Historic Stari Grad
These are indeed exciting times for historic Stari Grad, claimed by some as the oldest town in all Croatia. What is certain is that Stari Grad is OLD, and last year saw the 2400th birthday party of this ancient town. And quite a party it was, culminating in the Days in the Bay festival in September.
Once the capital of Hvar, and boasting its own UNESCO World Heritage Site in the nearby Stari Grad Plain, Stari Grad's fortunes have ebbed and flowed over the centuries, and after a period of mild decline, it seems that the town's fortunes are once again on the way up, and the future is looking very bright indeed. So bright in fact that Stari Grad has been nominated for the title of Best European Destination 2017 by website European Best Destinations, with voting due to start on January 20.
There has been a marked increase in quality, investment in infrastructure and addition of excellent new businesses and tourism initiatives in recent years, all of which have led to people taking a closer look at the town whose spectacularly preserved pedestrian old town is one of the great destinations in Dalmatia.
A major contributing factor to this positive change has been the extension of the waterfront at the end of the old town. This has allowed extra yachting capacity, and Stari Grad now has an impressive nautical tourism offer which barely existed just a few years ago. Overlooking the new riva is the boutique upscale accommodation and restaurant of Apolon, which has quickly become a favourite for guests looking for a little extra luxury away from the noise of Hvar Town.
And that is just the start of the luxury accommodation after years of average hotel options which did little to boost the image of the town as a quality destination. Four Seasons Hotels have announced that they will be opening a luxury resort in 2019 just outside the town, with 60 villas and 120 rooms in a 5-star hotel. It will be the most luxurious development on the Dalmatian islands, and an obvious boost to the town's tourism fortunes. In addition to that, a new development of luxury villas will be built on the waterfront on the other side of the ferry terminal, one more quality addition to Stari Grad's tourism offer in the future.
And it is not just in accommodation that Stari Grad's tourism future is looking bright. Not visited the town recently? There have been a number of great new restaurants which have opened in recent years, as well as quaint shops offering something a little different than the standard souvenirs. The sewage system has also finally been completed, an essential infrastructure project which, now completed, is one more boost for the town.
Look to the past and you see a rich history and heritage dating back 2400 years. Look to the future, and the star of Stari Grad is shining very bright indeed.
*Author - Paul Bradbury
*Photo Credit - Rafael Janic Photography