Jelsa - Tourist guide

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Jelsa is a small town and port in a bay on the northern coast of the island of Hvar, the sunniest island of the Adriatic Sea, known for its dense vegetation and fragrant fields of lavender. On both sides of the harbor there are wooded coves ideal for relaxation and swimming. Economy is based on farming, viticulture, olive growing, fishing, shipbuilding, seafaring and tourism. Jelsa is located on the regional road running throughout the island. There are also regular ship lines with Split and Bol on the island of Brac.

Surrounded with olive groves, vineyards and Mediterranean plants, Jelsa was already being developed since the 13th century as the port of Pitve, the village 3 km in land from the sea, below Gozd. "Fons vocata Ielsa", the swamp in the vicinity, gave the name to the settlement. Jelsa is still dominated by tall poplar trees, — an unusual sight for a Dalmatian island.

The church of St. Mary was fortified in 1535 and could successfully defend the place from Turkish attack in 1571. The first houses were built around the Gothic church of St Michael at Mala banda on the northern side of the bay. Another group of houses developed around the Baroque church of St John on another rock. This church is decorated as an example of beautiful stonework, on the picturesque town square, and surrounded by the Renaissance and Baroque houses of the boat owners of Jelsa. The fortified parish church of Sts. Fabian and Sebastian was built in the 16th century. One of the Baroque altars is a work by the wood-carver Antonio Porri. The New Park features a monument to the Croatian composer A. Dobronic. In the vicinity of Jelsa are the remains of a Greek fortress called Tor, and on the locality of Crkvica the remains of an antique structure.

Jelsa has a rich tradition in tourism. The first hotel, Jadran, was built in 1911. Today Jelsa is an important tourist centre. This popular seaside resort offers various accommodation facilities like hotels, apartments and campsites. Also there are many sports and recreational opportunities. Tennis courts, tennis camp, miniature golf, boccia courts, water sports and diving school are all at your disposal. An exquisite gastronomic offer is awaiting you here; fresh seafood and famous wines of Hvar.

Every year Jelsa plays host to musical, drama and folklore events called the “Days of Antun Dobronic”. Also some other occasional cultural and entertainment programs are organized in the summer months. The squares and the local open-air cinema serve as a stage for contemporary music concerts and male harmony group performances (“klape”- autochtonous a capella singers). Hotels provide music for dancing, games and shows. There is a discotheque in the center of Jelsa. A tradititonal Wine fair is organized every year during the last week in August, when the best wines from Hvar are on display together with local gastronomic specialties.

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