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Town of Komiža


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     The town of Komiža is located in the deep Bay of Komiža on the western side of the island. Island’s highest mountain range rises sharply from its coasts and separates Komiža from the rest of the island. This kind of isolation and lack of agricultural land turned the town to the sea and fishing.
     Komiža was settled earlier than the neighbouring Vis. One theory suggests that its name originated from the word Com Issa, which means “next to Issa,” the ancient Polis Issa, today’s town of Vis. Komiža was first mentioned in 1145 as Val Komeza in the Grant of Prince Peter from Zadar, but it is believed that a Benedictine monastery, the church of St. Nicholas today, also called Muster, had existed before. Different authorities governing over the island and previously mentioned in the chapter on the town of Vis, governed over Komiža as well. What makes this city particular is its long and strong tradition of fishing.
     Since the middle ages, under Venetian rule, Komiža has developed into a fishing centre of the Adriatic. Income from fishing served to build the most important buildings in the town but also enriched Venice. The greatest growth the town experienced was under Austrian rule, from 1815 to 1918, but with the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, this cradle of fishing slowly began to decay. The rich fishing areas around the Palagruža by the 1947 came under Italian rule, vine growing was shaken by vine disease and residents were forced to move to California where they continued to deal with what they knew best, and that was fishing.
     After the Second World War, the island became a military zone, and due to isolation, a large number of young people moved to the mainland, and serious tourism was not developed at the time. The former fish processing factories, affiliated with the factory “Neptun”, had been some kind of backbone of Komiža for years, but the story had a sad ending – the factory was closed and it is empty today. With the departure of the Army from the island in 1992, tourism started developing and now a few fishing boats with about 60 professional fishermen sail to the sea in order to catch some fish.
     Komiža is unique because it is unspoiled and untainted as it has always been. Only those who have never been to Komiža can speak about it with indifference.

 

INTERESTING FACTS

• Komiža is the first Croatian town visited by Pope. Pope Alexander III was transported by fishermen from Palagruža to Komiža, where he sought refuge from a storm on his way to Venice. He took the opportunity to visit St. Nicholas’s Church.

• Komiža is well known for its long fishing tradition taken to North America by emigrated fishermen of Komiža.

 • In the 16th century, Venetian authorities recorded that Komiža in a single day caught more than three million tons of sardines.
• In the early 20th at Komiža there were 7 fish processing factories! The largest of these, “Fratelli Mardešić”, exported sardines to America. Today the factory no longer exists.
• Today Komiža has only 1500

 inhabitants, and in the early 20th century, during the golden age of fishing, it had over 5000 people.
• In the city of San Pedro in California, live ten times more people from Komiža than in Komiža today.

• Fishing boat from Komiža, called gajeta falkuša, represented Croatia at the World Exhibition – EXPO in 1998, in Portugal.
• Every year at Komiža, on St. Nicholas Day, the patron saint of travellers, sailors and Komiža, an old wooden fishing boat is burned in front of the parish church of St. Nicholas according to pagan traditions and the ancient belief that this sacrifice will protect sailors and the town.
• Among older people living at Komiža you can hear cokavski speech, a subtype of Chakavian dialects.

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