessing and his Mother received ritual cleansing, forty days after the birth, in keeping with Jewish tradition (Luke 2: 22-40). In the Catholic tradition, there is now a procession followed by a mass, and candles are blessed which will be used later in the year for christenings and other festivals.
Hvar Town has its own unusual version of the celebration each year in the little chapel of Our Lady of the Flag. There is nothing in the history books to explain when or how the tradition arose for young people, including children, to be introduced to their first cigarette following prayers in the Crkva Gospe Kruvenice each year on February 2nd. Non-smokers attending the ceremony were also expected to take a puff. The tradition persists, despite increasing awareness of the dangers of smoking. However, nowadays the cigarette smoking has diminished, in favour of lighting a symbolic fire for cleansing, renewal, and protection against misfortune.The twin associations of light and fire are ancient symbols of salvation and renewal.
7. The Historic Theatre of Hvar
Historic Theatre of Hvar is a monument of national importance for Croatia, and one of the most important of its kind in Europe. It is situated on the first floor of the Renaissance Arsenal – shipyard and galley utility storage from the mid-16th century. As a key object of port facilities, it is located in the center of urban core of the town of Hvar.
Though modest in size, harmonious Renaissance forms make it one of the most beautiful and best preserved in the Mediterranean.
Nowadays preserved interior of the theater, first built in 1803 when the Theatre Association was established (the first of its kind in Europe), was changed and artistically adapted to the year 1900. Stylistically it belongs to the neo-Baroque period and as such is included in the a dozen of preserved Baroque and neo-Baroque theaters in Europe. Theatre Association also ran the program of the theater. In theatrical seasons, which were associated with the time of carnival, many local and foreign theatrical and musical amateur and professional theater companies performed at the Theatre of Hvar.
Photos: Prix Marulic Team