Stari Grad

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Said to be the oldest town in Croatia, Stari Grad is believed to have been established around 384BC by Greek settlers. Though the name literally means ’Old Town’, little of this initial settlement survives (some remains can be seen in the town museum) and what you see today, a bustling settlement of small winding streets and larger formal buildings dates to the post medieval period and the Austro-Hungarian empire which ruled this part of Croatia during the 19th century.

Stari Grad is a busy and engaging place but without the polish and glitz of Hvar Town or the tourist quaintness of Vrboska. Never-the-less, there has been much tidying and renovation in recent years making the town attractive to tourists and yachtsmen alike.

Perhaps notable for most people for its ferry connections (which are car carrying services), it has been overlooked by many visitors in recent years as the ferry terminal is several km outside of the main town (to the west) and from there buses leave directly for most of Hvar’s major settlements. This is shame, because Stari Grad has much to offer. Along with a bustling feel comes a vibrant bar and cafe scene and plenty of restaurants to choose from (many housed in the imperial splendour of the town’s more formal buildings). There are also a number of historical gems worth viewing, not least the Tvrdalj, the summer residence of the famous 16th Century poet Peter Hectorovic (1487-1582).

The Tvrdalj was intended by Hectorovic to be a place of repose for himself when he began construction in 1514, and also as a fortified retreat for the citizens of Stari Grad when the town was threatened by pirates. Hectorovic hoped the site would be a self-sufficient haven during a siege with the gardens and fish ponds adequately feeding its refugees. In 1571 the town was attacked and extensively burned by Turks, at this time Tvrdalj was unfinished, and a year later Hectorovic died, before the house/fort could be completed. One of the most prominent features of the site, the fish pond surrounded by a cloister was a later addition made in 1834 by the property’s then owners, the Niseteo family.

Situated at the eastern end of a long inlet (Starogradski Zaljev) the town is largely located on the southern shore and around the very eastern end of the inlet. For visiting yachts there are three main options. While there is no marina here (the nearest and only one on the island of Hvar, being 2-3 hours sail away to the east in Vrboska) there is a good town quay, with power and water laid on. Opposite the quay in the shelter of the north shore of the inlet there are also laid mooring buoys, which present an alternative to a night moored stern-to the quay.  Or if you prefer more solitude there are several options for anchoring further to the west along the north shore of Starogradski Zaljev.

The size of Stari Grad dictates that many of the services you might seek will be found in the town. These include shops, banks, post office as well as a hardware shop that stocks some chandlery items. There are also also dentists and doctors, a harbour master and customs (during the summer months when Stari Grad is a port of entry) as well as transport links by bus to much of the other parts of Hvar and by ferry to Korcula, Vis and the mainland.