Today’s Pag Town is essentially a fifteenth-century settlement built 3km to the south of its original site – which was torched by troops from Zadar in 1395 in an attempt to win control of the salt trade. The Venetians stepped in to re-establish order, hiring the architect Juraj Dalmatinac to build a new island capital from scratch, creating the present town with its tight grid of streets and well-proportioned Renaissance churches. A seafront promenade and pebbly stretches of beach provide the finishing touches to what is a pleasant and relaxing holiday town.

Salt-panning aside, Pag’s main traditional activity is lacemaking, a craft that for the moment remains largely uncommercialized. Small pieces are sold from doorways by the lacemakers themselves, many of whom wear the dark, full-skirted local costume that seems to have endured here longer than anywhere else on the Adriatic.

Trg kralja Petra Krešimira IV

Flanking the town’s central square, Trg kralja Petra Krešimira IV, are two of architect Juraj Dalmatinac’s original buildings: the Rector’s Palace (Knežev dvor), currently used as a concert venue, and the parish church (Župna crkva), on the other side of the square; the rose window on the church facade echoes the patterns found in Pag lace. Inside, lean stone columns sport capitals bearing a variety of carved beasts, including griffins, and dolphins drinking from cups.

Skrivanat

Zvonimirova heads west from the main square towards the one surviving bastion of Pag’s (largely dismantled) fortifications, topped by the curious-looking lookout tower known as the Skrivanat, which has an asymmetrical gate-like arch cut through the middle.

The beach

A causeway-like strip of land connects central Pag with its suburbs on the western side of Pag Bay, where you’ll also find the town’s main pebble beach. Behind it lies the Lokunjica, a muddy lagoon, and the saltpans, which stretch south for 6km.

Stari grad

Three kilometres from Pag on the west bank of the saltpans is Stari grad (Old Town), the original town which was abandoned in the 1440s. There are a few ruined buildings here, including the cloister of a Franciscan monastery, and a church dating from 1392 with a fine Gothic relief of the Virgin above the portal.

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