2019 is going to be a great year for the heritage of Hvar Town. No less than three of its giants are set to reopen to the public after renovation: the oldest public theatre in Europe, the 13th-century Arsenal one floor below the theatre, and the first 5-star hotel on the island, Hotel Palace Elisabeth, hvar heritage hotel.
All three have played a major part in the history of the town, and all three are set to play an important role in its future. With two outstanding public spaces such as the theatre and the Arsenal reopening, the possibilities for quality cultural events on Hvar are enticing indeed.
But so too is the opening of the Palace Elisabeth. Part of the Suncani Hvar Hotels group, the hotel has been upgraded from its previous life as 2-star Hotel Palace, to be the first 5-star hotel on the island. According to the Suncani Hvar website:
Palace Elisabeth is the first full-service 5-star heritage hotel situated in the heart of Hvar, directly above the city hall overlooking the main square. It is located in one of the key places in the city and is considered a historic landmark with stunning Venetian and Austrian architectural details. The history of the palace dates back to the 13th century and in 1899 it was rebuilt under the name Spa Hotel Empress Elisabeth; the famous Austrian Empress Sisi who was known for her exceptional travelling lifestyle.
Venetian / Austrian architecture
The history of the hotel dates back to the 13th century, with the first building a Duke’s palace built during Venetian rule, which included four towers. The eastern tower was converted into a clock tower. Having been burned down, it was rebuilt in the 16th century. The opening of the Hvar Health Society in 1868, the oldest organised tourism in Europe, which celebrated 150 years on Hvar last year, was the next intervention in the building’s history, and it was converted into the Spa Hotel Empress Elisabeth, after its main imperial sponsor, whose name returns to the hotel in 2019. A quick look at the astonishing architectural detail shows many historic Venetian and Austrian influences.
At the front of the hotel is the City Loggia, one of Hvar’s most iconic and historic buildings. Construction began in the 15th century and was completed in the 16th, before the Ottoman attack devastated much of the town, including the Loggia. It was fully restored, and it has served a variety of functions during its 500-year existence, from Venetian courthouse and public auction house to spa salon, cafe, reading room, dance hall, exhibition hall, and the meeting place for the town council. The level of historical detail is plain to see, and the upgrading of Palace Elisabeth to a luxury heritage hotel will only add to this. The miniature obelisks were created by the Late Renaissance master, Tripun Bokanic, in the 17th century.
The look of the rooms / suites
There will be 45 luxury rooms and suites, with unique design and fantastic views out to the main square and waterfront, where the emphasis will be on the historic nature of the building. More details to follow.
The views from Hotel Palace Elisabeth are exceptional. Here is what you can expect at the hotel’s restaurant, San Marco. Apart from an excellent view of the exclusive waterfront and Pakleni Islands, included in the view is Europe’s oldest public theatre, the 13th century Arsenal and the largest public square in Dalmatia. Not a bad heritage collection, and what better place to have a pre-theatre cocktail before a performance in the 1612 theatre than in the hotel where organised tourism in Europe began?
Public hotel spaces
There will be a big emphasis on the heritage of Hvar in the public hotel spaces. I have seen some preliminary sketches, and they look VERY nice indeed. Once I have something more concrete, I will publish them. But it is, I think, what Hvar has been missing. A luxury hotel with an emphasis on the tradition, history and heritage of this lovely town. I for one am very excited and look forward to the opening this summer. You can track progress as Suncani Hvar updates their dedicated page for Palace Elisabeth.