UNESCO World Heritage Site #234: Stari Grad Plain

UNESCO World Heritage Site #234: Stari Grad Plain
UNESCO World Heritage Site #234: Stari Grad Plain

From the World Heritage inscription:

Stari Grad Plain represents a comprehensive system of land use and agricultural colonisation by the Greeks, in the 4th century BC. Its land organisation system, based on geometrical parcels with dry stone wall boundaries (chora), is exemplary. This system was completed from the very first by a rainwater recovery system involving the use of tanks and gutters. This testimony is of Outstanding Universal Value.

The land parcel system set up by the Greek colonisers has been respected over later periods. Agricultural activity in the chora has been uninterrupted for 24 centuries up to the present day, and is mainly based on grapes and olives.
The ensemble today constitutes the cultural landscape of a fertile cultivated plain whose territorial organisation is that of the Greek colonisation.

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.

The setting up of the management plan and of the authority in charge of its application should enable the carrying out of a thorough programme of archaeological excavations, the fostering of sustainable agricultural development in the chora and the control of urban and tourism development in the vicinity of the property, with all due care being taken to ensure that its Outstanding Universal Value is respected.

I had a difficult time trying to figure out what to make of the Stari Grad Plain.

It is a large section of farm fields. That’s it. There are some small out buildings and stone walls, but that’s it. The reason given for its inscription is that it is an area which has been continuously used in the same way, in the same layout since colonization by the Greeks. Yet, I can’t help but think there are many places like this all over the Adriatic.

Maybe I’m wrong.

I’ve gone back and forth several times in my mind trying to determine if this is a unique world heritage property or just one of the many sites which probably should never have been listed in the first place.

Either way, visiting is very easy if you are going to the island of Hvar. The plain is only a 5-minute drive from the ferry terminal. There is no visitor or interpretative center but there are some signs located on the main road through the plain. Hvar itself is accessible by ferry from the city of Split, which is the second largest city in Croatia.