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The Island of Hvar, the longest Adriatic island, is situated to the south of Brac. Its vineyards, olive groves and lavender are sustained by numerous springs, the whole surrounded by a translucent cobalt sea. It holds the record for the number of sunny days per year but there is shade for those who prefer it. A lot could be said about the cultural traditions on Hvar. The oldest relief of a ship in Europe was found here. The oldest community theatre in Europe was founded here in 1612, on one of the largest Renaissance squares. There is also the Renaissance cathedral with its original tower, rich treasury and many paintings by old masters. Several late Gothic buildings have been preserved on one of the largest squares, the most prominent among them being the unfinished palace of the Renaissance poet Petar Hektorovic. The clock tower of the Count's court and a beautiful 16th century Renaissance lodge beside it have been preserved.

Stari Grad (Old Town) on Hvar was founded in 385 BC, as the Greek colony Pharos. It is situated at the deepest end of the 6 km long bay. You can see the remains of the Greek fortifications and the fortified castle of the Renaissance poet Petar Hektorovic, with its pond and arcades. Vrboska lies at the deepest end of a protected bay. The rows of stone houses along both coasts create a harmonious architectural whole. These houses are linked by a series of bridges. There is also an imposing 16th century fortified church. Vrboska is the home of the unique Fishing Museum. Hvar is without doubt an exceptional island, both in sumrner and winter. Due to its mild winter climate and rich subtropical vegetation, it has also been called the Croatian Madeira.

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Lighthouse on a lone islet near Lastovo, an indispensable aid to sailors.

Pakleni Otoci, small, partially wooded islands with gravel and sandy beaches, beckon to naturists and the rocky sea bed is good for harpoon fishing. In the pine forest beyond there is a fortress, overlooking an exquisite botanical garden. Although the name means "Hell Islands", they are not menacing at all. The word also means a kind of tar used in shipbuilding, which may be why the islands are singled out by yachtsmen.

The Island of Solta lies opposite Split. The vegetation here is sparse, the coast steep and well indented. The largest town is Grohote in the inner part of the island. The largest port is Maslenica, with an anchorage for smaller boats and a beach with a modern hotel and campsite. The Croatian poet and humanist Marko Marulic lived in the beautiful bay of Necujam during the 15th and l6th centuries.

The Island of Vis, known for its fishermen and seafarers, beautiful nature and growing tourist potential, lies far from the mainland and its troubles. Palm trees from the Vis nursery adorn many Croatian coastal towns. The Greeks founded their first colony on Vis (named Issa) and planted the first grapevine there as early as the 4th century. A Franciscan monastery was built on the remains of the Greek and Roman theatre in the small town of Vis in the 16th century. Two churches from the 16th and 17th centuries have been preserved, as well as a number of Renaissance houses.

The Island of Bisevo with an area of 6 sq. km, is to the south-west of the Island of Vis. Many caves have been carved into its steep coast. Among these, the Blue Cave (Modra spilja) with entrances both above and below sea level, should be singled out. When the sea is calm the light diffracts and paints the interior of the cave blue, and anything below the water line, silver. The effect rivals that of the well-known cave on Capri.

The Medvidina cave is considerably larger, and has a natural monumental entrance. It is on the southern side of Bisevo. The approach corridor is 760 m long and leads onto the beach, a former habitat of the now almost extinct marine mammal, the Mediterranean monk seal.

The Vis archipelago also includes the islands of Svetac (Sveti Andrija), Jabuka, Brusnik and the islands of Palagruza.

[ Croatia - the country of a thousand islands ]