Stari Grad Plain

Stari Grad Plain


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The Stari Grad Plain is a prime example of ancient Greek agricultural practices and organisation dating back to the Greek colony of Pharos.

Inhabited by Ionian Greeks in the 4th century BC, the Stari Grad Plain became an important farming landscape, where mainly grapes and olives were grown. Remarkably, the land has continued to serve these purposes for centuries and still does so today.

In 2008, the Stari Grad Plain was added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites. Amongst the reasons for its inclusion was the excellent state of preservation of its “chora”, geometrical shaped plots each enclosed by stone walls. These agricultural practices – ways of splitting or organising the land – were an important method used by the ancient Greeks to parcel up land in the course of farming.

Other aspects of the Greek town are also visible including the ruins of fortifications and some houses.

It is worth noting that, under the Romans in around the 2nd century BC, the port of Pharia became an important military base.


What You Need to Know About Croatian Wine

Just a stone’s throw from Italy across the Adriatic Sea, Croatia has been producing wine for more than 2,400 years. Its coastal wine regions and islands have harbored vineyards since the Illyrians first planted vines there during the Bronze Age, and a long, rich viticultural history led to the birth of hundreds of native varieties.

Following the devastation of phylloxera, which reached Croatia’s vineyards in the early 20th century, only 130 indigenous varieties remain, most planted in pocket-sized parcels in small family vineyards. Approximately 40 of these native varieties are used in commercial production alongside a dozen international varieties spread across Croatia’s 20,700 hectares of vineyards.

Much of Croatia’s wine production of 69 million liters stays within the domestic market—Croatia consumes an impressive 46.9 liters per capita annually, according to a 2014 report by the Wine Institute . However, since Croatian independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991, and the country’s entrance into the EU in 2013, the wine industry has become more organized and exports are multiplying.

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“We’ve seen a great increase in interest in Croatian wines from consumers—and also the critics and buyers,” says Frank Dietrich, who has been importing Croatian wines for more than 13 years through his San Francisco–based company Blue Danube Wine . “We now have over 40 labels of Croatian wine and get many requests from consumers and restaurants around the country.”

The enthusiasm for Croatian wines reflects a growing interest in Central and Eastern European wines generally but also a personal connection as Croatia cements its position as one of Europe’s most popular vacation destinations. In 2018 alone, Croatia welcomed more than 20 million tourists, according to the Croatian Tourist Board , a number Dietrich credits with heightened attention to the wines. “The new interest in Croatian wines is also fueled by the growing number of Americans who are encountering these wines there as tourists,” he says, “which explains why the more popular vacation destinations of Istria and Dalmatia are attracting more interest than continental Croatia.”

Harvest in Stari Grad Plain. Photo courtesy of Around the World in 80 Harvests.


1. Stećci – Medieval Tombstones Graveyards

The newest addition to the list is the Stećci, the Medieval Tombstones Graveyards, which are also found in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro & Serbia. There are 30 sites located in four countries.

So what is Stećci? They are cemeteries and regionally distinctive medieval tombstones. They date back to the 12 th century and are carved from limestone. The Stećci feature a broad range of decorative motifs and inscriptions that represent iconographic continuities within medieval Europe and locally distinctive traditions.

Why Visit The Stećci?

In short, the Stećci are a tremendously important part of the local Balkan culture. The oldest ones dating to the 1100s, these monolithic tombstones are utterly unique in the world, only found in this relatively small corner of Europe (although they are located in four different countries).

They are so special because all three medieval Christian faiths used this type of tombstone in the region: the Orthodox and Catholic Churches and the Church of Bosnia. On top of that, their sheer volume—more than 70,000 of them—sets them apart from all other historical burial monuments in Europe as well. They’re an intrinsic part of the Croatian heritage and culture.


Find Your Way

A sublime hideaway enveloped in rich history, untouched nature, culinary arts, and cultural heritage, Maslina Resort is located in the stunning Maslinica Bay on Hvar Island in Croatia. Hvar and the surrounding Pakleni Islands Archipelago lie in the northeast Mediterranean basin, located just a short flight from most mainland European cities. Maslina Resort stretches across two hectares of lush pine forest with the crystalline Adriatic Sea at your fingertips. A 15-minute stroll along the coast leads you to the UNESCO-protected town of Stari Grad, which is one of the oldest towns in the Eastern Adriatic.

