The island of Pag has been inhabited since ancient times, and the oldest surviving name for it is found in the writings of the Roman writer Pliny: Cissa (Kissa), probably originating from the Illyrian tribe of Liburnians. Croats later changed to a name more suitable to their language: Caska, which is still today the name of one of the settlements in the Pag Bay. Some believe that the current name Pag comes from the Greek word pege, for water spring, and others believe it comes from the Latin pagus, which means village.
The town was relocated three times – the old Caska was sunk by an earthquake; the old Pag was too small for expansion, and its present location was settled in 1443. The town plan was designed by one of the greatest Croatian architects, Juraj Dalmatinac, so that everything has its place: the town walls, towers, fortresses, squares, churches, monasteries, palaces and folk settlements. Ancient denizens of Pag engaged in trade, fishing, livestock farming, and were sailors and salt producers. Medieval life was also marked by strong rivalry with Zadar; this is why the Free Royal City Charter that Bela IV granted in 1244 was so important. The Common Law Codex, the second such document in Croatian history, was also drawn up in Pag.
Pag Lace Gallery
The Pag Lace Gallery is situated in the town centre, in Petar Krešimir IV square. Pag lace is a unique handicraft made by hardworking and skilled women of Pag town, which is rumoured to have originated from ancient Mycenae. The lacemaking in Pag began in the late 15th century for ecclesiastical vestments, and there was a time when Pag women went to the court of Maria Theresa to make lace especially for her. Today, because of its exceptional value, the Pag lace is on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list, and the Croatian Ministry of Culture has declared the lace collection which the nuns of the Pag monastery have been compiling for over 150 years a national heritage.
The Town Walls
The high stone walls of Pag town were additionally secured with defensive towers, heavy and light artillery (bombards and falconets). Closely guarded by walls, Pag had several entrances. The main gate was located across from the town bridge. Living monuments to the destroyed walls are the Skrivanat Tower, and the northern part of town, where you can see visible remains of town walls. Also, the present town administration building is actually a converted cannon tower. During the reconstruction of the town’s waterfront, care was taken to preserve the contours of the destroyed walls, which extend in a line along the facades of nearby buildings and cafes.
It was the northernmost, and also the first in a line of towers defending the town from sea attacks. The only remaining tower of nine that defended Pag was built in the 15th century. During the town’s development, due to the filling in of the surrounding area, the height of defensive walls was considerably reduced. Some entrances to the catacombs and tunnels in the tower itself were buried, and today there is a promenade along the tower. During summer months, various tourist events are held in the tower.