Recreating 2400 Years of Hvar History

Did you know that the history of Hvar started in another country?

While there is evidence of Neolithic living on Hvar, its history generally starts in 384 BC in the bay of Stari Grad, for it was here that some boats from Ancient Greece sailed in, and the Greeks on board founded their first colony on the island. They called it Pharos.

The choice of name reminded them of home, for they too were from an island, having sailed for days from the Greek island of Paros. They brought with them various things from home, hoping to replicate some essentials for their living – olive trees and vines, for example. These they planted in a very fertile field next to their settlement, dividing the land equally.

Time passed, the Greeks left, then came the Romans, then more invaders, but the vines and olive trees continued to grow and bear fruit. Pharos became known as Stari Grad, and still the high-quality oil and wine was produced in much the same way as it had been when the Greeks first arrived. Finally, in 2008, almost 2,400 years after their arrival, the fertile field, all 80 hectares of it, was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is better known by its modern name, the Stari Grad Plain.

There was contact and curiosity between the two islands over the years, none more so than in 2002, when a group of Hvar enthusiasts decided to honour the Greek island so closely intertwined with the history of Hvar by visiting Paros. And so they set sail – From Pharos to Paros. They took with them various gifts from Hvar, including vines and olive trees. After more than two millennia of fine wine and olive oil, it was time to return this natural goodness to its historic roots.

The 2,400-year anniversary was celebrated in considerable style back in 2016, and this month sees an altogether different style of celebration, as Paros and Pharos will once more be connected, this time by bicycle.

Hvar’s cycling profile has been raised considerably in recent years, and last winter saw one of the world’s leading teams, Bahrain Merida, come to Hvar for its winter training, where world champion Vincenzo Nibali was more than impressed by the island as a challenging cycling destination.

The latest Paros and Pharos will involve bicycles, as the Hvar Life team has organised Paros to Pharos, a cycle race of more than 1,500 kilometres, which will connect the two islands again. No sailing this time, apart from a couple of ferries, but a gruelling 10-day cycle through Greece, Albania, Montenegro and Croatia, before arriving once again in Pharos, or modern-day Stari Grad.

Paros 2 Pharos has started on October 10 until October 19, with the various planned stages as follows:

Day 1. PAROS – circle ride ( 48 km, +450/-440m) 
Day 2. Megara – Aigio ( 138,2 km, +600/-570m)
Day 3. Aigio – Palairos ( 163,7 km, +1410/-1450m)
Day 4. Palairos – Igoumenítsa ( 124,5 km, + 1040/-1050m)
Day 5. Igoumenitsa – Vlora /AL (186,7 km, +2470/-2490m)
Day 6. Vlora – Tirana ( around 136,8 km, +820/-710 m)
Day 7. Tirana – Shkoder ( 109,2 km, +50/-140 m
Day 8. Shkoder – Kotor/ MNE ( 110,4 km, +1520/-1520 m)
Day 9. Kotor - Ston ( 139,2 km, +2040/-2030m)
Day 10. Ston – PHAROS /Stari Grad (144,1 km, +1600/-1610m)

*Author - Paul Bradbury
*Photo Source - Hvar Life