Trg Sveti Stjepana (St Stephan's Square), with Arsenal (right foreground) and the Cathedral of Sveti Stjepana at (back of square).

Getty Images/Lonely Planet Images


Hvar Town

Mentioned in Venetian documents as ‘the most beautiful and the most useful building in the whole of Dalmatia’, the Arsenal once served as a repair and refitting station for war galleons. Its present incarnation was built in 1611 to replace a building destroyed by the Ottomans. Although you can't enter through the large, graceful arch, you can wander up the stairs to the terrace to enjoy the views over Hvar's attractive harbour.

Upstairs is an atmospheric theatre decorated with frescos and baroque loggias. Opened in 1612, it's said to be the first theatre in Europe to have admitted plebeians and aristocrats alike. It remained a regional cultural centre throughout the centuries and plays were still staged here right up until 2008.

In 2016, the remains of a 1st-century Roman building were discovered beneath the floor. The entire complex has been closed for restoration for many years now, but parts have been completed and are occasionally used for special events.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Hvar Town attractions

1. Trg Sv Stjepana

0.05 MILES

Stretching from the harbour to the cathedral, this impressive rectangular square was formed by filling in an inlet that once reached out from the bay. At…

2. Benedictine Convent

0.07 MILES

Playwright and poet Hanibal Lucić was born here in 1485, but this town house has been home to a community of Benedictine nuns since 1664. Over the…

3. St Stephen's Cathedral

0.09 MILES

Providing a grand backdrop to the main square, this baroque cathedral was built in the 16th and 17th centuries at the height of the Dalmatian Renaissance…

4. Episcopal Museum


Adjoining the cathedral, this treasury houses silver vessels, embroidered liturgical robes, numerous Madonnas, a 13th-century icon, an elaborately carved…

5. Fortica

0.18 MILES

Looming high above the town and lit with a golden glow at night, this medieval castle occupies the site of an ancient Illyrian settlement dating from…

6. Franciscan Monastery

0.28 MILES

Overlooking a pretty cove, this 15th-century monastery has an elegant bell tower, built in the 16th century by a well-known family of stonemasons from…

7. Pokonji Dol

0.91 MILES

This large pebbly beach is literally at the end of the road if you're following the coast east from Hvar Town. There's a large restaurant here.

8. Jerolim

0.99 MILES

The closest of the Pakleni Islands to Hvar, the island of Jerolim is entirely clothing optional.