INSIDE OF A RENAISSANCE VILLA OF PETAR HEKTOROVIC (STARIGRAD, ISLAND HVAR)

Today I'm taking you inside of an iconic Renaissance castle. This fortified sixteenth century summer house/villa of a well known Croatian poet Petar Hektorovic is both a wonderfully preserved and a fascinating glance into the past. I first visited this enchanting Renaissance villa when I attended a conference about Renaissance Croatian literature years ago. Naturally, I welcomed the opportunity to visit it again. There is plenty to see and enjoy here. The house itself is lovely and  the sea water fish-pool is an iconic spot. Moreover, the beautiful Renaissance garden is the perfect place to wind down. It is easy to feel like you have stepped back in time when you visit this place. 

As I already hinted, this villa is a bit like a time portal. It is so easy to imagine that you are actually in the sixteen century. There are quite a few historical inscriptions in Latin, Italian and Croatian language. This fortified villa is even more fascinating if you happen to know a thing or two about its history as I happen to. Not surprisingly, I really enjoy it here. I can feel the Latin words and proverbs coming to the tip of my tongue. I absolutely adore the Renaissance period. It is one of my favourite art periods in general. Renaissance poetry always continues to amazes me and so does architecture and literature. Croatian Renaissance poetry is such a fascinating field. I'm so fortunate to have been able to read practically all of it. I always loved reading about history so I'm always on a lookout for a good Renaissance book.  However, as wonderful as reading about history can be, seeing historical buildings is not only  a distinct pleasure but it can really allow you to get the whole picture. As they sometimes say a picture can paint a thousand words.  

For those of you who want to know more about the history of this place, here is an excerpt from wikipedia:

"Tvrdalj 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 fish-pool, enclosed by a vaulted 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. "



"In 1448, Hektor Hektorović was granted permission by the Hvar Governor (Hvarski Knez) to build on the land at Tvrdalj,[1] at the far western edge of the town of Stari Grad, right on the shore of the bay. The location was already known as Tvrdalj which translates as a fortress or castle, implying an earlier fortification on the site. The area had been the site of occupation from ancient times, as demonstrated later by remains found during the 1898 excavations for the steps of the nearby church of Sv Rocco.[2]The late 15th century and into the 16th century was a time of expansion and building in Stari Grad. In 1482, the Dominican monastery was built, and many of the noble families on the island saw Old Hvar, as it was then called, as a peaceful haven. Many eminent figures had summer palaces built, so much so that in 1553 the Venetian correspondent Giustinian described Stari Grad as having "handsome buildings and a port fit for the largest of ships. Many fine people live there."[3]Following the death of his father, Marin Hektorović, Petar Hektorović took over the building and made Tvrdalj into his summer palace using his own architectural design.[3] Although this was not his only house on the island, or even in Stari Grad, he mentioned it extensively in his will, explaining in architectural detail how to continue with the unfinished building works.[2]Petar Hektorović sited his residence directly on the waterfront, which in the 16th century was located further inland than today.[3] The square that lies in front of Tvrdalj today did not exist until the 19th century. In Hektorović's time, there was a shallow stretch of seawater right up to the entrance, allowing access by boat. His fortified palace was built on the shore near to where the baths of a Roman country villa had once stood.[2]"





"During the 1520s and 1530s, building work focused mainly on housing for travellers and the poor.[2] However, an attack on Stari Grad by the Turks in 1539 left much of the town burned and ransacked[3] and Hektorovic fled to Italy,[4] returning in 1541 to resume work.Hektorović's design for Tvrdalj was a simple layout of single story dwellings around a central courtyard. His house, kitchen and cellar opened onto the courtyard, which had a large rectangular fishpond. Above the pond was a tower, with dovecot. At the back of the property was a large walled garden. The main entry was through a baroque portal from the sea, where the inscription "OMNIUM CONDITORI" (To the Creator of the World) would greet arriving visitors.[3] A stone recess in the atrium has a hole that was used for emptying chamber pots. Carved into the stone above this simple lavatory is "SI TE NOSTI CUR SUPERBIS" (Know what thou art,then why art thy proud?).[3]On the eastern side, with its own entrance, was housing for travellers and paupers. Under the terrace of the loggia, in a small cell lived a Beguine nun.[3] A high wall surrounded the housing complex, with defensive features such as a ravelin, and an altana (rooftop loggia) with merlons.The fishpond was created as a habitat for grey mullet, with a system to ensure a fresh supply of sea water. Above this is a small tower with the dovecot for birds, and a garden with flowers and trees for land animals. Hektorović himself said that his metaphysical construction began with the fishes in the pond, symbolizing Christ, and ended with the doves, which symbolized the holy spirit.[2]Tvrdalj was a simple summer residence, with none of the ornamentation or classical statues that mark other fashionable nobles houses of the time. Its defensive architecture gives it a distinctive appearance.In 1571 Stari Grad was again attacked and Tvrdalj was set on fire by the Turks.[3] 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." Source Wikipedia.

