The town of Pag
|• Mayor||Andreja Bukša (HDZ)|
|Elevation||0 m (0 ft)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
|Postal code||23 250|
The medieval Pag emerged near the salterns where the abandoned Old Town used to be, 3 kilometres (2 miles) south of the present location. According to historical documents, the name Pag was mentioned for the first time in the 10th century. In 976, the Croatian king Stjepan Držislav took Pag from the Byzantine authority and appointed a Croatian district Prefect as the administrator of the town.
In 1244 Hungarian-Croatian king Béla IV granted Pag the status of a free royal town. After the rebellion against Zadar, Pag obtained partial autonomy, and Ludovic I acknowledged its full autonomy in 1376 as to all other Dalmatian towns. In the battles against Zadar which took place in 1394 Pag suffered a heavy defeat and devastation, and the inhabitants moved to a new location, where the present Pag was founded.
In 1403, the king Ladislav sold his share of Dalmatia, Pag included, to Venice and thus sentenced Pag to a centuries-long life under the Venetian rule. In 1433 Pag received the Town Statute, one of the first documents of that sort in Croatia.
In the middle of the 15th century, Ottoman threat kept rising and therefore the inhabitants of Pag decided to build a new town. The construction works began on today’s location of the town, on 18 May 1443. The urban plans of the new town were developed in Venice respecting the principles of architecture and urbanism of that time. Giorgio da Sebenico, a great constructor and sculptor participated in the development of the urban plan.
In the late 19th century and the early 20th century, the town of Pag had 4700 inhabitants. In later years, and especially in 1905, following the emergence of a blight, which had destroyed the vineyards, the number of population started declining. Many inhabitants emigrated, mostly to the USA, Canada and Australia.
During World War II, a concentration camp was set up on the island of Pag by the Croatian Ustaše puppet regime. It held about 8,500 people: 4,500 Serbs, 2,500 Jews, and 1,500 Communists. When the Ustaše learned in 1941 that the island of Pag was to be transferred to Italian control, they killed all of the prisoners.
Another wave of depopulation of town and island Pag took place at the end of the Second World War. In this period, the nobility completely ceased to exist.
During the Croatian War of Independence in 1991, the only link between southern and northern Croatia was the island Pag, thanks to the bridge that connects it to the mainland on the south and a ferry line on the north of Pag.
Pag was the seat of a Roman Catholic Bishop of Cissa.
In 1443 the new town was founded and built according to new principles of town-planning. The longitudinal and the transversal streets, the latter known as Vela ulica, intersect at a right angle, forming in this way a rectangular square with the Collegiate Church, the Duke's Palace and the unfinished Bishop's Palace, which, as well as the town walls, were built by the famous mason and sculptor Giorgio da Sebenico.
The Collegiate Church is a three-nave basilica with three apses. The simple front is decorated with a Gothic portal, a Renaissance rosette and unfinished figures of the saints. In 1466 Juraj Dalmatinac became supervisor of the construction works on the church, while the building itself was carried out by his disciples; finished not before the beginning of the 16th century; restored in the 18th century, when the stucco work on the ceiling was performed. The church accommodates valuable works of art: the altar painting Our Lady of the Rosary, the Gothic wooden cross, and the silver processional crucifix and reliquaries are safeguarded in the treasury. The bell tower with its present height was erected in 1526.
In the Benedictine church of St. Marguerite, constructed after the plan of Juraj Dalmatinac, a silver processional cross and reliquaries are kept. The church of St. George, bearing Renaissance features, is a work of local masons from the 16th century.
There are several houses and smaller palaces with Renaissance façades, portals and coats of arms of local noble families in the town.
The Old Town includes partially preserved walls and the main church, a three-nave basilica built in the Romanesque style; the fronts of the Romanesque and Gothic styles were built in 1392 by the sculptor Paul from Sulmona. The ruins of a Franciscan monastery from 1589 are near the church.
Traditionally, cattle and sheep breeding, along with salt extraction, fishing and agriculture have been the basis of survival on the island throughout the centuries. The tradition of salt extraction most probably originates from the times of the first settlement in this area.
These traditional activities have been maintained until the present day. Now, around 40,000 sheep are kept on the island. Also, around 33,000 tons of salt are produced yearly, making 2/3 of the total production in Croatia. The salt basins are spread over 3.01 square kilometres (301 ha).
The most important economic activity, not only for the inhabitants, is tourism. Tourism on the island of Pag has seen a boom in the last decades. A large, well-maintained public beach, particularly suitable for families with children, lies not far from the centre of the town. The famous lacework of Pag, the best-known national lacework, is produced here, and in the local cheese-monger's shop one of the most famous authentic national sorts of cheese - Paški sir - may be found. The prominent national costumes are also categorized as national souvenirs. The present rich touristic offering of Pag, which - along with the impressive landscape - stone lace in the sea - make Pag and the Pag Bay an exquisite tourist resort.
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