Stari Grad on the island of Hvar is a harbour with a mission. Stari Grad literally means “Old Town” and Stari Grad is one of the oldest in Europe. Actually, calling it a town is perhaps stretching it – take away the tourists and the population is only a couple of thousand. In 2016 the town will celebrate 2400 years of constant habitation. The more gentile side of Hvar is show here in Stari Grad. The town has a quiet elegance as befits the grand old lady of the region and makes a refreshing change from some of the more exuberant resort centres. A side trip to this delightful old harbour will give you a fresh perspective on the complex history of Dalmatia.
Originally a major wine producing area, the crops were badly hit by disease in the 19th and the town fell in to decline. It has re-emerged as a tourism and cultural centre but fortunately, other than the proliferation of bars, cafe’s and restaurants, the town has avoided the architectural blight of modern hotels.
The harbour of Stari Grad is in a constant state of flux at the moment. Over recent years the local people have worked hard to transform the old quays into a welcoming port for yachts of all sizes. There are 4 options for mooring.
The town quay: The town quay is located on the south side of the harbour. There is now room for around 60 yachts and the berths come complete with laid moorings. Power and water is available. The prices in 2015 were 36 kuna/m/night. Shelter is good here except when strong winds blow from the west or northwest.
Mooring buoys: The mooring buoys are located on the north side to the harbour. Here, again, the local folks have been busy and the north quay is under development. The mooring buoys will be phased out and replaced by the walk-ashore berths. Only nine of the original 16 mooring buoys were left in June 2016. Some of the mooring buoys are a little too shallow for yachts so take care when manoeuvring around them. The price for a night here is 21 kuna/metre.
The western Jetty: The western jetty really only offers temporary mooring. This quay is frequented by hotel and tripper boat for most of the day and night. However, it does make a good point to drop off and pick up crew.
The Ferry Jetty: Again the ferry jetty is really only an option for temporary stops. There is sometimes space immediately east of the ferry but this is a very exposed position and often subject to slop from the afternoon sea breezes.
Although the northern quay is under construction it might be possible to moor up here later in 2016. There are to be approximately 60 berths and power and water have already been provided. A shower and toilet block is under construction as I write.
Stari Grad is becoming a very popular stop for flotilla and bareboat charterers alike and as a result it pays to try and reserve a berth if you are particularly keen to stay here. Reservations for quay space and mooring buoys can be made by calling the harbour office on 021765432.
On land the town of Stari Grad wraps itself around the harbour before extending off into the low fertile valley behind the port. Established in 384BCE, Stari Grad, or Faros as it was once known, owes much of its flavour, design and atmosphere to the Greeks of Paros but since that time the town has seen many more rulers; each adding their own personal touches. It is a town with a peaceful and timeless quality that relaxes the senses as soon as you step ashore but perhaps this is relaxation is helped along by the subtle background scent of lavender that is woven into all parts of the community, even the pastry and sweets. June is “Lavender Month” in Stari Grad.
As you would expect Stari Grad offers a plethora of restaurants and all manner of opportunities to provision.
Stari Grad has many hidden gems when it comes to sightseeing but be sure not to miss Tvrdalj Castle built by the nobleman Petar Hektorovic. A prolific writer and deep thinker he created a wonderful space to live and work in. The fishpond and dovecote are the icing on the cake.
Step in to the back streets and you will still find a number of great stone buildings. Going further back, some ruins of the Greek town walls remain, with plenty of other traces in the surrounding area and in the town Museum, the latter also housing a maritime section.
Close to the port you will find Skor Square. Skor comes from the old Croatian word for “shipyard” and the square was form by reclaiming land from the old shipyard inlet. This is a delightful spot to see local architecture at its best and is home to many summer concerts.
For a special treat seek out the local delicacy of Starogrojski paprenjok. This unusual pastry is made with honey (perhaps some Greek influence still pervades today!) and is made to celebrate any and every special occasion that can be dreamt up.
During the summer, the town hosts various musical and theatrical performances and sometimes there is an outdoor cinema in operation. The last weekend of August the Faros Marathon, a 16km swimming race, draws international professional swimmers.
For those in need of a swim but not quite up to Marathon standard, the pebbled beach of Lanterna is about 800m from the town centre.
The town has a supermarket, daily market, pharmacy and banks and ATM’s. More than enough to restock for the next leg of your cruise.