The closest local and international airports to Hvar island are Split, Dubrovnik, and Brac. There is also a helipad on the island, just 1.5 kilometers from Maslina Resort.

Private speed boats are available to transfer guests from Split Airport to Maslina Resort in only 45 minutes. From Split Airport, the Split Ferry Terminal is reachable by bus, taxi, or arranged private transfer. The ferry takes approximately two hours from the city center of Split to Stari Grad Port on Hvar Island, which is just a short walk from Maslina Resort. Alternatively, the catamaran takes approximately one hour to the island. Upon request, complimentary pick-up from Stari Grad Port is available. The Maslina team can assist you with a private speed boat transfer from Split city-center (45 minutes), Dubrovnik (3.5 hours), or Brac (25 minutes).


Off the beaten track: Stari Grad Plain on the island of Hvar

We like to show our guests important ancient sites they would not find, or find difficult to engage with and to appreciate properly, by themselves. One of those sites is Stari Grad Plain on the island of Hvar in Croatia. It is a unique place, of immense historic relevance, and it is still rarely noticed or visited, in spite of having been a UNESCO-listed World Heritage site since 2008. We give it the attention it deserves on Walking and Cruising Southern Dalmatia, a tour that engages with the history and the landscape of the region in a unique way.

Stari Grad Plain, with the island of Brač in the background, as seen from the southeast.

What? Where? A very old town.

The port of Stari Grad, ancient Pharos, as it looks now.

If you make your way to the island of Hvar off Croatia's Dalmatian Coast, you will most likely see the town of Hvar. It is interesting, has some good examples of Venetian architecture, and much else to see - and it is buzzing with party life during summer and virtually dead in winter. That's all fine and fun, but there is more to the island. Only 13 kilometres (or 8 miles) away from Hvar Town (as the crow flies) is Stari Grad, its name meaning 'old city'. Stari Grad is a beautiful and tranquil town, much less affected by mass tourism, with a visibly medieval core, set at the head of a long and sheltered inlet penetrating the island's northern coast. It is also a very, very old settlement.

Stari Grad is literally the 'old city', the town that already existed when the Venetians founded what is now Hvar Town, back in the 13th century. Its origins are actually 17 centuries earlier, in the fourth century BC, when Hvar was colonised by Greek settlers from the Aegean Greek island of Paros. They founded a small city and called it Pharos, the origin of the island's modern name, Hvar. The foundation is recorded by the Greek historian Diodorus, who places it in the year 384 BC and notes that the Parians were assisted by the Syracusan tyrant Dionysios, as he was hoping to increase his influence over the Adriatic. Stari Grad has not seen much excavation so far, but the little work that's been done reveals segments of a walled Greek town and its Roman continuation and is presented in no less than three local museums.

. and its field system

Bucolic: Peter Sommer at work in one of the ancient lanes of Stari Grad Plain, while some of its modern inhabitants pass by.

As a small Greek polis, or city-state, Stari Grad is a rarity in Croatia, but not quite unique: the nearby island of Vis has more extensive urban remains, and Greek towns are known to have existed at Dubrovnik, Trogir, Zadar, perhaps also on Korčula. What is truly unique about Stari Grad is Stari Grad Plain, the flat plain just east of the town. It is peaceful, bucolic, beautiful in the most modest sense: dirt tracks, drystone walls, fields of olive trees, vines and other crops, farmers working those fields - a living rural landscape. But a closer look at it reveals more: the fields here are arranged in a (near-)perfectly rectilinear grid, separated by walls, streets and/or lanes. The whole plain is traversed by a series of arrow-straight pathways and walls, set at right angles. Here and there, a path and adjacent wall may curve a little, but the overall grid is clear and consistent, and it creates large field areas of a set size: 181 by 905m (or 594 by 2,969 ft). Overall, the field system encompasses 75 such units, covering the whole plain, an overall area of about 6 by 3.5 kilometres (3.7 by 2.2 miles). It appears that the individual large units, each measuring 16.38 hectares (40.48 acres) were probably subdivided into five squares each of 181 by 181m (594 by 594 ft), or 3.28 hectares (8.1 acres), a realistic area to be tended by a single family and their slaves or staff. Better than any description of shapes and measurements is an aerial view of the Plain. Most conveniently, Google offers just that:

