How did fishermen from Vis change the world of fishing?
The town of Komiža on the island of Vis is considered to be the cradle of fishing, not only on the Adriatic, but much farther. It plays an important part in the world history of fishing. The fishermen from Komiža are famous across the Mediterranean and over in Americas as very skilful tradesman. Their innovations and inventions have changed the world.
The first fish cannery on the Mediterranean was set right in Komiža. It was opened in 1870 by a famous fisherman Vice Mardešić.
The fishermen from Komiža who moved to Spain were the pioneers of fish industry in that country.
Many fishermen from Komiža have also moved to America where, along the Pacific coast, they have started numerous fishermen’s villages. A fisherman, Martin Bogdanović, after arriving to America, started the first fish cannery in San Pedro (French Sardine Company) that will later, under the name of StarKist, become the biggest factory of such kind in the world. He was the first one to use ice for conserving fish on fishing ships.
Jakov Kuljiš is the inventor of carbide light used when fishing for oily fish. For this revolutionary invention, that has changed the history of fishing, Kuljiš became an honorary citizen of the USA in 1903.
Fishermen’s Museum in Komiža bears testimony to the glorious history of fishermen from Vis.
Self-denying island, different than the rest
We might well say that Vis is different than other tourist destinations. It has kept its simplicity and tranquillity even during peak tourist seasons. Its appeal lies not in commercial offer: luxury hotels, noisy parties or night life… what attracts people to Vis is Vis itself: its untouched natural beauties – secluded beaches, hidden coves, surrounding islets, preserved authentic Mediterranean architecture and its inhabitants – people who are warm and welcoming in a traditional way. All of that is the reason why Jonathan Bousfield, an Englishman writing for highly-regarded tourist guides, Rough Guide, put the island of Vis on his Top 5 Croatian Destinations List. Bousfield wrote: “Of course, we are talking about natural beauties and traditional Adriatic architecture, but the special attraction of Vis also lies in its atmosphere. During the summer Vis is considerably different from the islands of Hvar, Brač or Korčula. The main reason for this is probably that Vis offers only a very small number of hotel beds so this island is mainly visited by people who like it for their own specific reasons and not by “regular tourists” who may have seen its name in a brochure and thought it might be a nice place to visit.” Vis is a favourite tourist destination of people who want to experience the genuine, almost vanished Mediterranean atmosphere and calm in everyday life.
The wine from the island of Vis was praised even two millennia ago!
Over two millennia have passed since Vis wine received its first written praise. A Greek writer Agatarhid (2nd century BC) wrote that the wine from the island of Vis was better than all the rest. Wine-growing and wine making are entwined with the entire island history and make one of the main industrial branches even today. The best known authentic white wine from Vis is famed vugava while the red wine is plavac mali. Both can be tasted in numerous traditional restaurants and taverns on the island.
The legendary falkusa fishing boat (gajeta falkuša) – a representative of Croatian maritime heritage!
Falkusa (falkuša) is a subtype of gajeta, a traditional Dalmatian fishing sailboat, which marked the history of this island. Its design was adapted to fit the specific needs of Komiža fishermen, who went on long fishing expeditions in the open seas. Its distinctive feature was two removable wooden side strakes called falke, which gave falkuša its name. The strakes raised the rim of the boat by about half a metre, protecting it from high waves in the open seas. To ease the hauling of the nets, the strakes were removed during fishing. A boat replica represented Croatian maritime heritage during Expo 1998 exhibition in Lisbon.
Magical Blue Cave
The Blue Cave on the nearby island of Biševo, belonging to the Vis archipelago, is truly a magical tourist attraction! It is a typical karst cave, partially submerged. Sun rays reflect from its bottom under the sea level while their diffraction creates specific light effects. Only, describing it does not cover a tiny bit of its beauty. You simply must visit it!
