Stari Grad is the oldest and most urban settlement on the island Hvar. Featuring historic sights, beautiful old town, nice beaches, and direct ferry line to Split, Stari Grad is the top tourist destination of the island, alongside Hvar Town. I could go a step further, and say that the Stari Grad is a great place to live all year round. If you want to live in Croatia, consider buying a house in this nice place with a Mediterranean soul.

Riva in Stari Grad
Riva in Stari Grad

Table of Contents

  1. How to get to Stari Grad
  2. History of Stari Grad
  3. Attractions in Stari Grad
  4. Beaches in Stari Grad
  5. Accommodation in Stari Grad
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How to get to Stari Grad

The most common way of arrival to Stari Grad (and to the island Hvar generally) is a ferry line from Split. The ride takes approximately two hours.
The alternative is a fast ferry (catamaran line) from Split or Makarska to Hvar town, then taking a bus ride to Stari Grad.

Early evening atmosphere in Stari Grad
Early evening atmosphere in Stari Grad

History of Stari Grad dates from 385 B.C., when when the Greeks established their colony on Hvar. They called it Pharos. A few hundred years later the Romans took control of the place. Unfortunately, there are no preserved monuments from that time.

After the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, Hvar was exposed to barbarian attacks, as were other places in the former empire. A few hundred years later, Slavs came to Stari Grad. After their baptism, the first churches were built, many of which are still preserved today.

Like other Dalmatian towns, the Stari Grad was under Venetian rule during the Middle Ages, until the dissolution of the Venetian Republic, and Napoleon's conquest at the beginning of the 19th century.
After the fall of Napoleon, power was taken over by the Habsburg (Austrian) Monarchy, which ruled over the Croatian coast until the beginning of the 20th century.

Stari Grad streets and square
Stari Grad streets and square

As we already said, there are no remains from Greek or Roman period in Stari Grad. Most of the preserved monuments are from the Middle Ages, and later periods.

When you walk from the ferry port towards the town, the first place of interest will be Mausoleum and Palace of Sime Ljubic, famous 19th-century archaeologists from Stari Grad. The mausoleum is currently under reconstruction, while the palace is turned into a nice hotel. You will notice the city government building nearby, which was made by the Austrian monarchy in the 19th century as well.

City government building
City government building

As you walk more towards the town, you will notice beautiful square featuring fortress (or it's better to call it castle) Tvrdalj, built by Petar Hektorovic, the most famous Hvar's renaissance architect, literate, and intellectual. Hektorovic built Tvrdalj, as he says, "for himself and for his friends". It is a unique architectural achievement, which is, we can say, a small town in itself.
The square near Tvrdalj is a great place for coffee.

The main square in Stari Grad
The main square in Stari Grad
Old castle called Tvrdalj
Old castle called Tvrdalj

Walking further, you will enjoy the Mediterranean atmosphere of this place. It is a great thing that there are no large yachts and sailboats on the waterfront that would spoil the Mediterranean intimate experience, so you can enjoy the spirit of the destination.

Beautiful Stari Grad
Beautiful Stari Grad

Most of the preserved monuments in Stari Grad are churches from Medieval and later periods. Church of St. Stephen, which is also a parish church, is the most prominent masterpiece of art from the 16th century.

Church of St. Stephen in Stari Grad
Church of St. Stephen in Stari Grad

Today's Dominican monastery dates from the end of 19th century. Unfortunately, today's building is not as good as the older one, which was destroyed. The monastery itself has been fortified, which is an interesting phenomenon visible in some coastal places, like Jelsa and Vrboska. Due to the need to defend against the Turks, the locals were fortifying the churches.

Dominican monastery fort
Dominican monastery fort

Churches of St. Rocco and St. Nicholas are also preserved in the town. Take a moment to look at these nice baroque buildings.

St. Nicholas church
St. Nicholas church

While walking alongside the coast, you will notice church of St. Jeronime, an early Medieval church located just near the sea. The church is dedicated to travellers and sailors. Above the church is an inscription in Latin: "Before entering the church, be reconciled to God and your neighbour."

Church of St. Jerome
Church of St. Jerome

Coast of Stari Grad consists of rocky and pebble beaches. If you want more intimate experience of the beach, choose rocky one. Especially nice once is located between Stari Grad and the ferry port.
If you want more urban beach, choose pebble one called Stari Grad beach, located in the north part of the town.

Small beach near the old town
Small beach near the old town

UPDATE 2020: When looking for accommodation options, choose a place which offers full refund on cancellation since COVID-19 pandemic is unpredictable.

Best rated private accommodation options are Apartments Nives and Madrugada Apartments
Other options are shown on the map below, provided by our partner booking.com

Zvonimr Peran     2020-07-28

I enjoy Croatia, beautiful country with interesting places, history, culture, and people. I want you to enjoy it as well.
Contact me on email info@croatia-tourism.com, or using the form below.

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We will help you experience the best of Stari Grad Hvar.

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