Pag Town is the largest town on Pag Island and is within easy reach of Zadar. In the 15th century, the increasingly prosperous salt business prompted the construction of Pag town when nearby Stari Grad town came under increasing attacks by the rival salt producers of Zadar and Rab.
Pag was under Venetian rule at the time. It was the Venetians who hired star-builder Juraj Dalmatinac (see his work in Sibenik's St James cathedral) to design a new city. The first cornerstone was laid in 1443. In accordance with what were then the latest ideas in town planning, the main streets and the cross streets intersect at right angles and lead to four city gates. The sober central square, Trg Petar Kresimira, includes St Mary's Church and the Ducal (Rector's) palace. The bishop's palace remained unfinished because Pag never succeeded in having its own bishop. In 1499, Dalmatinac began working on the city walls but only Skrivanat tower of the nine original towers remains.
The medieval flavor remains as gray-haired ladies line the narrow, stone streets working the delicate Pag lace that is the island's trademark.
There are a fair number of houses dating from the 16th and 17th centuries including St Mary's church which harmonizes Romanesque, Gothic and early Renaissance styles. It's a quiet town. For a wilder scene, head directly to Novalja, Pag island's famous party town. Here, the slight hum of commercial activity centers around the large salt works which have been a staple of Pag's economy for ages.
All along Pag bay are picturesque little coves with beaches and there's a sparkling gravel beach just outside town. The shallow drop-off makes the beach very kid-friendly.
[More about beaches on Pag island]
After hitting the beach, pop into the Lace Gallery to marvel at Pag's intricate lace. Those who are ho-hum about lace will still enjoy a peek at the recently restored Ducal (Rector's) Palace.
Shop for lace
A number of local shops sell lace or you can buy it direct from one of the streetside lace-makers. It makes a wonderful souvenir.
St Mary's Church
Built by Dalmatinac, this simple but beautiful church is Pag's architectural highlight. On the façade are finely carved stone rosettes and reliefs of Saints George and Michael. Notice especially the lunette of the portal where the Madonna's cloak protects the people of Pag who are clad in traditional headdresses and blouses. Inside, the church displays Pag's 18th-century wealth. The style is baroque with five elaborate altars, ceiling decorations and a large altar depicting the Battle of Lepanto. There's also a large wooden cross dating from a former 12th-century church. The church is open mornings only with extended hours in the summer.
Visit the Salt Museum
Located right outside town, the museum highlights the role of salt in Pag's history as well as how salt is produced.
See how Pag cheese is made
The award-winning Gligora cheese factory regularly offers tours of its facilities with fascinating explanations of the cheese-making process. Followed by a tasting and opportunity to buy. More here.
Dining is simple but good in the town. Pag's local sheep cheese is salty and pungent. Carnivores will love Pag lamb. The sheep are definitely free-range, grazing on the salty grass that carpets the stony hills. Wash it all down with Pag zutica, the local white wine.You can find Pag dishes and more at Na Katine in the town centre.
The Pag town tourist office (tel 023-611 301) is in the town centre.
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