New Tourist Agency on Hvar for the UNESCO Stari Grad Plain (Ager)
Guided tours of the largest field in the Adriatic are now available, as a new agency launches tours of the Stari Grad Plain, protected by UNESCO since 2008.
While the majority of tourists head to the glitz of Hvar Town, there is plenty more on offer on the island of Hvar to suit all tastes. Visitors interested in the history and traditions of the island can now take advantage of a new tourist offer, with the establishment of a tourist agency dedicated to tours of Hvar's largest, and one of its oldest, tourist attractions - the Stari Grad Plain.
Most Productive Field in the Adriatic
Spanning some 80 hectares and dating back 2400 years, the Stari Grad Plain has been described as the largest and most productive field on the Adriatic coast, where little has changed since the Ancient Greeks introduced an agricultural colony more than 24 centuries ago.
The Greeks arrived from Paros in 384 BC and established a settlement at what is now Stari Grad, the second town and previous capital of Hvar. The settlers introduced crops which are still cultivated today, and for which the island is well known - grapes and olives; Hvar olive oil has a growing reputation for excellence, while the wines of Andro Tomic and Zlatan Plenkovic have achieved international recognition.
24 Centuries of Agricultural Tradition
The Stari Grad Plain has been almost untouched since its inception, thereby providing an exceptional living museum window into the agricultural practices of the Ancient Greeks. The land has been divided into geometric parcels, divided by stone walls, with a rainwater collection system including gutters and water storage.
Stone shelters, known as trims are interspersed in the field, and succeeding generations have respected and maintained the original layout and crops to preserve an outstanding living example of Ancient Greek life. The Plain, also know as Ager, was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status in 2008.
Ancient Heritage vs. Airport Expansion
The location of the Ager has been a thorn in the side to those wanting to expand Hvar's tourism access with the building of an airport to bring in tourists directly. The tiny airstrip which constitutes the island's 'airport' cannot be expanded in its present location, due to the environmental impact on the Ager.
Organised tours unravelling the secrets and history of the Ager have hitherto been hard to find, but a new agency, Agencija za upravljanje Starogradskim poljem (Guiding Agency to the Stari Grad Plain) has opened for the 2011 season, offering different routes and means of visiting the field.
The agency, based in nearby Stari Grad (Vukovarska c2, 21450 Stari Grad, tel021 765275) offers tours by hiking, biking, trekking, exploring, walking, touring, sightseeing and group tours. There are four colour-coded routes, according to length, including the route of the famous (and also UNESCO-protected) Easter Procession - the stretch from Dol to Vrboska is covered.
Connections between the invaders from the Greek island of Paros and Stari Grad (whose first name was Faros) continue to this day, following a voyage from Stari Grad by some intrepid locals to Paros, where the Croatian contingent gifted olive trees and vines, bringing home the plants that helped to shape the island's history and culture.