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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.