In 385 BC, Greeks from the Aegean island of Paros founded Pharos. Their arrival was recorded later, possibly in slightly exaggerated form, by the Sicilian-born Greek historian Diodorus Siculus (90-21 BC): “This year the Parians, who had settled Pharos, allowed the previous barbarian inhabitants to remain unharmed in an exceedingly well fortified place, while they themselves founded a city by the sea and built a wall around it. Later, however, the old barbarian inhabitants of the island took offence at the presence of the Greeks and called in the Illyrians of the opposite mainland. These to a number of more than 10,000, crossed over to Pharos in many small boats, wrought havoc, and slew many Greeks. But the Governor of Lissus (Issa, present-day Vis) appointed by Dionysius sailed with a good number of triremes (three-banked galleys) against the light craft of the Illyrians sinking some and capturing others, and slew more than 5000 of the barbarians, while taking some 2000 captive.” Little of the original Greek settlement remains today, other than the 11-m-long Cyclop’s Wall, made up of massive stone blocks, that can be traced through some of the buildings on the south side of the bay.
During medieval times, the town continued to hold its position as the island’s main centre, and a bishopric was founded here in 1147. However, when the Venetians encouraged citizens to relocate to Hvar Town in 1278, Stari Grad sunk into a period of stagnation, from which it has never really recovered.
In the early 19th century the port was expanded to facilitate the export of wine from the island, and during the 1970s, several large hotels were built on the north side of the bay, bringing Stari Grad into the package tourism market. In May 2003, a local crew from Stari Grad set sail on a 700-mile journey to the Greek island of Paros, in the hope of establishing future cultural connections with their mother town. Details about the expedition can be found at http://www.stari-grad-faros.hr/expedition.