When first noted, this field system was suspected to be an example of centuriation, the Roman habit of subdividing agricultural land in conquered territories into regular parcels to be distributed to army veterans in lieu of a pension. Examples of this are visible in various landscapes of the Mediterranean, dating from the 2nd century BC onwards - but the Roman system is invariably based on land units that are square. Moreover, the 181m base unit used at Stari Grad is conspicuously similar to the stadion, the principal Greek base unit for long distances, which varies regionally, but is often equivalent to about 180m (based on the 176m stadium at Olympia, ascribed by tradition to the mythical hero Herakles/Hercules). Careful study of Stari Grad Plain, comparison with other areas and limited excavations have revealed the astonishing truth: the field system of Stari Grad Plain, in use to this day, is the parcelling of land undertaken at the point of the foundation of the Greek city of Pharos in 384 BC. Its modern Croatian farmers walk the same tracks, respect the same boundaries that were established then - to a considerable extent they also grow the same crops and thus follow the same annual calendar that was introduced here over 2,400 years ago. Apparently, the Greek system was so well thought-out and appropriate to the land's potential that it never required major changes in all those years. Moreover, settlement and agricultural practice in the area must have been so stable over the millennia that the system never fell out of use.

How to see it

Peter exploring an ancient olive press at the Roman villa of Kupinovic in the southwestern part of Stari Grad Plain.

Visiting the Stari Grad Plain is a bit of a conundrum for us. Although we are looking at one of the most astonishing cases of continuity on any of our tours, and at one of the most extensive ancient monuments in the world, it is rather like the story of great-grandpa's axe: it's been in the family for over a hundred years, but the handle has been replaced a few times and so has the blade - no individual part is actually as old as the whole thing, but the whole thing has been around and has been used for all that time: that's exactly why every part of it has been renewed whenever necessary. The field walls and pathways and the fields themselves that define Stari Grad Plain all have an appropriate air of age to them, but we should not assume that any individual feature we see among the fields is actually 2,401 years old (I am writing this in 2018). It is possible that the occasional wall goes back that far, or - more likely - the occasional cobbled surface of a pathway. But that is not the point - it is the overall arrangement and alignment of the fields that make Stari Grad Plain so unusual and so significant. There's another problem: the plain is flat. There are no easily accessible vantage points to see all of it and to appreciate the field system - but we have found one that we can use. That said, it is certainly recommended to also look at aerial pictures, such as the one, courtesy of Google, above.

Vines near the centre of Stari Grad Plain.

So, the main monument at Stari Grad Plain is very real, but nearly intangible: its most astonishing reality is that today's farmers follow in footsteps so old. The paths they walk and the daily, monthly and annual rhythms they follow were established in this very spot nearly a hundred generations ago, by people who spoke a different language, had different names and worshipped different powers. The best place to appreciate all this might be the omphalos, or navel, the central point, nearly in the middle of the plain, from which the surveying and laying-out of the field system must have started. How do we know this? Because nobody's perfect: although Greek surveying techniques, using an instrument known as the Roman groma (one of many Roman 'loans' from the Greeks) was quite precise, it was not utterly so. The Stari Grad field system has slight irregularities, basically surveying errors, and they allow us to trace back where it must have begun. Ever logical and practical, the settlers chose a central spot with visibility across virtually all of the plain. Close to it is a modern airfield, perhaps the only example worldwide of a runway that had its orientation defined in the 4th century BC!

The boundary stone of Mathios, from Stari Grad Plain.

Artefacts of the past

Another key monument is an inscribed boundary stone, perhaps of 4th or 3rd century BC date, simply stating "Oros Mathios Pytheo", meaning "border [of the land of] Mathios [,son of] Pytheas". It is now in the museum of the Dominican Friary in Stari Grad Town. The existence of such a named definition of ownership is in itself typical of Greek lands, and perhaps a reflection of the common conflicts or disagreements that might arise within such an agricultural community. Of similar significance is the tombstone of a Greek lady named Selino, found in the Plain. A third important inscription records a psephismos, a redistribution of lands after the Roman conquest of Pharos/Hvar, a little before 200 BC.

