Porta Maestra is built on the foundations of a Roman villa. The mosaic which is almost two millennia old can still be seen in the basement.
When designing the hotel, a team of archaeologists, conservators and architects spent several years preserving the historical heritage and integrating it into the present-day hotel.
In the centre of our story is the town of Hvar dominated by St Stephan’s cathedral and its renaissance tower. The cathedral is located on the St Stephan’s square, the largest piazza in Dalmatia.
It is as place which has witnessed all the historical events on the island and has welcomed millions of visitors. In the centre of the piazza stands the main gate (Porta Maestra) and our story begins here, at the main gate of the medieval city walls.
Most historians have traced the history of Hvar Town back to late antiquity, that is, to 4th century AD. It was believed that a small harbour existed and then a town was developed around it. Recent archaeological findings however demonstrate that a settlement existed since prehistoric times, as far back as the 9th century BC.
While the Greek colony of Pharos was developed, an autochthon community lived in present-day Hvar. Late antiquity was the period of turmoil and economic decline of the Roman Empire, with barbarians taking more and more land from the Romans in which the secluded harbours such as Hvar flourished because sea routes were often safer than land.
When building the Porta Maestra, extensive archaeological research was conducted. The carbon dating of the basis of the mosaic which was discovered has place it at the year 89 ± 24 years. That makes it the oldest carbon dated object in the Town of Hvar. A few centuries later, around the beginning of the 3rd century a hypocaust was installed with a mosaic on top of it
It is the first floor heating system ever found in Hvar.
The research conducted when building the hotel is one of the very important pieces in the puzzle in reconstructing the late antiquity in Hvar town.
After the preservation of the archaeological site the house is now the most important monument of antique architecture in town.