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The island of Hvar was populated already in the prehistoric times (caves Grapceva and Po-krivenik, with painted pottery). The island was later inhabited by the Illyrians, who came into conflict with the Greek colonizers in the 4th century BC. Numerous tumuli on the island are of Illyrian origin. Similar as the islands of Korcula and Vis,

Hvar accepted the Greek settlers but was the only one that had an Ionic settlement (Pha-ros, today Stari Grad). The remains of the ancient colony include parts of walls, graves with pottery of Apulian origin and numerous inscriptions. Hvar played an important role in the Roman-Illyrian conflicts, when its rulers (Demetrije Hvaranin) tried to preserve its independence. 

In Roman times Hvar lost its earlier importance. On the collapse of the Roman Empire, Hvar came under the Byzantine rule, as well as the entire Dalmatia. In the 7th century it came under the Nerentani (Narentini), with whom it joined the Kingdom of Croatia in the 11th century. In the following centuries Hvar recognized the sovereignty of the Croatian-Hungarian ruler, the Bosnian King Tvrtko, the Split Duke Hrvoje, the Dubrovnik Republic, Venice (1278-1797, with an interruption in the period 1358-1420), France and Austria.

After the First World War, together with the entire Dalmatia, it was annexed to Croatia. In the 16th and the 17th centuries Hvar was a prominent centre of the Croatian literature (Petar Hektorovic, Hanibal Lucic). The town of Hvar and other towns and villages on the island have numerous architectural and cultural monu-ments, which bear witness to outstanding artistic traditions of the island, the economic prosperity of its population and the relations Hvar used to maintain with cultural centres of the past centuries.