The Piazza (Pjaca), formally known as the Square of the Croatian National Revival, is Jelsa’s centrepiece. It was created by stages between the 16th and 19th centuries. It lies by the waterfront of the harbour, and charming alleyways lead away from the square up to Jelsa’s parish church of Our Lady’s Assumption. On its west side is a freshwater stream called the ‘Slatina’ which flows into the sea. In 1934 a drinking-water fountain was built in the centre of the square, which functions to this day.
The square teems with cafes, ice-cream parlours, restaurants and little shops, and is a favourite meeting place for locals and tourists alike. It’s a centre for catching up with the latest local and international news, chat and gossip.
The square is the main venue for Jelsa’s bigger events during the summer, and also during the milder parts of the winter. A large stage at the far end serves for concerts and dancing, with the auditorium taking up the widest part of the square. For many events stands are set up along the sides of the square offering drinks, food and artefacts for sale, sometimes free of charge, depending on the occasion. The square is the setting for the dramatic scene towards the end of Jelsa’s Procession as part of ‘Za Križen’, when, after walking round five villages through the night carrying a weighty Cross, the Cross-bearer and his helper run from the waterfront to where the parish priest is waiting to greet him, before completing his journey to the parish church.