While I was explaining the history of this castle, we got interrupted by a lady who actually lives there. As it happens, there is actually a family living there. I think I knew this but forgot in my rush to see this place again. Anyhow, the lady just asked us to close the door to our way out. We did that and took a few more photographs from the outside. Long story short, if you ever visited Stari Grad city on island Hvar, you should pay this fortified villa as well. It is an amazing historical oasis. 

That would be all for today. I hope you have enjoyed this post about Renaissance villa of writer and poet Petar Hektorovic. The centre of this fortified villa was meant to represent the world and offer sanctuary: the fish-pool for creatures of water and sea, the garden for creatures of earth and the dovecotes for the creatures of air. If you look closely at the photographs (especially the first one), you will see a cat standing next to the (build in stone) dovecots (I hope the cat hasn't eaten any birds because that would ruin the Renaissance concept of this place). This villa definitely stands out among the nobleman houses and palaces of the time. Speaking of nobleman, there are actually quite a few prominent Renaissance noble born writers from this island, but I will write more about that some other time. I'm also preparing more posts about Stari Grad but all in its due time. 

As always, thank you for reading and visiting. Have a wonderful weekend ahead!

Comments

  1. What a beautiful castle to visit! It's a shame we don;t have castles in Australia! We enjoyed visiting Edinburgh castle with the boys when we were in Scotland earlier this year!

    Hope that you are having a wonderful weekend :)

    Away From Blue

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    1. yes, I remember your posts from Scotland, they were really interesting and they sure got some wonderful castles in UK.

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  2. Wonderful photos and interesting post dear!

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  3. Hi Ivana! This Renaissance castle is a magnificent building with nice vaulted terrace. I saw a cat, he is watching you :)
    I just knew that Turkey Ottoman expanded to Croatia also. Thank you for an important history :)

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    1. yes, the cat might have been watching me.

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    2. The Ottoman empire was in war with Croatia for 500 years but they never conquered it.

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  4. What a marvellous post. I have always loved castles, that's why I love Germany and the UK, there are so many castles to see. I am partial to the Renaissaince era as well as some neoclassical. Looking forward to more posts soon. <3

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  5. Hi Ivana, a very intersting place. I love Castles and the histories around then. Amazinhg outfit.
    kisses
    Inventando com a Mamãe / Instagram  / Facebook / Pinterest

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  6. What a lovely castle full of history!

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  7. Dear Ivana, this Renaissance Villa looks stunning - especially with the beautiful water pool in the courtyard and the arches around. Also I like the pic of Stari Grad - it looks very exotic to me with the palm trees - more like a town in the near east, not in Europe. I also ilike your outfit - the trousers/leggings go very well with the boots and the dress (or skirt?). I like it!
    Have a wonderful Sunday!

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    1. Thank you Maren. It's actually a dress, but it looks like a skirt worn under the coat.

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    2. Palm trees are actually quite common in Croatia, especially in the coastal areas. The palm trees are not native to our country but they seem to do really well here, must be because the climate is so mild.

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  8. It really does look amazing! I'd love to visit some day. I love places that make you feel like you're in the past :)

    Ekaterina | Polar Bear Style

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  9. Kakvo mjesto! Oduševljena sam i pogotovo mi se sviđa što je doživljaj kao da si zaista u 16.vijeku, a ne kao da samo posjećuješ mjesto iz tog perioda. Sjajno si mi dočarala svoje utiske! Odličan post.💖

    Sweet-dreams-14.blogspot.com - novi post

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    1. hvala Anđela, stvarno je divno ovo mjesto.

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  10. Dear Ivana, I really understand that you were happy to visit this wonderful place again! And I really believed you felt like in a time portal. The building is amazing as well as the fish pool and I'm impressed how the architecture persisted over the years.
    Your outfit matches perfect to the location. It is timeless and beautiful - and so are you!
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena
    www.dressedwithsoul.com

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    1. I'm very impressed with how little has changed over the years here.

