Tvrdalj Castle

Stari Grad, Croatia

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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User Reviews

Tom Le (9 months ago)
The fortified summer residence of Tvrdalj belonging to the famous Croatian Renaissance poet, Petar Hektorović, with its fishpond inhabited by grey mullet and  with a dovecote above it, is the most famous building in Stari Grad on the island of Hvar. The poet was actively building it throughout his lifetime, almost obsessively, guided by an idea of the microcosm – a small, closed world in which divine creatures fish, birds, plants and humans could find a place to coexist. Tvrdalj is also a stone book since more than twenty inscriptions in Latin, Italian and Croatian are carved into the stone.
Caitriona Healy (10 months ago)
Beautiful. A hidden gem. Really easy to walk past it if you don't know it's there. Well worth €4. Even has it's own resident cat!
Amar Sijercic (10 months ago)
This is a real cute and relaxing place. There is such peace and tranquillity amongst the trees and the water. Highly recommend!
Mario Petrovic (13 months ago)
A nice little nugget of history hidden behind a facade of few houses. A villa from the 15th century poet, very nicely maintained. It is worth a visit and to boost it's visibility.
Helen Lim (15 months ago)
Our Local guide brought us to Stari Grad – one of the oldest towns in Europe and a UNESCO-Protected World Heritage Site. We visited the 16th century castle of the Croatian renaissance poet Petar Hektorović, built to defend against the Turks and the most famous building in Stari Grad. Stari Grad is charming and quaint, and located on the quieter side of Happening Hvar in Charming Croatia.
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