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Otok Vis

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Famed for being a closed island until 1989, Vis is one of Croatia’s most off-shore and distant locations. It is remote enough that today it remains largely unspoiled and devoid of the normal commercial tourist trappings such as resort hotels. Yet there are plenty of family-run restaurants, shops and pensions providing the very highest standard of services.


Despite its location, more than 45 km to the south-west of Split and over 100km from the Italian coast, there are a number of different ferries both directly from the mainland, and also from the surrounding islands, arriving at Vis Town, the island’s main settlement.


Komiza and Mout Hum, Otok Vis

Vis, Komiza and Mount Hum (585m)


The island is 17 km by 7 km and is dominated by rocky mountains peaks of up to 585 m. Unlike many of the Croatian islands this is a good destination for walking with a number or routes marked out of the main towns that lead both to the peaks and also to many of the island’s more secluded bays. Today its main industries are agriculture (particularly vineyards), fishing (Komiza, the island’s second town, is said to be the centre of Adriatic fishing) and tourism.


History

Though occupied from as early as 3000 BC onwards the first substantial evidence for settlement on Vis is that left by Greek colonists who came to the island they knew as Issa from Sicily in the 4th Century BC.


During the medieval period the Vis knew many rulers, and though nominally part of the territory of the Kingdom of Croatia its remote location led to local rule over the island changing frequently. For much of the later middle ages the island, like large swathes of the Adriatic coast, was part of the Venetian empire and was known as Lissa. Venetian rule finally came to an end in 1797 when its control was passed over to the Austrian Empire.


Change in rulers continued throughout the 19th century, when the island’s location made it of strategic importance for navies operating in Adriatic waters. During the Napoleonic war the island was in British hands and the remains of three forts dating to this period, as well as a military cemetery can be seen around Vis Town.


Fort Trejun, Vis Town

Fort Trejun, Vis Town


During the Second World War, the island also changed hands frequently being under first Croatian, then Italian and then Allied control. For a while in 1943 Tito used the island as a base, living in a system of caves in the interior and it was here famously that Evelyn Waugh joined the British Mission to Tito’s command. After the war the island became part of Yugoslavia and was used heavily fortified as a naval base. During this period access to Vis was restricted a situation that only changed after Croatia declared independence in 1989. Today there are a number of disused military buildings relating to the Yugoslav period.

 
Tito's Cave, Otok Vis
Pilsko Polje Airfield, Otok Vis
Stiniva, Otok Vis
George III fort, Vis Town