Grouped around the plain are a few definitely Greek monuments, namely three watchtowers, probably a defence system for Pharos and its hinterland - we have good historic evidence for conflict between the Greek settlers and the local Dalmatian natives, especially in the early years of Pharos. Diodorus Siculus reports that in 383 BC, the local Illyrian tribesmen, installed in a strong fortification on the island and resenting their new Greek neighbours, called on local allies to drive them out, but were defeated in the first recorded naval battle in the Adriatic. Eventually, they appear to have settled into some kind of coexistence, presumably based on mutual trade.

Probably recent, but timeless: a corbelled stone shelter or hut near the centre of Stari Grad Plain.

There are other cultural artefacts in Stari Grad Plain. Here and there, excavations have revealed parts of Roman villae or farmsteads, indicating the smooth continuity from Greek to Roman usage of the land, perhaps even by the same families, after the Romans conquered Hvar/Pharos in 218 BC. A number of corbelled huts, temporary shelters for herders and farmers, are literally timeless. They are such simple structures that we cannot attempt to date them, they are as likely to be from recent centuries as they might be from deep antiquity. There are also a few churches, none of them strikingly old, but some including carvings that may go back to the late first millennium AD, when the new Slavic settlers of Dalmatia were gradually converted to Christianity. There are a few abandoned villages, last inhabited in the mid-20th century, adding atmosphere to the place. The keen observer will find fragments of pottery all over the plain, bits of tiles, storage vessels and transport vessels, dating from the entire period of its use, from the Greek pioneers to the late 20th century, until the advent of plastic deprived our material culture record of such durable and attractive remains of day-to-day life. Standing among the fields of Stari Grad Plain, it takes very little imagination to envisage how they were used and what they looked like fifty years ago, or a hundred, or a thousand, or more.

Exploring the foundations of the Greek watchtower at Maslinovik, overlooking Stari Grad Plain.

Stari Grad Plain is a near-unique monument, and a very extensive one. There is an exhibit and information centre devoted to the Plain in Stari Grad Town, complementing its two archaeological collections, and we recommend all of them highly. The best way, however, to appreciate the Plain and engage with it is to walk through it - that's what we do on our Walking and Cruising Southern Dalmatia tour. Another form of engagement is to go to one of the lovely konobas, the traditional Dalmatian wine-and-food places, and consume the Plain's very produce, hosted by - and perhaps conversing with - the very people that maintain it. You can find a few of them scattered within the Plain, and some more in the villages surrounding it. We'll show you our favourite one on our Gastronomic Cruise in Southern Dalmatia.

Soapbox: come and see Stari Grad Plain!

A simple relief of a boar, or maybe a bear, or perhaps a dog, probably from the earlier Middle Ages, above the entrance to the chapel of Saint Helena in Stari Grad Plain.

Let me add a personal note: if you are visiting Hvar and even if you have no specific intention to do so with Peter Sommer Travels, please consider visiting Stari Grad Plain - you will not regret it. In winter, there is a crisp clarity to the scenery and farmers are busy pruning their vines in spring, wild flowers make some the fields a mosaic of colour and the whole place smells of new beginnings in summer, the stupendous sunshine of the Dalmatian Coast bathes the Plain in brightness and the buzzing of bees, replaced by a balmy early evening calm when time seems to stop and the local wine beckons and in autumn there is first the grape harvest, the most active time in the Plain, and then a new game of colours, led and easily won by the grapevines in their reds and yellows.

A sherd of a 4th century BC Attic (?) red-figure vase showing a lady carrying a decorated plate. Shown in Stari Grad's museum, it illustrates the contacts between Pharos and core regions of the Greek World of its era.

More to the point, the Plain, a human-made landscape, is a most unusual piece of our shared human heritage and it deserves support and attention. Its scale reflects the bold ambition of the Greek settlers who created it, and its peaceful modest rhythm, still ongoing after all these years, reflects their intentions. It is one of Europe's oldest living landscapes and we should cherish it and salute those who maintain it, their hard physical labour following that of their ancestors.

Now, you see what I meant by my remark at the beginning. The Stari Grad Plain is "off the beaten track" insofar as it is neglected by the droves of visitors that come to Hvar every summer. Most of them never learn of its existence and - I fear - wouldn't care to do so. As to the Plain's actual tracks, they are about as well-beaten as any, having supported the day-to-day, season-to-season, year-to-year, generation-to-generation and century-to-century movements of local farmers for 24 centuries or about 100 generations!


