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Hvar – Easter «Following the Cross» procession – non-material world cultural heritage
For five centuries, the inhabitants of Hvar have been celebrating Easter in a very special way, with the procession «Za Križem», («Following the Cross»).

It is a unique ceremony of particular piety and an expression of religious and cultural identity of the inhabitants of the central part of the island of Hvar, which developed from a procession first held as a sign of repentance after, in the midst of social unrest in 1510 and right before the uprising of the Hvar commoners, a small crucifix in the town of Hvar miraculously started to bleed tears.

The processions start in the night o from Maundy Thursday to Good Friday from six parochial churches of Jelsa, Pitva, Vrisnik, Svirač, Vrbanj and Vrboska, simultaneously and clockwise so that during the eight hours of the procession the crucifixes never meet, which, according to belief, would be extremely bad luck. The path leading from church to church is lit with lamps and sponges drenched in liquid paraffin, and people put candles in their windows. The processions are led by chosen cross-bearers who carry crucifixes of up to 18 kilograms, sometimes barefoot, wearing white tunics, like other members of the fraternity.

They are followed by a chosen entourage in fraternity tunics and numerous believers and pilgrims, who stop in churches and chapels of the other towns where they are met by priests, and return to their own parochial churches before the morning. The procession is exceptional for how long it lasts as 25 kilometres are crossed during the 8 hours, and for its emphatic passion contents. It is prepared and carried out by fraternities, groups of Hvar believers into whose history and lives the crucifix has made a deep mark. The central part of the procession is the 'Gospin plač' ('the Weeping of the Lady'), a religious text in 8-syllable verse from the 15th century, performed as a musical dialogue by chosen singers, the 'kantadurs'.

The «Following the Cross» procession is one of seven phenomena of Croatian cultural heritage recently put on the UNSCO World Non-Material Cultural Heritage List.

The island of Hvar is the longest and sunniest Croatian island and has been ranked by some tourist magazines as one of the 10 most beautiful islands in the world. Since the age of Antiquity it is well known for its strategic and nautical position, the richness of history, cultural and natural monuments and literature.
Thanks to its mild climate, warm winters and pleasant summers, this mid Dalmatian island is host to many visitors, travellers attracted by the luscious Mediterranean nature, rich cultural and historical tradition, unique gastronomy, amazing beaches and crystal clear sea.

The night-life and architecture of the cosmopolitan town of Hvar, the boat excursions to the Pakleni islands, the sandy beaches near Jelsa, the combination of Antiquity and modernity in Stari Grad, the paradise beaches beneath the pine tree forest of Zavala, the exotic southern slopes of the island in the towns Ivan Dolac, Sveta Nedjelja and Milna, the atmosphere of «little Venice» in Vrboska, the ride through the fields of lavender near Gdinj, Zastražišć and Bogomolje, the tranquil hidden coves around Sućuraj are only a fraction of what awaits you.

To get to the island of Hvar, you first need to arrive to Split or Drvenik south of Makarska in mid Dalmatia, from where you can take a ferry or catamaran to Stari Grad, Jelsa, Sućuraj and the town of Hvar.

During the season, international connections from Italy operate: Ancona - Hvar and Pescara - Hvar, as well as a connection along the coast from Rijeka to Dubrovnik, which stops in Hvar. The closest international airports are located in Split, Dubrovnik and Brač.

Split-Dalmatia County Tourist Board
www.dalmatia.hr

Town of Hvar Tourist Board
www.tzhvar.hr

Town of Hvar
www.hvar.hr
 
 

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