Tvrdalj Castle was the summer residence of Petar Hektorović, the Croatian poet (1487–1572). During the 16th century, the island of Hvar came under attack from the Ottoman Turks. Hektorović, one of the local nobles, undertook to fortify his house so that it could act as shelter for the local citizens.
Tvrdalj is a well-preserved Renaissance building, with a long closed facade on the seaward side, to protect it from attack. The interior courtyard contains a sea-water fishpool, enclosed by a vaulted and arcaded terrace. Next to it is a tower with a dovecote. The living quarters, together with the servant quarters, and several wells, are arranged around the pool. Behind the main buildings is a walled garden where Hektorović cultivated herbs and medicinal plants.
A series of inscriptions are set into walls of the mansion in Latin and Croatian. Those in Croatian are considered to be some of the oldest extant.
In 1571 Stari Grad was again attacked and Tvrdalj was set on fire by the Turks. A year later, Petar Hektorovic died and the damaged Tvrdalj was divided between his relatives. Following provisions in his will, there were gradual improvements made. However, in 1834 the Venetian laws lapsed and Tvrdalj experienced massive construction works: the south wall of the complex was removed, vaults constructed around the pool, a second floor added on either side of the tower, and new two-storey houses were built. The bay in front of Tvrdalj was filled in as part of the harbour improvements. In the 20th century, further major changes were experienced in 1901 when the eastern wall was demolished and houses built over the vault and cistern which is still part of the Tvrdalj entrance.References:
Dating from the 15th century, Kisimul is the only significant surviving medieval castle in the Outer Hebrides. It was the residence of the chief of the Macneils of Barra, who claimed descent from the legendary Niall of the Nine Hostages. Tradition tells of the Macneils settling in Barra in the 11th century, but it was only in 1427 that Gilleonan Macneil comes on record as the first lord. He probably built the castle that dominates the rocky islet, and in its shadow a crew house for his personal galley and crew. The sea coursed through Macneil veins, and a descendant, Ruari ‘the Turbulent’, was arrested for piracy of an English ship during King James VI’s reign in the later 16th century.
Heavy debts eventually forced the Macneil chiefs to sell Barra in 1838. However, a descendant, Robert Lister Macneil, the 45th Chief, repurchased the estate in 1937, and set about restoring his ancestral seat. It passed into Historic Scotland’s care in 2000.
The castle dates essentially from the 15th century. It takes the form of a three-storey tower house. This formed the residence of the clan chief. An associated curtain wall fringed the small rock on which the castle stood, and enclosed a small courtyard in which there are ancillary buildings. These comprised a feasting hall, a chapel, a tanist’s house and a watchman’s house. Most were restored in the 20th century, the tanist’s house serving as the family home of the Macneils. A well near the postern gate is fed with fresh water from an underground seam. Outside the curtain wall, beside the original landing-place, are the foundations of the crew house, where the sailors manning their chief’s galley had their quarters.