Stari Grad – 2400 years of sailing!
We at CharterCroatia.net often write about beautiful places… Secluded bays, popular beaches, awe inspiring landmarks, all sorts of wonders Croatia is absolutely packed with, and which can make your yacht charter and sailing experience as close to perfection as it gets. But the place we’ll describe today, has a special spot in the hearts of many sailors, as well as the author of this article. And how can it not, when it’s the place that started it all!
Stari Grad is a relatively small port town located on the Hvar Island in Croatia, with 2781 (including the surrounding settelments) residents throughout the year. The name of the city literally translates to “Old Town” and it suits Stari Grad as the oldest city in Croatia! This year the city will be 2400 years old, and with that in mind this is the perfect year to go sailing in Stari Grad! The city’s waterfront holds 40 moorings, and 18 spots on the buoys. The bays outside the city hold much more mooring and anchoring spots. It is worth mentioning that the waterfront is being redone this year making even more space in the marina for sailors all around the world!
Now for the story of Stari Grad…The town was settled by the Greeks, as Pharos, alluding to the Greek island of Paros. Even though it is speculated Stari Grad was an even older Illyrian settlement, Pharos is confirmed as the oldest urban civilization in Croatia. However, age is not, by far the only thing that makes Stari Grad special and so attractive for sailors all around the world. There are many unique things about this picturesque city which make it perfect for a visit!
Stari Grad sailing
First of all the bay, the famous V shaped bay of Stari Grad, 8 km long from the high rocks of the Kabal point, to the town’s waterfront. Stari Grad bay offers shelter from most winds, as is closed to every direction but the northwest, which somewhat ironically, makes this calm bay a great sailing spot. In fact Stari Grad has a tradition in sailing, and is famous for its windy nature. Petar Hektorović, a famous Croatian renaissance poet, wrote how fisherman caught the early morning wind to sail out of the bay, and in the afternoons came back with the Mistral filling their sails. In Stari Grad there is often a stronger mistral (maestral) wind in the afternoon, gaining in speed because of the funnel shape of the bay. This makes it perfect for sailing, and watersports such as windsurfing and kitesurfing. On the other hand the surrounding bays, and in fact the entire city remain wind free at all times.
There are numerous smaller bays on each side of Stari Grad, each one more beautiful than the other. One of the largest bays is Tiha, located on the northern part. Tiha is a perfect anchoring point as it is safe, and sheltered from all winds (the name Tiha translates to silent/calm). Nearby there’s Zavala, a slightly smaller bay, but equally calm, with plenty of anchoring spots. The other side (south side) of Stari Grad bay, is quite higher, and offers smaller bays with incredible views of hills meters from the beach. Gracisce is one of those bays, with a beautiful pebble covered beach, and a thick pine forest just meters above. Closer to the city on the southern side there are a few beautiful beaches, such as the small sandy Maslinica bay, which is perfect for a visit with children. All of the bays in Stari Grad simply cannot fit in the article, but one more worth mentioning is Arkada, located underneath the hotel of the same name on the northern side, with a calm space for anchoring nearby.
Stari Grad’s landmarks are also worth seeing in and around the city. A town this old, has plenty to show for itself. First of all Tvrdalj, a castle of the famous Croatian poet Petar Hektorović, and a square in front of it, where You’ll likely have your morning coffee. For a small ticket fee you can enter the renaissance castle and enjoy its hidden wonders. Nearby Stari Grad there’s an old plain, where you can bike trough the fields of grapevine, lavender, and olives and get a majestic sensation! The plain is under UNESCO protection, and is often described as a masterpiece of Greek culture, and dates as far back as the city. There are around 120 archeological findings scattered on the plain’s surface.
There are a few annual events being held in Stari Grad. Perhaps the two of the most famous ones are the annual Pharos marathon, and the celebration of the city’s patron saint St. Roko (16th of August)! Both take place in August which is also the best time for a visit.
So there you have it, Stari Grad a small city with a lot to offer. There’s plenty more to discover in Stari Grad, which we simply cannot fit in a short article. So charter a yacht in Croatia this summer, and be sure to visit Stari Grad, and uncover its amazing secrets!