Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Hvar Arsenal Presented in Prestigious European Online Magazine

January 13, 2021 – On the occasion of receiving the prestigious recognition of the European Heritage Awards 2020, a large article about the famous Hvar Arsenal, the most important public building in Hvar, was published in the renowned European Diplomacy & Economics Online Magazine.

As reported by Branimir Tončinić, Croatian National Tourist Board Director in Austria, the publication was created due to cooperation between the CNTB Representation in Austria, the Hvar Tourist Board, and the magazine's editorial board.

The announcement states that Hvar Arsenal is the winner of the Europa Nostra award, the most prestigious European award in the field of heritage, which the European Union has been awarding since 2002. This year, the award was given to 21 projects from 15 countries, and Arsenal is the winner in the conservation category. Recognition was given for the restoration and strengthening of the load-bearing structure of the Arsenal. Given the current situation, this year's awards ceremony was held virtually for the first time.

The Arsenal building, located in the center of Hvar town, the most important port on the island, has been carefully restored and successfully transformed into a living cultural center for visitors and the local community. The Croatian Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Regional Development and European Union Funds were partners to the City of Hvar in the 30-year project of the Hvar Arsenal reconstruction, which ended in 2019.

An independent jury, made up of heritage experts from across Europe, selected the award winners, following a detailed evaluation of the nominations submitted by organizations and individuals from 30 European countries.

"This valuable revitalization project has adapted a significant building to the modern needs of the community and added a new cultural dimension to the tourism of this area. It represents a long-term effort to ensure Arsenal preservation as a site of high cultural heritage. The stratification of the 16th-century building and later 18th-century theater has been properly recognized in conservation work. Such localities are proof of international trade's long history in Europe, and their location in the port is significant, where they still play an important role as a place of connection," said the jury.

European Diplomacy & Economics is a magazine intended for professionals in diplomacy and a wider audience throughout the European Union. It covers economics and culture, is published twice a year in 10,000 copies, and is headquartered in Vienna.

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Friday, 8 May 2020

Hvar's Arsenal Wins European Heritage Award

May 8, 2020 — Hvar's Arsenal won a “Europa Nostra” award, the continent’s most prestigious prize in the heritage field, honoring the rejuvenation an unavoidable focal point in the city’s port.

One of Hvar’s enduring symbols won in the category of “conservation” for the renovation and strengthening of the Arsenal’s load-bearing structure. 

The “Europa Nostra” awards recognize successful conservation and restoration initiatives. Hvar’s Arsenal joins 21 other projects in 15 countries which also earned a “Europa Nostra”.  It’s now eligible for the Public Choice Award, decided by an online vote on the European Heritage site.

Independent juries composed of experts from across Europe chose the winners, following a detailed evaluation of applications submitted by organizations and individuals from 30 European countries.

The jury noted that “this respectful revitalization project has adapted a very significant building to the modern needs of the community and adds a new cultural dimension to the tourism of the area. The stratification of the 16th-century building and the later 18th-century theater has been properly recognized in the conservation works.”

The City of Hvar, the Ministry of Regional Development, Split County and Ministry of Culture financed the project. Split-based Spegra carried it out. The company has rehabilitated significant structures for over three decades. It has also fixed Mostar’s Old Bridge, the Bishop’s Palace in Ston, and many other recognizable historic icons in the region.

“This is a joint recognition of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, the Ministry of Culture, the Conservation Department in Split, us in Spegra,” the company’s director Berislav Borovina said. “It is proof that we have done the right thing. The world has recognized this and placed us alongside the highest quality European companies in terms of the restoration of monumental heritage.”

The Arsenal was originally a Venetian shipyard, erected in 1292 to repair and refit war galleons until the Ottomans destroyed it. Hvar’s residents built its replacement — the current stone building — in 1612.

The building needed the rejuvenation. Wear-and-tear began betraying the building’s four centuries of existence. Spegra’s work added no extra weight, creating “invisible” improvements while increasing the Arsenal’s stability.

The project took decades of effort, starting with studies and a conservation report that started in 1989, a four-year reconstruction of the load-bearing structure, as well as a lengthy renovation.

The work paused after Roman artifacts and the remains of a first-century building emerged from the ground under the Arsenal. 

“It is a very demanding facility that required a high percentage of skilled labor and top craftsmen and workers, and it is specific in its dislocation,” Borovina said. “The execution was very complex, and this is one exemplary example of modern renovation and strengthening of the structure for some future times.”

Its upstairs space was the first public theater in Europe, letting commoners peasants and aristocrats mingle.

The building reopened last year, joining a flood of restorations wrapped up on the 150th anniversary of organized tourism on Hvar. It included both the Arsenal and the theater, and the Hotel Palace Elisabeth.

This isn’t the first time Croatia’s won a Europa Nostra award. In fact, many of its landmark structures and events earned the designation over the last two decades, including the Alka of Sinj Museum and the Betina Museum for Shipbuilding.