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  11. Lovely place. It really looks like time has stopped.

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  12. You always find the cutest places around dear!
    Happy weekend beautiful.

    Cats in the City

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  13. What a stunning site! I can see how it feels like a step back in time. It is so wonderful to see places like this preserved so well and still enjoyed. That is a lucky family that gets to live here. I imagine they are the caretakers.

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    1. I'm not sure are they are actual caretakers, maybe they've inherited the place by regular means, they are definitely local people.

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  14. Hi! Lovely outfit and the photos are fantastic.
    I hope you´ll visit my blog soon. Have a nice day!

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  15. Such beautiful photos! What an amazing and interesting spot!
    Julia x
    https://www.thevelvetrunway.com/

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  16. Такие красивые фото!

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  17. Someone really lives there even now?? How cool is that?
    I always love to tour these places and it's so nice you took us along.
    XOOX
    Jodie

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  18. That Renaissance castle is stunning and its history is fascinating, so thank you for the introduction and tour of the place. I love that fish-pool, and how amazing that people are still living in the castle! Have a wonderful week, Ivana xxx

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  19. What a fantastic, fascinating place this villa is, dearest Ivana! Beautiful, the photos from there - and also the photos of you! Incidentally, a few days ago, my husband and I (and some of our friends) visited in Vienna an exhibition of paintings and drawings of a contemporary of Petar Hektorović, Rennaisance artist Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528). I could well imagine how Dürer and Hektorović walk through the halls or the beautiful garden and have an animated conversation ...
    Hugs and a happy new week, Traude
    https://rostrose.blogspot.com/2019/11/freunde-kultur-genuss-in-wien.html

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    1. Thank you dear Traude. I need to google mr Albrech Durer for I sure love art.

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  20. What a great insight! I'm always amazed by ancient places and how they have survived so many centuries! Thank you for sharing!

    Elegant Duchess xx
    https://www.elegantduchess.com

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  21. I love all the historical backgrounds and places you visit, Ivana - what fascinating history it all has. Gorgeous pictures, but oops! on disturbing the person who lived there. I like that you pointed out the cat - thank you!

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  22. Thank you for sharing the great place!! I can feel like that I am visiting there now:)
    Your blog always help me to study beautiful history!
    Anyway, I could find the cat<3

    akiko
    www.akikohiramatsu.com

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  23. Wow so pretty places. It must be Great trip :) best regards

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  24. Wow!! What a fantastic place, I love it. Thank you for the history as well, it's so beautiful, I want to visit here now :)) Happy Monday lovely, i hope you have a great week ahead x

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    1. Thank you so much. Have a great week ahead too!

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  25. Love this kind of places! :)
    Thanks for sharing!


    www.luciagallegoblog.com

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  26. Wow such a stunning place - ir reminds me famous British Bath city - it must be very great trip for you.

    I am crazy about your coat here- so elegant and stylish Ivana xx

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  27. You look so great hun!
    xx- Nina
    http://www.stylingwithnina.com/

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  28. That Renaissance villa looks like my dream residence! thanks for sharing your trip (and taking to trouble to research its history, too!) xxx

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    1. Thank you Vix. I must admit that it's my dream residence too.:)

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  29. Wow this is really like a step back in time inside this Renaissance castle. To think of the history and that people used to live there is really cool. Thanks for showing us around.

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  30. What a dreamy place with so much history! Thanks for sharing, Ivana!

    -Ashley
    Le Stylo Rouge

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  31. The courtyard filled with water makes such a lovely focus point; even the water is a dreamy shade of blue. Wow! Thanks for sharing this slice of history with us, Ivana :) Have a lovely week!

    aglassofice.com x

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  32. troppo bello *_* cappottino meraviglioso *_*

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  33. hello Ivana
    I loved to know this Renaissance castle, and you even with little clothes there in Croatia, you are very elegant !!


    xoxo

    marisasclosetblog.com

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  34. What an exquisite place to visit- the villa has a wonderful serenity to it even in photos! I love the pool of water and the fish! How interesting the history is. I like Renaissance music!

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  35. It appears to be a lovely place to visit. Now I am interested in Croatian Renaissance poetry With the Turkish threat, was the poetry political? Are there good English translations?

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    1. it was political in most parts of Dalmatia, but not in Dubrovnik, because Dubrovnik had a good diplomatic relationship with everyone, including the Turks so there the poetry was very romantic and quite apolitical. I would have to look into translations, I suppose there must be some.

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