Wondering which are the best Vis Island landmarks to visit? You should know that besides pristine beaches, clear waters and breathtaking landscapes, this magnificent Croatian island offers plenty of sightseeing opportunities, ranging from ancient monuments and fortified walls to residential remains dating from various periods of time and churches built here along the century.
The fortified walls of Issa
Nowadays we can admire on the island the northern, western and eastern parts of the former Greek town’s fortifications. The southern part was probably destroyed during the Roman occupation of Issa.
Founded by the Greek in the 4th century BC, Issa had 3 centuries of glory and in the 1st century BC lost its independence and became a part of the Roman Empire.
A number of artifacts and remains of residential buildings located in the area of Gradina are other Vis Island landmarks dating from the same period of time.
One of the most impressing sights to visit in this part of Dalmatia are the large public thermae. The walls surrounding them were pulled down during World War II, but the archaeologists uncovered some of their remains as well as the pavement of the thermae’s northern part.
Only few of the details of what once was an impressive Roman theatre can still be admired today, as during the 16th century, a Franciscan church was erected on top of its remains. Visitors can, however, see the remains of the former auditorium, orchestra area and stage.
Vis Island Fortresses
Given the region’s long and rich history, the list of Vis Island landmarks includes a number of fortresses – still standing witnesses of the area’s past. Known among the locals as the kaštil, Perast Tower stands out in the island’s harbour. It was erected in 1617 by an immigrant originating from Perast with the purpose of defending Vis inhabitants from enemy invasions as the Ottomans and the Uskoks had already attached Komiža in the previous years. The trace of cannons and rifles are still visible on the exterior walls of Perast Tower.
Fortica is the name the locals gave to medium sized and right angled fortress built in 1812 under the orders of George Duncan Robertson – the commander of Vis at that time. This historic Vis Island landmark is surrounded by a ditch above which you can still see the retractable bridge connected with two wide doors that were serving as main entrance to the fortress. The interior courtyards of the fortress are also surrounded by ditches and the inside walls of the courtyard feature some rounded gaps for cannons.
Located on the southern side of the Fortica, Bentich Fortress stands above Svitnja Bay and is known among the locals as Terjun. This two storeyed round fortified tower named after Lord General William Cavendich Bentich, but this name exists currently only in historical documents. Other Vis landmarks dating from the times of the English occupation and named after British commanders are Robertson Fortress and Wellington Fortress.
Located on the eastern edge of Vis Island, and standing right in front of the entrance to the harbour, the ruins of Hoste Battery remind the beginning of the 19th century and the battle against the French and Italian fleet held in front of the island in the year 1811. The name of the fortification takes after commander William Hoste who leading the British armies.
In the center of the port stands one of the most important Vis Island landmarks – Levaman Battery. Built in the 19th century by the Austrians living in the area, this fortification is also known as Our Lady’s Fortress. Levaman Battery played an important defensive role in the battle of 1866, forbidding the Italian fleet from conquering Vis Island. Reconstructed at a later stage, the Fortress of Our Lady also functioned as headquarters of a charity foundation and as a hospital and it is currently home to the Archaeological Museum.
Vis Island Historic Houses
In the small settlement of Kut, on the coast of Vis Bay, sets the Hanibal Lucić House and property that is said to have once been the home of an infamous poet. The richly historical home sets within a grouping of houses that surround the Zamberlin courtyard (including Lambik Coffee Bar).
Situated near Kut, in an area called Goveja, Gariboldi’s summer house is actually a traditional 1550’s farm whose palm and cypress trees gardens can still be admired from the long expanse of the balcony. The Villa Kaliopa restaurant still sets among the trees that were planted in the 19th century.
Even though Jaksa Family summer house once belonged to an infamous writer, the local people have named the structure after Joakin. This is why this Vis Island landmark is better known among the locals as Joakin’s Court. The home has two sprawling wings on the single story home, many balconies and terraces. A courtyard and a luscious gardens surround the home that, at different times in history, was used by many public figures.
The multi-level Andrecic house is another Vis Island building that once belonged to the Jaksa family. Standing in the section of Kut by the Munjac Well Spring, the house has, on one corner, a marvelously protruding semi-circular sentry-box that at once served as a stove that with openings to the roof. On one side of the house there are trellis pillars and the complete structure and gardens are enclosed by walls with arch covered Baroque doors that give the space a completely private feel.
The Renaissance and Baroque Mardešić house stands on the main street along the beguiling shores of Vis. Before a promenade was built, wayfarers could enter into its courtyard through a door that lead directly from the seashore or through a door that was facing west. Fenced by small stone pillars are a set of steeply inclined steps that lead to the spacious first floor and to the terrace overlooking the sea.
The Radosije’s Palace is a two-story structure that has a long balcony extends along its façade, and three smaller ones on the top floor. Rustically chiseled flowers and delicately carved butterflies decorate their lower sections, and all four balconies offer a wonderfully exotic view.
Vukašinović’s Palace is a bi-level home that was later added onto. The eastern part of the structure is the oldest and has small windows that cover the ground floor. The upper floor windows, however, are larger and are surrounded by a “diamond peak” design. The older part of the house was expanded to the west on both of its upper and lower floors.
The two-story Tramontana house was built close to the Gospina batarija fortress, on the square of Klapavica. It is famously known for the picturesque statue of a woman holding a burning torch that sets on its roof. The house was beautifully decorated with gilded mosaics and treasured emblems. The chiseled monograms (L.T. , 1911, and “Work and patience”) that were inscribed during its construction can still be seen.