Galešnik: Relics of a Late Antique Fort
Up on a plateau in the hills above Jelsa, at a height of 210 m above sea level, are the remains of a Late Antique fort called Galešnik, also known as the Fortress Town (Tvrđava Grad’). In the Hvar Statute of 1331, written in Latin, it was called ‘Castrum vetus, quod vocatur Galicnich’ (‘An old fort which they call Galicnich’). According to Hvar humanist, Dominican Vicko Pribojević, writing during the first half of the 16th century, the fort was still preserved in its original form at that time.
For a long time the fort was considered to be Medieval, but more recent research has shown that it dates from the 6th century, in Late Antiquity, with no signs found (at least not as yet) of older layers under the existing ones. A short Late Antique inscription found near the fort lent weight to the theory that Galešnik and Gradina, by the sea on the outskirts of Jelsa, were founded at about the same time, probably during the reign of the Roman Emperor Justinian.
The most visible remnant of the fort today is a partly preserved square building with an area of some 40 m2. The site is irregular in shape, and surrounded by walls which extend for 80 m, enclosing an area of 1520 m2. The walls were built to a height of 4 m, thickness 50 – 60 cm, with irregular stones arranged in regular layers and filled in with ample grouting. At intervals along the walls there are recesses for stone supports. In the north-western part of the site are the remains of the foundations of a building, which would presumably have housed the soldiers billeted there. At a lower level there are remnants of a rectangular water tank lined with hydraulic lime, with parts of a barrel vault still evident.
The fort is a Protected Cultural Asset of the Republic of Croatia.
Galešnik can only be reached on foot. It is quite a long way, so make sure you have water with you, and suitable clothing to protect you from the sun, if the weather is warm. There is a marked pathway leading uphill from the Church of Our Lady of Health. You need to be fit, as the way becomes quite steep as you go up. Quite a long way up, the path divides, with signs pointing the way left to Galešnik. This leads you into a wide cobbled roadway as you get nearer to Galešnik, which makes for easier walking.
The views once you get there are spectacular, looking across to Brač and the mainland, a rich reward at the end of the hike!