The beauty and quality of tourism offer of the island of Hvar was once again recognised in the prestigious Conde Nast Readers' Choice Awards on October 11, 2011, as Croatia's premier island was voted the eighth most best island in Europe.
The awards, announced in New York are now in their 24th year, and a record 28,876 readers cast more than eight million votes for the 2011 winners, ranking the world's best cities, islands, cruise lines, hotels, airlines and resorts. A full breakdown of all the winners will appear in the November edition of the upmarket travel magazine.
Hvar finished eighth in the European islands category, behind the winning island Bozcaeda, in the Turkish Aegean. Mykonos was the runner-up, followed by Madeira, Mallorca, the Shetland Islands, Capri and the Isle of Skye.
This international recognition comes on the heels of Hvar - famed for its stunning beauty and average of 2718 hours of sunshine a year - being chosen as the top destination on the Croatian coast by the Vecernji Tourist Patrol, a 40-day undercover survey of the country's Adriatic resorts by national newspaper, Vecernji List, who summed up Hvar as "the town has everything and then something on top of that."
It has been a high-profile summer for the Adriatic island, which also boasts the oldest organised tourism in Europe with the founding of the Hvar Health Society in 1868; in addition to the usual celebrities and super-yachts, the island made global headlines twice towards the end of the season.
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The town of Hvar is the largest settlement on the island of Hvar.
The access to Hvar implies the point from which we have reached it. From the sea, we get the sight of a waterfront promenade strip bordered with a row of palm trees and seven centuries old walls, overtopped by the fortresses protecting Hvar, extending downwards to the town and to the Venetian loggia. Coming from the central part of the island or using the road from the ferry harbour we arrive at the magnificent Piazza, a square generally considered the most beautiful of the kind in Dalmatia, dominated by St. Stephen's Cathedral and bordered by the palaces of Groda and by the cascading stone-built houses of Burag. But, no matter from which point this town is approached, Hvar straightway presents itself as a monument. Centuries have ground its stone, epochs, above all renaissance, have shaped its appearance. Monuments within monuments, monuments on monuments. Hvar is a jewel hidden by the time.
Yet, the presentation of Hvar is not defined by its monuments only. It should include its harbour spreading towards the sea and the islands called Pakleni Otoci, its hotels, apartments, its unmatched climate having healing properties, its restaurants and cafes, all reflecting the glossy spirit of an exquisite resort area for almost a century and a half.
Hvar displays with pride the oldest municipal theatre in Europe. Hvar has been built through time by notable domestic and foreign architects. Hvar has been celebrated in verses. Hvar has been painted by the painters. But Hvar itself is the best narrator of its own story. It is enough to come and see for oneself. That way we shall touch piece of the legend.
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The town's main square
The Croatian coastline together with its islands ranks among the most intricately indented coastlines in the world. Of 1244 islands, islets, cliffs and reefs that have remained following the dramatic rise in the level of the Adriatic Sea around 13000 years B.C., today only 50 are inhabited.
This wealth of islands and islets attracts adventurous travellers from all over the world. Kayakers and yachtsmen never fail to be delighted by the smaller isles and their romantic atmosphere, and by the relaxed way of life amid such tranquillity and beauty.
Many island towns please the senses with their beautiful architecture and atmosphere, by their monuments dating from Antiquity, works of art in stone, wood, on canvas and on ancient parchments.
Superb quality stone and highly skilled stonemasonry is a tradition on a number of the islands. Stone from the Island of Brač has been incorporated into towns, summer residences and many splendid works throughout Croatia, Italy and indeed the world.
The Adriatic lighthouses - those signposts of stone and guardians of the sea - are mostly automated, only about 15 of them still being manned.
Some have been fitted out as residences and can be rented for a Robinson-like adventure on a deserted island.