The history of Hvar really starts from when the island was colonised by the Greeks in 384 BC, defeating the native Illyrian and Delmati peoples of the island. The Greeks built a large settlement – called Pharos – where present-day Stari Grad is located and another smaller one, Dimos, where Hvar Town is today. At the start of the 3rd century BC, the Romans took control of Hvar, and it was under their rule that the island went into decline.
Over the next several centuries, Hvar came under assorted rule – Ostrogoths, Neretvans, Byzantines. Hvar was part of the region that came under the control of the Kingdom of Croatia in the 11th century. However, Venice assumed a sort of “protectorship” role.
Venetian Rule on Hvar
In 1420, Venice finally took proper control of the island. Often used as a stopping point for ships sailing between Venice and the rest of the Mediterranean, the island prospered under this rule; so much so that the town became the richest area in Dalmatia. This period, however, wasn’t without its troubles. In 1510, a group of around 6,000 Croats led a rebellion which was quashed. Furthermore, in 1571, the Turks stormed Hvar Town and completely razed it to the ground.
In 1797 the island fell under Austrian rule as with much of the rest of what is present-day Croatia. It was briefly held by France (1806 – 1812), before returning to Austrian control which continued to 1918. Four years of Italian rule followed, before finally becoming part of Yugoslavia in 1922.
The island was of course part of Croatia which declared its independence in 1991.