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Stari Grad Plain, Hvar on the UNESCO World Heritage List

Croatia has yet another site on the World Heritage List – The Starigrad Field / Plain at Hvar Island.

The decision was made at the 32nd session of UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee in Quebec, Canada based on the candidacy coordinated and managed by experts from the Croatian Ministry of Culture.

Star Grad Plain on the island of Hvar is the largest and most fertile plain on all of Adriatic islands and the best preserved ancient cadastre in the Mediterranean and Europe. In the 4th century B.C., the plain was linearly divided into 75 parcels in the shape of an elongated 900 by 180 meter rectangle.

The local community has recognized the value of the project and established a special institution to ensure future development of Stari Grad Plain.

In July of 2008, Starigrad Plain was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. The explanation provided by the World Organization states that the vineyards and olive groves in the Plain have remained practically intact since it was first colonized by the ancient Greeks and that they are a unique example of the geometric land division used in the ancient times.

In the summer of 385 B.C., a group of around a hundred families was sent from the town of Paros on the island of the same name in the Aegean Sea toward the Ionian Bay, as the Greeks referred to the Adriatic Sea, to establish a colony there.

Their destination was the island of Hvar, formerly named Fiteja, and they were led by Okist who was, among other things, in charge of proper land division to the settlers in the new settlements. Amidst the plain, in a place from where you can see almost the entire plain, is a marked starting point – omphalos.

By using groma, a simple surveying instrument, the plain was surveyed and divided into parcels of 1 x 5 stadia, which is approximately 180 x 900 meters. They also carved boundary stones bearing the names of the parcel owners, but the island and coastal Illyrians did not like such division so they attacked the town in 384 B.C.

However, the Greeks defeated the Illyrians, which enabled them to gain control of the entire Starigrad Plain, the largest fertile plain on the Adriatic islands. The settlers soon began to erect ancillary buildings and lodgings in the plain, on their own estates.

The luxurious ones date back to the Roman era – so far, they have discovered remains of around sixty of them.

Today, Starigrad Plain represents the best preserved ancient Greek landscape in the Mediterranean.

Stari Grad Plain on Hvar is the seventh site Croatia has added to the UNESCO’s World Heritage List, in addition to Diocletian Palace Split , Dubrovnik Old Town, Euphrasius Basilica in Porec, the historical core of Trogir, and Katedrala Svetog Jakova in Sibenik and Plitvice Lakes National Park.

Read more about Stari Grad Plain at UNESCO’s site

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