After visiting Mostar, we crossed over the nearby border in Croatia — and if we’d thought our border crossing into Bosnia was a bit of a laugh, this one was more like a trial…
…the officers took a look at my Canadian passport, and my Albanian car papers, and it was like yeah, you, just pull right over. The car got the full seats pulled out door panels removed treatment; not quite sure what Albanians are suspected of smuggling in these parts, but they were quite insistent on finding it! However, pure as the driven snow as trolls are, of course there was nothing to find, which they eventually grudgingly admitted, so off we gamboled with a shiny new Croatia entry stamp to catch the ferry to Hvar and today’s World Heritage Site,
Stari Grad Plain on the Adriatic island of Hvar is a cultural landscape that has remained practically intact since it was first colonized by Ionian Greeks from Paros in the 4th century BC. The original agricultural activity of this fertile plain, mainly centring on grapes and olives, has been maintained since Greek times to the present. The site is also a natural reserve. The landscape features ancient stone walls and trims, or small stone shelters, and bears testimony to the ancient geometrical system of land division used by the ancient Greeks, the chora which has remained virtually intact over 24 centuries…
The Greek cadastral system has been fully respected during the continuous agricultural use of the plain, based on the same crops. This system is today perfectly identifiable, and has changed very little. Stari Grad Plain forms an agricultural and land use ensemble of great integrity. The authenticity of the Greek land division system known as chora is clearly in evidence throughout the plain. The built structures of the stone walls are authentic, with the same basic dry stone wall materials being used and reused since the foundation by the Greeks…
Most ferries go to and from the main town of Stari Grad, but we took the Drevenik ferry to Sucuraj on the far east, a pleasant little town ideally suited to drive the length of the island:
As for the plain itself, driving through it it looks, well, like any other plain in the region, actually — except that studded throughout the landscape like Easter eggs are these stelae pointing out the notable locations and views:
… but if you look at that lead picture above you’ve pretty much got the idea.
So if you are planning a road trip down the Croatian coast, or a Dalmatian island break, keep the island of Hvar and Stari Grad plain in mind — definitely one of the World Heritage Sites more suited to the dedicated historian, or those who enjoy a countryside ramble among the vines and olives!