Island Vis and St.Nicholas Day in Komiza

Discover Vis Island – the most protruding and probably the most mysterious Croatian island with an area of 90 km2. Limpid sea, turquoise coves, preserved nature, architecture, gastronomy and authentic Dalmatian lifestyle are the highlights of this island and its surrounding archipelago.
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The coasts of the island are sloped and separated. On the western side of the island there is Komiža Bay and Vis harbor is on the north. The first people settled in Vis in 3000 B.C. They were of Mediterranean background.

The island’s isolation, however difficult it was for its inhabitants, placed Vis among the favorite destinations of the entire Mediterranean when Croatia became an independent country.
In 390B.C. the Greeks formed a powerful colony called Issa on Vis, and they were trading wine with other Greek towns. The island later became a Roman colony and then fell under the control of the Byzantine Empire. Along with the rest of Dalmatia, Vis was absorbed by Venice in 1420. Following rule of Venice, Austrian Empire took over until World War I, when Italians ruled on the island again. It was liberated by the Partisans who provided part of island’s “field” as an emergency landing for Allied bombers, including American B-24 and No. 6 RAF Squadron.Cricket Club on Island Vis This is the reason why cricket is still today really popular on the island. After World War II, Yugoslavian army used the island of Vis as one of its main naval bases. Island Vis was
closed for foreign visitors until 1989 when Croatia declared independence.


There are only about 2,000 people living in the town of Vis, and around 3,500 on the whole island. The fortresses and the stony piles are there to testify about the thousand-year-old settlement on Vis. The remains of a theatre built into the foundations of the Franciscan monastery on the peninsula Prirovo and antique terms or the Hellenistic cemetery confirm that Vis is one of the oldest urban centers in Croatia.


Traditional customs – the boat funeral and St. Nicholas regatta for the single
 The Boat Funeral – St. Nicholas Day (St. Mikula) in Komiža

Every year on the 6th of December – St. Nicholas Day – people in Komiža on the island of Vis set an old wooden fishing boat (called falkuša) on fire in front of St. Nicholas Church as a sacrifice for salvation of all the navigable ships. It is done also in honor of St. Nicholas – patron saint of mariners, sailors, fishermen, travelers and children.

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The boat is a symbol of the maritime world. In the Mediterranean culture, where the people considered the sea as their destiny, the boat was not just an object. It has always been perceived and treated as a person, whose life began by baptising and naming it. When its circle of life is over, the funeral is organized – it is buried with fire in holy place and the ashes of the burnt boat are used for the blessing of newly built ships.


St. Nicholas regatta for the single

Komiža has always been a favorite sailing destination and that is one of the reasons why this special and completely different regatta is organized. The St. Nicholas regatta for the single is unique because the sailing boats have only one man on board who has to sail as fast as possible and without anybody’s help a route of 160 nautical miles. The usual race route is Split – Palagruža – Komiža and it usually ends on the day of St. Nicholas so that sailors can participate at the ritual of burning of the old boat.

Photo: Duje Klaric, Stjepan Tafra


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