On the first floor of the Arsenal is one of Hvar's treasures - the oldest municipal theatre in Europe. Built in 1612 to commemorate the peace negotiated after years of civil unrest, the theatre celebrates its 400th anniversary in 2012. The interior was renovated in 1803, and major works continued between 1888 and 1900 to bring the building into its present neo-Baroque form. In the past few years the theatre has again undergone extensive renovations.
The theatre owes its existence to Pietro Semitecolo, Venetian Rector of Hvar from 1611 - 1613, who was inspired by the few existing Italian theatres of the time, and arranged for the construction with money from the commune of Hvar. Contemporary theatres in Europe were invariably private: Hvar's was the first intended for the public of all social classes. It is now Europe's third oldest surviving theatre. Details of the 400 year anniverary celebrations will be posted on the site shortly.