VIR - The Island of Contrast

Until the 1980s, the inhabitants of the island of Vir were gathered in the same-named village Vir, as well as in two smaller settlements: Lozice and Torovi (Stanovi). Apart from the native island population, there are many "weekenders" in numerous recently built houses that stretch from the north of Lozice eastwards to the bridge under Torovo on the southern side of the island. The first historical records of Vir reach back to 1069 relating to Charter of the Croatian King Petar Kresimir IV. In this document, better-known as Mare Nostrum Dalmaticum, the island of Vir was named ,,Ueru" and ,,Veru" for which the historians presume its old-Mediterranean origin meaning ..pasture". The oldest archeological remains on Vir are the ruins of the settlements on the hill of Sv. Juraj, Bandira (112m) and Gradina in the northern part of the island. According to the finds (walls and graves on Grade), the Illyrian tribe Liburni had lived there over the Roman colonization up to the arrival of Croats into the region (hill of Sv. Juraj). The ancient Christian historical monuments of Vir, like churches of Sv. Juraj on Bandira, Sv. Nikola's and Sv. Juraj's in the place of the present parish Sv. Juraj's church in the village (all from 12th and 13th century), the old parish and graveyard church of Sv. Ivan from the 13th and 14th century and the still unexplored Sv. Martin's church from the pre-Ottoman times, testify the presence of Croats in the region. In the year 1570. Vir was confronted with the hardships same as the remaining Nin district when its native Croatian population migrated to other islands, Istrian peninsula and Italy, and the new settlers, mainly live-stock growers from Zadar hinterland Ravni Kotari, also fleeing from the Turks, dwelled in the area. In the eighteenth century the social conditions stabilized. Forests were burnt and felled to be used as a grazing land and stock-breeding spread over the island. In a search for better pasture-land, a group of inhabitants (Zepine, Buskulici, Budije, Olid and Radovid) founded by the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century the settlement Lozice, whereas Vueetizi and Basid founded Torove, Kapovizi moved under Bandira. Augusta Obradovic, widow of Arigo Czerwenko, sold in 1908 the land to the peasants. In the 1920s it was divided in 89 sections, assuring the inhabitants a better position by exempting them from taxes which were one-sixth of income and one-fourth of the wine-must. In 1912. the Privlaka Bay (Gaz) was dug up deeper so thata ferry-line between Skoljic and the coast could be installed. The ferry-lines became more frequent and the number of inhabitants grew constantly. The quantity of cattle raised as well.

The walls put to enclose grazing-land gave a distinct mark to the island of Vir, that with certain adjustments last to the present day. Between the two world wars, the inhabitants of Vir turned themselves towards Susak and Sibenik. They went to sea, mostly as members of a crew on ocean-going ships. A smaller number of them stayed overseas and immigrated into the USA, South America (Argentina, Chile) and Australia. After the World War Two, Vir passed through an expansion of its population. According to a record from 1953. Vir reached the highest number of the island inhabitants in its history - 1121 citizens. Ever since then, the number of Vir's inhabitants has gradually been decreasing. The chief occupation of almost every adult person on Vir issailing. Some of them moved to Rijeka to get a job, predominantly as laborers, some however in order to learn various crafts. In the 1950s a certain number emigrated to another countries. ,,At the very last moment" a bridge over Gaz between the mainland and the island of Vir has been built. At that time, it was righteously called ,,the bridge of life". In 1976 it was released for traffic, turning the new page of the island's history.

Today's dynamic development of Vir emerged from its attachment with the area of Zadar, which is the focal point of the North-Dalmatia region, as well as from its connection with the Lika highway, that links Zadar with the continental part of the country. An intensive house-building under excellent conditions has taken place between the village and the bridge, at first in the southern part, later also in the northern part of the island. There are more than seven thousand resort-houses on Vir today. If measured by the number of its guests in the summer months, Vir became a tourist place of many contrasts, so that some people call it thence "The Island of Contrasts".

Nature at its purity can be seen on Vir, from pasture glades to magnificent pine-woods and other Mediterranean vegetation, cultivated vineyards, fields and gardens, the intact meadowlands, valleys down to the karstic hills slightly above one hundred meters, arranged in a chain from the south-west to the north-west of the island, from sandy to rocky beaches, from leveled to steep shores, from old Mediterranean houses to modern luxurious villas, from stony paths and macadam to asphalt roads, from serene ancient places to lively streets bursting with night-life, from crowded beaches to secluded bays. Vir has become the administrative center of the island, aiming to improve the quality of life on the island, equally for its inhabitants and its numerous visitors, who enjoy there throughout the year. The average annual temperature is above 15 C, the average July-temperature about 25 C, whereas the lowest temperature is that in January about 6,5 C. The healthy climate conditions on Vir have definitely had influence on the well-being and ife-expectation of the islanders. Along the indented coast of Vir there are pebbly and sandy coves partly situated near pine groves and surrounded by crystal clear sea waters, making this island a perfect place for a family holiday.

The nearby two seas - northern and southern - allow a pleasant feeling of bathing in the summer, even by the summer winds: warm wind jugo on the northern and bora on the southern beaches. The stony coast in the north-west part of the island, which is abundant in marine flora and fauna, offers an attractive place for deep-sea divers. Numerous bays and inlets with piers enable the yachting visitors to go ashore on their way in the string of 300 islands and islets towards the National Park Kornati. On Vir, tourist accommodation is offered primarily in private family houses, rooms and apartments or in entire resort-houses, often with their own berths. The island of Vir is still no place of big hotels. Restaurantsand cafes with terraces in the shade, traditional konoba wine-cellars, disco-club, domestic folklore, various shops, medical service, pharmacy, tourist-office, exchange-office, rent-a-boat, colorful heaps of fruit and vegetable on the market-place, fish store, and finally daily Masses for the spiritual strength, contribute to higher quality and a more attractive presentation. The island of Vir and its citizens wish you a warm welcome and invite you to discover and enjoy the beauty of our .."Island of Contrasts".


 NIN - royal city

In the past, Nin was the royal seat of Croatian Kings and the Bishop. It is situated some 18 km north of Zadar. Duke Branimir received royal recognition from the Pope here in 879. In the centre of town, even today, there stands the marvellous small Church of St. Kriza (Cross), an example of early Croatian architecture. It is of the same Greek cross shape as St. Vida's Church in Zadar, with the name and title of the first head of state, Godecaja engraved above the portal. The engraved inscription for a long time posed a secret but was resolved by M. Pejakovic of Dubrovnik. The building was erected to serve as a clock and calendar giving the time all through the year by the position of the setting sun. At the beginning of the 12th century, just in front of Nin, on a small hill, the little church consecrated to St. Nicholas was built. Near the road leading to town there stands a statue of Bishop Grgur of Nin, the work of the well-known Croatian sculptor Ivan Mestrovic, who also made a smaller copy of this statue which now stands in Split.