The Secrets of Jelsa: Inside the Most Interesting House on Hvar

Total Croatia News

The undiscovered treasures of this island never end. Like this gem next door to my favourite restaurant. 

With the growing popularity of Total Hvar, and with many of its readers visiting the island on holiday, I get lots of requests to meet and discuss ideas. The interest is more than welcome, and I am still amazed at the global appeal of this website in just 18 months. Two particular highlights are Total Hvar being featured in the monthly newsletter of the Croatian Embassy in Washington next month, and welcoming our new tenants in Jelsa, a lovely Mexican couple who decided to relocate from Mexico City to Jelsa having fallen in love with the town through following Total Hvar. A great addition to the Jelsa community. 

I do not have the time unfortunately to meet everyone, and have to be a little bit careful in who I agree to meet, with time an issue. I learned this last year when one Italian was particularly insistent we should meet, in Milna where he was staying. He gave the impression the reason was urgent and so I changed my schedule to meet him.

“Is Eric Claption still here?”


“Oh no. My wife will be so disappointed. Are there any other celebrities here?”


“Oh that is not good news. Thank you anyway.” 

Yesterday was different, and there were two high quality and productive meetings. The first was a request to meet from a diplomat from the French Embassy in Zagreb, who travelled to the diplomatic capital of the Total Hvar office at Cafe Splendid from Hvar to discuss some future projects. His connections with and knowledge of funds and French wine regions, as well as his understanding of the options for technical assistance on creating, for example, a wine road, were fascinating, things we will be following up shortly. 

Next up at The Office was a young chap called Max, very engaging and fluent in English and from the island. Indeed his ancestors included the great Niko Duboković, whose statue adorns the park on the waterfront. A big fan of the blog, Max wanted to discuss certain projects and then invited me to have a look around the family house, where Niko was born. 

I had always wondered what was inside the house which adjoins Me and Mrs Jones in Jelsa, my favourite restaurant on the island, and one I will be forced to spend an afternoon in tomorrow eating great food and drinking fine wine at the confirmations of three of the extended family’s children. A tough life, but someone has to do it. I had no idea what treasures lay beyond.

A living museum and testament to the remarkable life of Jelsa’s most famous son, a combination of treasures from round the world, an impressive library (did not see my Hvar guidebook in there though…), private chapel, extensive terraced gardens, local artefacts and pictures, pictures, pictures of a Jelsa in times gone by.  

I will be back to take a closer look with a better camera (and cameraman…) to do the property justice, but there were so many original and authentic fixtures and fittings, so expensively constructed, that one could not help but wonder at the majesty and importance of Jelsa in a former era.  

And of course, with the launch of our Hvar wine tourism initiative, I could not help but wonder how we could incorporate the house into the project… It will be interesting to discuss with the family to see what options do exist, as it would be a fabulous addition both to the history and the wine experience.  

There were some great photos and some very intriguiging old maps of the island, including one which had Jelsa spelt Gelsa.  

The terraced gardens were equally impressive, with central steps leading to spectacular views over the old town. The garden tour included a visit to a crater from a bomb dropped by the British (bloody Brits…). An enchanting – and spacious – addition.  

A gorgeous welcoming courtyard right next to Me and Mrs Jones. I am sure restaurant owner Josipa, with whom we dined afterwards, has at least one eye on the place…  

And the first row views of the old town and catamaran are pretty hard to beat.  

The star performer however was the private chapel at the back of the house, which must surely be one of the smallest on the island, Niko Duboković’s private chapel. Among the many fascinating items on the walls of the house was the confirmation of approval of the chapel from Pope Pius – the light was too bad for the camera. We will revisit. Croatian readers can learn more about the pre-eminent Duboković family and their part in the history of Hvar Island, especially Jelsa, on the website dedicated to them, which is the work of Lukrecija Benković Duboković, Max’s aunt. 

Thanks to Max and family for your generosity in sharing this fantastic treasure. Is it really so crazy to think Jelsa can have high quality tourism based on its wine, gastro and heritage when there are treasures like this waiting to be discovered?


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