To understand the importance of Spanish fortress in Hvar, as its called today, one most look at its presence on the hill overlooking town Hvar throughout the centuries. So far in fact that we venture deep in the years B.C.
The northern slopes of the hill above todays Hvar town were settled, judging by the pottery found on the location, from the eight century B.C. The pottery remains suggest not only that it was settled but that there were long distance trade routes established.
The first real settlement of the northern slopes came with Illyrians who, in order to protect the fertile fields and their settlement below constructed a defensive citadel somewhere around 1,000 and 500 B.C.
After the Illyrians came Greeks and then came the Romans. All of them have made some constructions and improvements on the defensive fort above. But it was not until the Venetians came that the fortress as we see today was built.
In the early 13th century the town requested protection from the Venetians who in order to protect the strategic port ordered that the town be enclosed by the walls and that new fortress is built to overlook the sea for potential danger and ultimately protect its citizens from it.
That danger arrived in the form of the Turks who invaded the town in 1571. They have burned almost the entire town below but the citizens were saved as they managed to find shelter withing the walls of the fortress.
As the town was burned and completely devastated, the freak accident occurred in the 1579 when the lightning struck the gunpowder store within the fortress and the resulting explosion almost completely destroyed the fortress and has done serious damage on the recuperating town below.
It was time to rebuilt everything from the ground up once again. The rebuilt of the fortress and the town below took place and what you see today, regarding the fortress and the majority of the stone palaces, houses and public buildings as you walk the streets of Hvar town today, dates back to this period.
Even though the fortress throughout the centuries had the one main purpose of defending the town and its citizens, todays role of the Spanish fortress is much more different and is much more peaceful.
As you navigate the city stairs and turns on your way up to the Spanish fortress and once you stand at its walls you will understand why this defensive structure was so important for the countless generations of inhabitants of this region.
You will have entire Hvar on your palm, you will see the entire archipelago of 16 islands stretching from Hvar bay to the west, and on a clear day (which are many as Hvar is the sunniest island in Croatia) you will see all the way to island Vis far on the horizon. This was the clear strategical advantage for the people in the past and it is clear strategic advantage for people living in the Hvar today.
This you can experience as you look into the Hvar brochures, postcards of Croatia and countless selfies being done on the Fortica fortress with the unparalleled view stretching down below. It is a true landmark of Hvar town and everyone who goes there states that it is definitively worth it.