Island of Pag/Novalja
Natural treasures of the Lika-Senj County make it one of the most beautiful counties in the Republic of Croatia. It is a harmonious combination of plateaus, mountains and coasts, different climate zones, diverse species of flora and fauna, as well as cultural, historical, ethnographic and traditional elements, etc. This area is particularly interesting because of a nature park and the Velebit, world biosphere reserve with two national parks – Paklenica and North Velebit, a world famous national park – Plitvice Lakes, the Gacka River valley and the coastal part of the county.
Novalja is a tourist center and the main port of the island of Pag and the Lika-Senj County that welcomes everything the wind roses may bring. Natural attractions, among which a special place is held by the beautiful, wide, sandy beach close to Novalja – the Zrće Beach, are what make Novalja a very desirable and popular holiday destination. Furthermore, other important features and attractions include Straško and Trinćel (Planjka), which are Blue Flag beaches, Caska, Babe and Vrtić, a pleasant Mediterranean climate, rich cultural and historical heritage, diverse cultural, artistic, entertainment and sports offer, local cuisine and excellent transport connections with the mainland and with nearby islands throughout the summer.
Novalja has a long, eventful and interesting history, as evidenced by numerous archaeological findings at various locations in the town and its surroundings. Among those findings, there are three early-Christian basilicas from the 4th and 5th century. The remains of the mosaic floor of one of them can be seen in the Gothic church of Our Lady of the Rosary in the town center.
Many pieces of church furnishings and other items are preserved in the Stomorica archaeological collection. An item of great value is also the reliquary found beside one of the basilicas and kept in the Archaeological Museum in Zadar. One of the oldest illustrations of Our Lady with the inscription “Maria” was found in Novalja on the east coast of the Adriatic.
In archaeological terms, a very interesting area is Caska, where exploration of the Roman settlement of Cissa has recently been intensified. It is an area which, according to a legend, collapsed in an earthquake in the 4th century. The greatest value and interest is the unique ancient aqueduct from the 1st century, carved in lithops or “living stones”, about 1.2 km long, 70 cm wide and 40 m high, with 9 overhead openings, the so-called vents. This magnificent Roman aqueduct popularly referred to as the Italian hole, supplied Novalja with water from the Novalja fields. The entrance to the aqueduct is located inside the Town Museum, where Novalja’s cultural and ethnological heritage is kept.
National treasures include a local dance called Naški, performed accompanied by bellows and colorful costumes. Traditional folk two-part singing called Nakanat is also nurtured and has its own festival, while the choirs Navalia (male), and Murtelice (female) cherish the original Dalmatian folk choir songs. Liturgical singing is also particularly valuable, which is evident in religious rites of the Holy Week (from Palm Sunday to Easter).
There are few places on the Adriatic which can pride themselves on beautiful natural beaches in their surroundings as can Novalja. Whether you head north or south, east or west from Novalja, you will reach one of those magnificent beaches which will offer you a great deal of enjoyment. The beaches are wide, with sand or pebbles, clear water and excellent access to the sea and are therefore particularly suitable for families with children. Their distance from Novalja is 1-3 km, and they form a sort of ring around it. All the beaches, except one (Babe), are accessible by car and all of them have parking lots.
Zrće Beach is located southeast of Novalja and tells its own special story. It is the most beautiful and the most attractive beach in Novalja. Its coastal area is spacious and covered in pebbles. It can accommodate several thousand people during peak season. Access to the sea is covered in pebbles, while the steep descending bottom makes this beach very deep. On the beach, you can use a variety of sports, recreational and entertainment facilities and quality restaurants, as well as beautifully decorated venues which offer entertainment throughout the night. In promotional activities of the Croatian Tourist Board and the Blue Flower program, Zrće was declared the most beautiful and best designed beach on the Adriatic in 2002. With its outstanding natural features, equipment and facilities, Zrće meets the strict requirements of the European Foundation for Environmental Education and has been a Blue Flag beach since summer 2003. The beach is at about 2 km away from Novalja. It has a large parking lot, and is connected by public transport with Novalja in July and August.