In the apartment of the Mediterranean monk seal
On the island of Biševo (the Vis archipelago) there is Medvidina špilja (Monk seal cave) known for once being the home of a Mediterranean monk seal, an extremely rare species of seal, one of the most endangered mammals in the world. The entrance to the cave on the sea surface is rather big, but the farther you enter the narrower it gets and at the very end there is a small beach, a perfect hiding place for this rare mammal. It has been long absent from the Croatian part of the Adriatic, but in the past years it can be seen in some areas so we are keeping our hopes up for this Cave to get its old tenant back.
Stiniva cove – a hidden beauty!
One of the most beautiful hidden beaches on the island of Vis is situated in the Stiniva cove. When approached from the sea, Stiniva is closed by two high rocks which allow only glimpses of a pebble beach visible only once you enter the cove. The beach is about 30 metres long. It can be accessed from the land by following a steep path. Since the beach is surrounded by high cliffs on all sides, one half of it is always shaded. This place looks like a scene from a fairytale.
Being 45 km away from the coastline, Vis is the farthest of the inhabited islands. It has the area of 90.3 km2 and 77km of very indented coast line. It is surrounded by numerous smaller islands, islets and rocks: Biševo, Budikovac, Brusnik, Jabuka, Ravnik, Svetac and others. The first inhabitants of the island date back to the 3rd century BC. The island got its name from the settlement Issa, founded by Greeks in 397 BC. That antique settlement was situated at the place of today’s Vis. The Ancient Greeks chose this island for its important geo-strategic position, which proved to be of great importance during First and Second World War. The island was also very important for its water springs, its sea rich in fish and ideal conditions for olive and wine growing. Many have ruled the island through history: Ilyrians, Greeks, Romans, Goths, Bizanth, Croatians, French, English, Austrians, Italians, Yugoslavia and again Croatia. After the WWII it became an important military-naval base of the Yugoslav army and due to its strategic importance it was isolated and off limits for visitors and foreigners. The ban was not lifted until 1989. This isolation was rather difficult for local inhabitants, but it is thanks to this ban that the local traditional architecture, beautiful untouched nature, ecological agriculture and simple and peaceful life have been preserved… and that is what makes Vis so special and unique on the Mediterranean today. After the proclamation of Independence of Croatia, Vis became open to the visitors, but also to numerous dangers which could ruin its uniqueness. This is why we have to treat Vis with care and sense of high respect.
What to visit?
– The two biggest and most important settlements on the island are Vis and Komiža, two towns which truly represent the Mediterranean as it once was. In Komiža one should visit Fishermen’s Museum with numerous traditional fishing tools. Try to time your visit for Komiža’s Cultural Summer, musical and theatrical event.
– Visit one or more numerous surrounding coves and hidden beaches.
– Take a trip to open-sea islands around Vis:
Brusnik – a small volcanic island, 12 nautical miles from Komiža, represents a true rarity of Dalmatian coastal region, since Dalmatian coast and islands are mainly made of limestone. There is a beautiful dark pebble beach on the island.
Jabuka also has volcanic origin. It is 27 nautical miles from Komiža, which, together with its shape and steep coast, makes it hardly accessible. Although it is very small, it is very abundant in endemic flora and fauna.
Palagruža – the Palagruža archipelago is the farthest group of Croatian islands, 42 nautical miles from Komiža. The islet Galijula is the farthest south point of the Croatian territory. Strong and courageous fishermen of Vis, in search of fish, would row all the way to this island. The island was occasionally inhabited, especially in the Ancient Times, and numerous findings of Greek pottery from the 6th century BC testify to this.
Even a Pope has visited this peculiar island. In the spring of 1177, Pope Alexander III, on his way from Zadar to Venice, stopped on Palagruža where he was wined and dined by the fishermen from Vis, after which he even visited Vis town before continuing his journey.
Svetac – 14 nautical miles from Komiža, was once inhabited. Byzantine and ancient ruins, found on one of the island peeks, testify to this.