Belgrade

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Belgrade, Serbo-Croatian Beograd (“White Fortress”), city, capital of Serbia. It lies at the confluence of the Danube and Sava rivers in the north-central part of the country.

Belgrade is located at the convergence of three historically important routes of travel between Europe and the Balkans: an east-west route along the Danube River valley from Vienna to the Black Sea another that runs westward along the valley of the Sava River toward Trieste and northern Italy and a third running southeast along the valleys of the Morava and Vardar rivers to the Aegean Sea. To the north and west of Belgrade lies the Pannonian Basin, which includes the great grain-growing region of Vojvodina.

There is evidence of Stone Age settlements in the area. The city grew up around an ancient fortress on the Kalemegdan headland that was encompassed on three sides by the Sava and the Danube. The first fortress was built by the Celts in the 4th century bce and was known by the Romans as Singidunum. It was destroyed by the Huns in 442 and changed hands among the Sarmatians, Goths, and Gepidae before it was recaptured by the Byzantine emperor Justinian. It was later held by the Franks and the Bulgars, and in the 11th century became a frontier town of Byzantium. In 1284 it came under Serbian rule, and in 1402 Stephen Lazarević made it the capital of Serbia. The Ottoman Turks besieged the city in 1440, and after 1521 it was in their hands except for three periods of occupation by the Austrians (1688–90, 1717–39, and 1789–91).

During the Turkish period Belgrade was a lively commercial centre where goods were traded from various parts of the Ottoman Empire. After the first Serbian uprising under Karadjordje in 1804, Belgrade became the Serbian capital during 1807–13, but the Turks recaptured it. The Serbs were given control of the citadel in 1867, when Belgrade once more became the capital of Serbia.

From 1921 Belgrade was the capital of the three successive Yugoslav states, including the rump Yugoslavia. The city’s rapid population growth since World War II resulted primarily from the migration from rural areas of Serbia as a consequence of industrialization. Most of the inhabitants are Serbs the largest non-Serb groups are Croats and Montenegrins.

Since World War II Belgrade has become an industrial city that produces motors, tractors and combines, machine tools, electrical equipment, chemicals, textiles, and building materials. It is the largest commercial centre in Serbia. A number of international railroad lines pass through Belgrade, which is also served by highways and by river vessels traveling up the Danube from the Black Sea or arriving from western Europe via the Main-Danube Canal. Nikola Tesla Airport is located west of the city at Surčin.

In the course of its growth, Belgrade spread southward and southeastward over a hilly terrain. A new district called New Belgrade (Novi Beograd) has been built on the plain west of the old city, between the Sava and Danube rivers. The old fortress of Kalemegdan is now a historical monument its former glacis has been rebuilt as a garden, from which is seen a famous view of the plain across the Sava and the Danube. Belgrade is the site of numerous government offices and is also home to various cultural and educational institutions, including the University of Belgrade, founded in 1863. There are many museums and galleries, of which the oldest, the National Museum (Narodni Muzej), was founded in 1844. Pop. (2002) 1,120,092 (2011) 1,166,763.


Stari Grad Plain - Ager

The large plain, in the centre of the island, changed its name as its masters changed: the Greek Khora Pharu (pronunciation – Hora Farau), the Roman Ager Pharensis, the Medieval Campus Sancti Stephani (the Plain of St. Stephen), and today’s Stari Grad Plain. The Plain has always been the belly of the island, sustaining life for thousands of years.

The Plain is actually a cultural landscape shaped by millennia. Its basic architecture was determined 24 centuries ago by the Greek colonists, who divided it into rectangular plots of 1 x 5 stadia (around 180 x 190 m) bounded by dry stone wall, with major paths intersecting it horizontally and vertically at regular intervals. The plot division system of the Stari Grad Plain represents one of the masterpieces of Greek culture in the Mediterranean.

Today we can identify the exact spot, at the intersection of two paths, from which the Greek surveyor began this architectural endeavor. We’re also familiar with the owner of one of the large plots from the Greek era, Mathios (son of) Pytheos, whose name is carved into the boundary stone and kept in the Archaeological Museum in Zagreb.

In the Kupinovik area, beneath the village of Dol, the land was primarily owned by the Greek Komon (son of) Filoxenides, and was later home to a large manor house built by a town councilman of Pharia, the Roman Gaius Cornificius Carus.

