The history of Hvar really starts when the island was colonised by the Greeks in 384 BC; the Greeks defeated 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. It was under their rule that the island went into decline.
Over the centuries that followed, Hvar came under the rule of assorted groups – Ostrogoths, Neretvans and Byzantines. Hvar was also part of the region that came under the control of the Kingdom of Croatia in the 11th century. However, during this time, Venice assumed a sort of “protectorship” role.
History of Hvar – Under Venetian Rule
In 1420, Venice finally took proper control of the island. Hvar was often used as a stopping point for ships sailing between Venice and the rest of the Mediterranean. This meant that the island prospered under Venetian rule; so much so that it 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.
After the Venetian Empire
In 1797 the island fell under Austrian rule as did much of the rest of what is present-day Croatia. Hvar was briefly held by France from 1806 to 1812, before returning to Austrian control. This continued until 1918.
20th Century History of Hvar
Four years of Italian rule followed the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918. The island finally became part of Yugoslavia in 1922.
The island was of course part of Croatia which declared its independence in 1991.