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.

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Founded: 15th century
Category: Castles and fortifications in Croatia

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