Stari Grad Plain - Ager
The large plain, in the centre of the island, changed its name as its masters changed: the Greek Khora Pharu (pronunciation – Hora Farau), the Roman Ager Pharensis, the Medieval Campus Sancti Stephani (the Plain of St. Stephen), and today’s Stari Grad Plain. The Plain has always been the belly of the island, sustaining life for thousands of years.
The Plain is actually a cultural landscape shaped by millennia. Its basic architecture was determined 24 centuries ago by the Greek colonists, who divided it into rectangular plots of 1 x 5 stadia (around 180 x 190 m) bounded by dry stone wall, with major paths intersecting it horizontally and vertically at regular intervals. The plot division system of the Stari Grad Plain represents one of the masterpieces of Greek culture in the Mediterranean.
Today we can identify the exact spot, at the intersection of two paths, from which the Greek surveyor began this architectural endeavor. We’re also familiar with the owner of one of the large plots from the Greek era, Mathios (son of) Pytheos, whose name is carved into the boundary stone and kept in the Archaeological Museum in Zagreb.
In the Kupinovik area, beneath the village of Dol, the land was primarily owned by the Greek Komon (son of) Filoxenides, and was later home to a large manor house built by a town councilman of Pharia, the Roman Gaius Cornificius Carus.
Because the Stari Grad Plain maintained its agricultural character throughout its history till this very day, it contains layers of all cultures which built their existence by cultivating it during a certain time period, thus making the Plain the home of almost 120 archaeological sites (from Prehistory to the Middle Ages).
The Stari Grad Plain was continuously planted with vines, but also with grain during Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Fig trees lined the edges of the plots and the less fertile areas. Almonds (bajami) have always grown closer to the settlements, almost in their very gardens. The olive groves, with carob growing among them, rose up the low hills of the Plain, as they do today. Up until recently, you could also see the terraced lavender fields which followed the decline of the grapevine in the 20th century. Today they are overcome by the Aleppo pine which slowly descends to the edges of the settlements.
The archaeological significance of the Stari Grad Plain was recognized back in 1993 when it was protected as an archaeological site.
Because of its best preserved Greek plot division system in the Mediterranean, the Stari Grad Plain was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2008, along with Stari Grad’s old town centre.
Since then, the Plain has been managed by the Agency for the Management of the Stari Grad Plain with headquarters in Stari Grad, which aims to preserve and adequately include the Plain into the overall cultural and touristic offer of Stari Grad.