In the heart of Hvar Island, in the lowlands underneath the highest island peak - St. Nikola / 626m - there lays the small village of Svirče. The legend says it got its name from the way the first settlers – shepherds from Vrbanj – arrived there.
They came while singing and playing music and they stayed for good. The word Svirče is a derivative of a word "svirati" meaning "to play music" in Croatian language. Today’s Svirče is a lively village of some 500 inhabitants with their specific life dynamics.
Lets start with the appearance of the place. The parish church of St. Mary Magdalene dominates the village; it is a rather unique church since none of the other churches on Hvar Island have a central dome and a floor plan. It was built on the grounds of an older 18th century church and next to the 19th century cemetery that today holds the status of a World Heritage Monument.
The church of Sv. Mary on the Pjaca (the main square in Svirče) was adopted from the village loggia in 1820. And in the Makjanić house you can find a very interesting collection of sculptures and reliefs in wood, done by the self-taught sculptor Josip Makjanić (1837-1929).
Old stone houses with their stone paved floors, paths and tiny bridges that connect them are especially charming. The nature around, numerous vineyards and olive groves, add even more to the rustic ambiance of this quiet village.
People from Svirče were growing vines, olives and lavender since their arrival. Nowadays, cultivation and processing of those crops has been brought to a whole new level since diligence and motivation of Svirče people is unbelievable. Some of the best wines are made in Svirče (PZ Svirče, Vina Carić, Vina Plančić) and excellent olive oil is made on the spot in modernized mill of Božić family. It would be such a pity to leave Svirče without treating yourself with those sumptuous flavors of local wines and olive oil.
When talking about Svirče in context of wine we mustn’t forget to mention Ivan Dolac and Sv. Nedjelja – two small places on the south side of the island that were inhabited by people from Svirče. Those places were almost the necessity at the time of their settling and ingenious Svirče people started building their leisure houses there so they didn’t have to travel far back home after a hard days work. There were no motor vehicles back then and the distance from the vineyards to the village was fairly large.
South side vineyards are on a very rugged terrain and the soil is far from easy to cultivate, but at the same time the abundance of sunshine year around does its magic. The results of that combination are the best wines you can get on the island, plavac mali variety wines, such as Ivan Dolac and Ivan Dolac barrique (P.Z. Svirče); Ivan Dolac (Vujnović); Zlatan Plavac Grand Cru (Plenković); Plavac Mali barrique (Tomić); Medvid and Medvjedica (Duboković); Plovac Ploški and Plovac Ploški barrique (Carić). These wines have won numerous awards worldwide.
While Sv. Nedjelja became a separated village, Ivan Dolac is still a place where people from Svirče have their leisure houses. Tourism is an important branch of industry on the south side of the island so most inhabitants of Svirče split their time between Svirče and Ivan Dolac during warmer months of the year. That created a very relaxing and meditative atmosphere inside the village. In those times all you can hear is the sound of crickets or bicycle bells of curious cyclists trying out one of the most beautiful Adriatic bicycle routes that runs through Svirče.
A small grocery store where you can get basic supplies is located in the village as well as café-bar and a restaurant/pizza place called "Nona". If you are in a need of a bank, post office, pharmacy or a doctor’s office, you can find all that in towns close by. The closest major towns are Jelsa, Vrboska and Stari Grad (4-5 kilometers), and the town of Hvar is 25-minute drive away.
Svirče is the only place on the island where local population is not in decline. On the contrary, they live rather prosperous. The main reason for that is because young people from Svirče often return to their hometown once they finish schools. They come back so they can live and work in their village.