Stari Grad (literally Old Town) is a town on the northern side of the island of Hvar in Dalmatia, Croatia. One of the oldest towns in Europe, its position at the end of a long, protected bay and next to prime agricultural land, has long made it attractive for human settlement. Stari Grad is also a municipality within the Split-Dalmatia County.The district of Stari Grad has a population of 2,817 (2001 Census), of which 1,906 live in the town itself.

The area around present day Stari Grad was settled by the neolithic tribes of the Hvar culture who occupied the island between 3500 and 2500 BC, and who traded with other settlements around the Mediterranean. Remains of their pottery and other artifacts have been found, along with that of the Illyrian tribe that succeeded them. The settlement lay at the lower end of Stari Grad Bay, defended by two strongholds on the north and south hillsides overlooking the harbour

In 384 BC, the town was formally founded by ancient Greeks from the island of Paros in the Aegean Sea. They gave the name Faros (ΦAPOΣ) to their new settlement, an independent state permitted to mint its own money. The nearby plain was marked out with roads at right angles, and divided into fields of standard size. The Stari Grad Plain today represents one of the best-preserved examples of ancient Greek agriculture throughout the Mediterranean.

Through out its existence the town has had a long history of many aggressors from the ancient Greeks to the Romans in 218 BC, the Slavs at the beginning of the 8th century, and twice by the Turks in the 16th Century.

During the 17th and 18th centuries, prosperity once again grew from sea-trade. The old waterfront (Stara Riva) was extended and the town underwent a major architectural and urban transformation, resulting in the town structure we see today.

In 1797 Napoleon overthrew the Venetian Republic, and Hvar briefly became part of the Austrian Empire. When the French also took over Austria, they conferred the status of an autonomous province on the town of Stari Grad. With the fall of the Napoleonic Empire, Stari Grad became part of the Dalmatian Kingdom, within the larger political body of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The 19th century was peaceful, and a time of prosperity for the entire island. However, the advent of phylloxera destroyed the island’s grapevines, and the town’s sailing vessels could not compete with the new steam ships. Large numbers of people moved away to start a new life elsewhere.

Today, like other towns on the island, Stari Grad offers, wonderful architectural sites, beautiful coastline and gorgeous weather for the vast majority of the year.

Stari Grad hvar island croatia