Pag History- From Stone Age to Salt Age

Saltiness is one of the basic tastes helping us determine flavors. If Pag island were to be described according to its taste, most would probably say it is salty because of its famous product Paski Sir. Even though the Croatian destination has been connected throughout time to its rich resources of the crystalline mineral, the flavors of this Adriatic summer hotspot are definitely more complex. Slightly sour while numerous cultures where disputing over its territory but utterly sweet when it comes to preserving old traditions, Pag treasures the historical feel which gives it a feel of immortality.

 

Legacies Left Behind

 

The largest cities of Pag emerged in the proximity of the famous salt pans but the history of the lovely island, part of the Northern Dalmatian archipelago goes back to the early Stone Age. Important artifacts from the time when stone functioned both as weapon and a tool were discovered in this area. The first known settlers, an Illyrian tribe arrived here during the Bronze Age but fell under the Roman conquest during 1 BC. Novalja, one of the biggest two towns on the island today gained preeminence ever since the 4th and 5th century because of its Christian community which honored its religion building three impressive basilicas.

The 7th century marks the first arrival of the Croats on Pag; they do not manage to maintain control over the territory which was very fought over. A state is formed in alliance with the Pope in the 8th century. Between the 11th and 12th century, Pag is administratively divided into two main communes Rab, in the North and Zadar in the South. For two centuries the Croatian-Hungarian rulers battled the Republic of Venice for the towns and islands of Dalmatia until 1403 when king Ladislav sold Venice a part of the territory. The first settlement named after the island Pag, falls under Venetian rule and under this dominance it received the town status 30 years later.

 

Battles of Supremacy

 

Noticeable in the current architecture, the cities developed during the Venetian rule which lasted for quite a while. Even if Napoleon managed to defeat the powerful Republic at the end of the 18th  century, the Austrians gained control over the island for 8 years. The French rised to conquer Pag and the rest of Dalmatia and managed to call the territory French for 10 years. With the Austrians back as rulers in 1815, the battle of conquest ended till 1918.

In 1848 during the time of the so-called national revival, the main aim was to unify Dalmatia with the rest of Croatia while the Croatian language was introduced in schools. Even though the Croats finally seem to have won the island over, an unfortunate outbreak of disease caused a huge wave of migration. During the second World War, Pag falls under Italian control, then under the Partisan forces, German and Ustasa armies till 1945 when the Partisan forces regained control.

 

Concrete Arch Essentials

 

Even with several attempts of unification, Pag became part of the Independent Republic of Croatia only in 1991, after the fall of Yugoslavia. During the country's War of Independence (1991), the island bordering the Adriatic served as the only link to mainland. A landmark made of concrete, 301 meters long,  Pag Bridge (Paski Most) built in 1968 over the Fortica Strait had a crucial role in facilitating traffic in the past and is one of the access options to reach the luring Pag beaches even at present.

 

Original Time Survivors

 

The town Pag is presently the largest on the island with the same name, with a population of approximately 3,121. Even if it now has the largest coastline, a medieval charm and superbly maintained traditions, the transition from Old Town to New Town has not been the easiest one.

Bearing the traditional salt mining activity in mind, the town Pag was initially built near the resourceful pans. With no significant influence until the Venetians took control, the town managed to flourish into the largest one on the island, also functioning as the main harbor. Even if modern Pag has lost some of its medieval appearance adapting to the changes of time, the Venetian architecture and some old ruins still preserve the proof of past dominance.

The walls of the Old Town, 3 kilometers South of the Pag's present location show the initial foundation from which the inhabitants moved to assure their safety in the battles of 1394.

Kula Skirvanat is the name of the only preserved tower of 9 which used to surround once the Old Town. The main church built in Romanesque style and the ruins of a Franciscan monastery also enhance the forgotten appearance. Pag was also known for its Benedictine monastery of St. Margarita, where the monks used to offer courses in how to make the famous lacework souvenir, the Paska cipka.

In the new town Pag, architecture enthusiasts can probably recognize the Venetian urban principles while walking along the longitudinal and transversal streets intersecting at a right angle. One of the most famous intersection ends in a rectangular square where a 3 nave basilica, known as the Collegiate Church is to be seen. The combination of styles in the church portal, the rosette show that the holy edifice was restored. Inside, the church displays valuable works of art culminating with the altar painting ''Our Lady of the Rosary''.

Sunbathing on a natural beach in the hot Croatian sun can be a truly wonderful way to relax but don't be a stranger to an island with such a rich cultural heritage. Discover the complex flavors of Pag no matter if you are tasting gastronomic specialties like the purely natural Paski Sir, admiring the delicacy of the handmade Paska cipka or by visiting the surviving relics of its tumultuous past.