Hvar's Theatre, situated in the Arsenal building, is a monument of the highest national significance for the Republic of Croatia. The Theatre was built in 1612, on the first floor of the Arsenal building during the rule of venturesome Duke Petar Semitecolo. The monumental Arsenal building situated in the historical centre of the Town of Hvar is one of the most important buildings of naval architecture of its kind on the Mediterranean. The inscription on the lintel of the main entrance to the Theatre, on Belvedere – Fontika terrace, next to the north facade of the Arsenal, reads: ANNO SECVNDO PACIS MDCLXII. The year 1612, as the inscription says, was the second year of peace between the divided social strata of Hvar's Commune. By building the Theatre, Semitecolo offered to all social strata equally, a room for cultural and social events to take place, and in an inconceivably democratical manner for that period in history, he created the very first Public Theatre in Europe. In the history of theatres throughout Europe, Hvar's Theatre dating from 1612 follows immediately after Teatro Olimpico in Vicenza (1585) and Teatro all'Antica in Sabbioneta (1588). The fact of its early beginnings has insured its important role in the history of theatres in general.
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