Travel Guide to Stari Grad, Croatia: the 2,400 Years Old Town
Stari Grad on island Hvar is older than Hvar town and one of the oldest in Croatia. This old town known as Pharos (Faros), founded in 385 BC by the Greek settlers from the island of Paros.
After the Greeks in 219 BC, the town was conquered by the Romans (Roman Faria) and later Slavs settled the town and it became the capital of the island until 1278. In this year the locals chose to put themselves under the protection of the Venetian Republic.
Faros has a specific position enclosed on the one side with the land and lavender and vineyards fields , and on the other side protected by the sea. It’s situated at the end of the 5 miles long bay.
Stari Grad Attractions
One of the best way to enjoy the charm of this old town, is to take a stroll through the old streets, particularly through Srednja Street (Middle) following the way to the old church built in the 5th century, a twin basilica with a baptistry dedicated to St Mary and St John.
Pharos highlight is Tvrdalj, the poet Petar Hektorovic’s 16th century fortified castle with fish pond that reflects the poet’s love for fish and fishermen life. His poem “Fishing and Fisherman’s Complaints (1555) is one of the most important literary texts in the Croatian language of the 16th century.
Tvrdalj is a well-preserved Renaissance building and one of the most significant attractions of Hvar island.
Another highlight is the old Dominican monastery, founded in 1482, damaged by the Turks and later fortified with a tower. From 2008 Stari Grad Plain, an agricultural landscape has become the UNESCO Heritage. Why is it so important this plain?
This agricultural landscape was set up by the ancient Greek colonists in the 4th century BC, and remains still in use. The plain is generally still in its original form. The ancient layout has been preserved by careful maintenance of the stone walls over 24 centuries, along with the stone shelters (known locally as trims).
This unique plain is the only place where you can see the demonstration of the comprehensive agriculture system as used by the ancient Greeks and still in its original state.
How to get here?
Pharos has very good ferries connections with Split, the capital of Dalmatia. Although the ferry port is a couple of miles out of the town, most of the visitors just rush through this town on the way to Hvar town.
If you take my advice , don’t rush so fast through this place as one the best places for your holidays on Hvar island.
From Split the car ferry connects Pharos by Jadrolinija Line 635 running all the year around, in high season (July-August) with seven daily crossings. The ferry takes 120 minutes from Split.
Stari Grad is the only ferry port that connects Hvar island with Italian port of Ancona. This is a only seasonal line, operating in period June/September.
The beaches and where to stay
There are many beaches and caves on each side of Stari Grad Bay. One of the largest bays is Tiha, located on the northern side. Tiha is a perfect anchoring point as it is safe, and sheltered from all winds (the name Tiha means (silent or calm).
Another bay is Zavala a smaller one, but equally calm, with plenty of anchoring spots. This bay has some small caves with free nudist beaches.
The other side (south side) of Pharos bay is more wind with same beautiful pebble beaches like Gracisce and the only sandy beach Maslinica. Here you can find more information about Hvar island beaches!
Closer to the town on the southern side, the most hotels have their own beaches, like hotel Arcada, 3 stars. Pharos offers a comfortable private accommodation, apartments, hostels and villas.
Although , this old town (it’s not my opinion) can’t compete with the stylish architecture and fame of Hvar town, it has a lot to offer.