Olive tree, a symbol of Dalmatia

Olive tree has been a symbol of peace, wisdom and harmony since ancient times. This tree is probably the most important cultural and natural heritage of Dalmatia, a province known for the quality of its wines and olive oils.

History of olive growing in Dalmatia

According to the newest archeological researches, olive cultivation in Dalmatia has been dated to the 9-8 century BC.

On island of Hvar there is a Stari Grad Plain, a protected landscape that has remained practically intact since the 4th century BC when it was colonized by Greeks from Paros. The original agricultural activity, based on grapes and olives, has been maintained uninterrupted for 24 centuries up to the present day!

The Greek colonisers divided the land in parcels using a grid system that has been respected and protected over later periods and it is still visible today. “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”. Due to the long and rich history of this plain, there are almost 120 archaeological sites (from Prehistory to the Middle Ages) spread throughout it.

Since it has the 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.

World Olive Tree Day

UNESCO proclaimed it in 2019 with the aim “to encourage the protection of the olive tree and the values it embodies, in order to appreciate its important social, cultural, economic and environmental significance to humanity.” It is celebrated every year on November 26th.

Find out more about history of Dalmatia in our other blog stories.