The end of the 17th century was a dark time for the island of Šolta and the surrounding area. The threat of the Ottoman Empire loomed in the east, and from the south swarms of raiding pirates harassed the islands and coastline. And then, in these dark times, one family helped bring light to the island.
In 1703, three brothers from the Marchi family, one of the Venetian Republic’s noble families, were granted permission to build a castle on Šolta. The castle would serve to help protect the area from the threats it faced, and did just that after being constructed in 1708.
But, the real value of what the Marchi family brought to the island was their vision, science, art, and culture — the light, dawning from the European Enlightenment. For example, the Marchesi Library contained more than 2700 valuable volumes in its collection. Volumes that Ivan Petar Marchi personally chose during his visits to Venice and other European capitals. Count Ivan Petar was also the founder of the Illyrian Academy, whose aim was to nurture and develop the Croatian language, while the charitable institution Martinis Marchi offered free education to the poor in Split.
Today, the Marchi Castle and Family House hosts the Martinis Marchi Heritage Hotel, which continues to reflect the enlightened thinking of the Marchi noble family. Peace and light have always been welcome here, as evidenced by the skylights on the roofs and the spacious, well-lit, sunny courtyard. And The Marchi’s enlightened legacy still endures. Today, the library is full of new books and knowledge, while the greatest names of contemporary literature visit the hotel, ready to discuss art and literature. The hotel remains a bright place of light.
Contrasting with the hotel’s legacy of progress and enlightenment, is the island’s untouched and unspoiled nature, such as the beautiful Maslinica cove. Šolta, and the surrounding islands feel as if they have been preserved in amber, offering guests a glimpse into history.
Though Šolta remains one of the most untouched places in Dalmatia, and is full of its own, beautiful surprises, such as the island’s hidden, completely private coves whose existence are only known to locals. And just as the island is a contrast of the Marchi’s enlightened legacy, preserved traditions and nature, so to is the island’s cuisine.
And today, the island hangs in its own harmonious balance of rich simplicity, light and enlightenment, progress and tradition
Šolta and Martinis Marchi Heritage Hotel, are a place of a visionary legacy that lights the way for others.
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