Because the Stari Grad Plain maintained its agricultural character throughout its history till this very day, it contains layers of all cultures which built their existence by cultivating it during a certain time period, thus making the Plain the home of almost 120 archaeological sites (from Prehistory to the Middle Ages).

The Stari Grad Plain was continuously planted with vines, but also with grain during Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Fig trees lined the edges of the plots and the less fertile areas. Almonds (bajami) have always grown closer to the settlements, almost in their very gardens. The olive groves, with carob growing among them, rose up the low hills of the Plain, as they do today. Up until recently, you could also see the terraced lavender fields which followed the decline of the grapevine in the 20 th century. Today they are overcome by the Aleppo pine which slowly descends to the edges of the settlements.

The archaeological significance of the Stari Grad Plain was recognized back in 1993 when it was protected as an archaeological site.

Because of its best preserved Greek plot division system in the Mediterranean, the Stari Grad Plain was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2008, along with Stari Grad’s old town centre.

Since then, the Plain has been managed by the Agency for the Management of the Stari Grad Plain with headquarters in Stari Grad, which aims to preserve and adequately include the Plain into the overall cultural and touristic offer of Stari Grad.


Best Things to Do In Stari Grad Croatia

This ancient little town has a lot to offer visitors, and while historical sites do loom large on the list of places to visit, there are a lot of other activities for tourists in Stari Grad, Croatia.

Stari Grad Plain – Hora or Ager

The first thing that you must see is the Stari Grad Plain.

Listed as a UNSECO World Heritage Site in 2008, it was set up as an agricultural site by the ancient Greeks in the 4th century BC.

Stari Grad Plains, Hvar Island

For more than 24 centuries, the locals have maintained the plain in almost its original form.

Stari Grad plain is aslo known as Hora or Ager, and it is the pretty much the only remaining cadastral plan (ancient Greek agricultural plan) in the entire Mediterranean region.

The plain, which is still in use, still grows the same crops that the Greeks did 2,400 years ago – grapes and olives.

You should also visit the ancient Illyrian forts of Glavica and Purkin Kuk and the remains of the Roman villas in the area.

A visit to the 15th century palace Tvrdalj would also be a great idea.

It is truly romantic, with its lovely garden and fishpond in the heart of Stari Grad Hvar island.

Tvrdalj Stari Grad, Croatia

Churches of Stari Grad

The churches of Stari Grad should also be on your must-see list. The Church of St. John is one of the main attractions.

And another place that you should visit is the Dominican monastery dedicated to St. Peter the Martyr.

The greatest art treasures of Stari Grad are housed in this monastery, including The Lamentation of Christ, a painting created by the world-famous Renaissance painter Jacopo Tintoretto.

The Church of St. Rocco, who is the patron saint of the town, is also worth visiting.

St Rocco Church Stari Grad Hvar Island

There is a mosaic Roman floor that are discovered under the church’s stairs in 1898!

The architecture of all the churches in and around the town is stunning, so you could spend a day or two visiting them and finding out their history.

Beaches in Stari Grad Croatia

There are lovely little pebbled beaches nestled in shallow coves along Hvar’s coastline.

In fact, there are more than 40 lovely beaches from which to choose, starting just a couple of hundred meters from the town.

A favorite is Banj beach, a stunning pebble beach with shallow waters that is perfect for little children.

Banj beach in Stari Grad, Croatia

Another popular beach is Lanterna. Lanterna beach is surrounded by rocky outcrops, with stairs that visitors can use to get into the water.

Maslinica Bay, which is just 2km outside old town center, is the only sandy beach in the area.

There is also a naturist beach along the northern trail leading to the Kabal peninsula.

Museum Of Stari Grad Hvar Island

Housed in what was once Bianchini Palace, you will see all of Stari Grad’s long history in the form of exhibits of archeological collections that date back to the Neolithic age.

Walking Tours

You can even take walking tours of the town.

The narrow streets of Stari Grad Croatia are fascinating and you will feel like you have stepped out of your time into the past.

A good idea would be to pick up a local tour guide to help you around.

Wine Tasting

There are so many wine-tasting options in and around the town, especially since wine-making is one of its mainstays.

However, the one place that you must make time to visit – especially if you are a wine lover – is the Hora Winery.

Hora Winery in Stari Grad plain – Hvar island

It is located on the Stari Grad Plain and it offers you a seriously unique experience.

Gastronomic Delights

The food is delicious in local restaurants. In fact, this little town boasts a Michelin star restaurant – the only one on Hvar Island!

Villa Apolon is the only restaurant to be mentioned in the Michelin guide.

It serves contemporary Mediterranean dishes, derived from the local cuisine.

You don’t need to visit a Michelin star restaurant to get some really sumptuous food.

The local Mediterranean cuisine is wonderful.

So wonderful that it has been listed as a UNESCO Intangible Heritage!

And don’t forget to sample the wonderful locally-made olive oils while you’re in there.

You can taste oil made from olives grown in the Stari Grad Plain, one of the most ancient agricultural sites in the world.

Holiday Activities In Stari Grad

It’s not all history tours and leisurely strolls in Stari Grad on Hvar island.

Adventure and nature enthusiasts also love this little town.

Lavender fields on Hvar island, Croatia

Besides cycling, fishing, diving, trekking and hiking, town is famous for one of the most grueling long-distance swim competitions in the world – the Faros Marathon.

Getting to Stari Grad Hvar Island

If traveling by air, you will need to get to Split, which has both international as well as domestic airports.

You can also land at Dubrovnik, but it is a much longer ferry crossing from there.

If traveling by road, you can take one of the car ferries from Split that will take you directly to town ferry port, however, be warned that the crossing can take as long as 2 hours in the peak summer season.

There are also international ferry lines from Italy, and Stari Grad Croatia is a port of call for most of them.

There used to be coastal ferry lines that used to operate along the Dalmatian coast, but they don’t run any more.

The ferry port of Stari Grad Hvar is about 2 km away from the town, so you will need to use the local bus service to get there, or you can hire a taxi, or rent a car or scooter when you arrive at the port.


A Brief History of Plaid

For a pattern, plaid has been remarkably successful. It’s one of the most widespread, recognizable and ubiquitous designs in the world, coming in almost every color and shade under the sun. But while it may be a major part of the hipster dress code, plaid has meant a lot of different things to many different people during the thousands of years that people have been wearing that iconic fabric.

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Technically, plaid isn’t the pattern’s proper name. That honor goes to the word “tartan,” which was first used to describe the individual colors and patterns used to decorate the clothes of different Scottish clans. While they often came in the same colors, “plaids” were actually heavy traveling cloaks worn to ward off the bitter cold of the Scottish winters, Tyler Atwood writes for Bustle. Plaid only replaced tartan once the patterns became popular with British and American textile manufacturers who would recreate fabrics that looked like tartans, but without centuries of symbolic meaning embedded in their clothing.

“If you lived in a remote land, you would buy your woven cloth from the same weaver,” the Scottish Tartans Authority’s Brian Wilton tells Rick Paulas for Pacific Standard. “And the weaver would not be reproducing a choice of patterns, but a standard pattern using the colors available to him, many of which were vegetable dyes.”

Over time, these local patterns became synonymous with the regional clans scattered throughout Scotland, kind of like how people today wear baseball caps from their hometown teams, Paulas writes. But while baseball may be only a few centuries old, tartan goes back at least 3,000 years, with the oldest example of the fabric found buried with the remains of “the Cherchen Man,” a mummy of Caucasian descent found buried in the sands of the western Chinese desert, according to the Tartans Authority.

During the 18th century, tartan was co-opted from Scottish family symbol to military uniform under James Francis Edward Stuart’s 1714 rebellion against the English monarchy. At the time, a pattern now known as “Black Watch Plaid” became associated with the Royal Highland Regiment, a Scottish military force that remained the pride of the United Kingdom’s army until it was disbanded in 2003. Although after the Scottish forces were defeated at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, the multicolored tartans were banned for nearly a century.

In recent years, however, plaid has had such a strong resurgence that in some places you would be hard-pressed to look around and not see at least one person wearing checked plaid. Hipsters are far from the only subculture to make plaid their uniform: some Los Angeles street gangs identify their allegiances with plaid clothing, while the Beach Boys made plaid Pendleton shirts the symbol of 1960s surf rock. Whatever the color and context, it seems like plaid is one pattern that may never go out of style.

About Danny Lewis

Danny Lewis is a multimedia journalist working in print, radio, and illustration. He focuses on stories with a health/science bent and has reported some of his favorite pieces from the prow of a canoe. Danny is based in Brooklyn, NY.


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