At Zrće, there are numerous day bars and nightclubs, because of which it is known worldwide as the Croatian Ibiza. Parties at Zrće go on 24/7 during peak season and attract tens of thousands of young people from all over the world.
Straško Beach and the eponymous Camp are located south of Novalja, in a wide bay open to the sea. It is about 1.5 km long, and after a short rocky entrance into the sea one reaches a sandy bottom. Along the length of the beach, there is one of the largest and most beautiful camps on the Adriatic, with a clothing-obligatory and a nudist part, restaurants, entertainment and sports facilities, various workshops, playgrounds, etc. The whole area is covered in forest (pine, holm oak), which gives it special charm. Since the summer of 2004 it has been a Blue Flag beach.
Undiscovered sandy beaches can be accessed through a picturesque area called the Canyon near Metajna. It captures your attention with clear water and a beautiful lunar landscape.
Sports and recreation occupy an increasingly important place in our tourist offer owing to the development of sports and the existence of sports and recreational facilities in the town.
Sports venues and facilities in Novalja include a football stadium, a multipurpose sports hall, tennis courts, fitness centers, saunas and a hotel with indoor and outdoor swimming pools, etc.
Novalja’s hinterland, called the Novalja Field, is intersected by kilometers of bike trails that pass between numerous vineyards. Riding on these trails, in a silence that rests the body and the mind, one experiences the beauty of this area in a unique way.
Sports and recreational facilities are also found on most of local beaches. Beach volleyball is particularly popular, aside from other recreational facilities on the beaches. Throughout the year, and especially in summer, various competitions and tournaments are held, some of which have become a tradition.
On the Day of the town of Novalja, June 13th, Saint Anthony’s Cup in angling and spearfishing is held, as well as competitions in bowling and indoor soccer.
The Day of Thanksgiving, August 5th, is celebrated with athletic competitions as well, such as the traditional soccer tournament in the Memory of Milivoj Pogorilić.
The Novalja – Lun – Novalja bike race and mini marathon around Novalja are found almost regularly in the annual calendar of sporting events in the town area.
For climbing enthusiasts, we recommend the attractive Stogaj site by Metajna, while those who prefer walking on sharp island rocks can visit the Pag triangle site in Novalja’s hinterland (we recommend using guidance of a person who knows the terrain).
If you’re a fan of the deep sea, contact one of the diving centers in Stara Novalja. Visiting deep and dark underwater mysteries is recommended for professional divers in order to see the amphora site from the sunken Roman merchant ship from the 1st century, located in the Velebit Channel, not far from the ferry port Žigljen, at a depth of about 30 m.
The offer is especially rich when it comes to recreational facilities for children. It includes donkey riding that truly fascinates our youngest visitors. Amusement park, Rubber-Ville and other fun activities will provide great fun for your playful little ones.
We invite you to participate in some of the competitions or use one of various sports and recreational facilities, thus making your vacation richer and more interesting.
Caska is a small place in the Novalja community, with a large bay and a beautiful beach. Most houses are located right by the beach. Visitors can enjoy a couple of nice bars and restaurants for those who prefer the shade. According to some data, Caska may be the oldest settlement on the island of Pag, given that underneath the sea surface there is a sunken Roman town named Cissa.
The Pag Triangle
Just a few kilometers from Novalja, on the peak named Velo Tusto Čelo, there is a natural phenomenon imprinted in the rocks known as the Pag Triangle. It forms an isosceles triangle which is 32x32x22 meters in size and shaped as an iron print. Visiting the site requires some skill in walking on the rocks because there is no beaten track. Although the phenomenon has not been fully explored and explained, its existence is often associated with the appearance of UFOs over the whole Pag area in the past.
The emergence of the triangle, according to Stephen Zvonarić’s theory
Explaining the emergence of the triangle is supported by the comparison of the triangular foundation of the Lepenci dwellings in Đerdapska Canyon from the Mesolithic Age, about 9000 years ago. The triangular foundations of just 30 degrees proved to be too narrow, and were eventually built at 60 degrees, doubled in width. Even such dwellings were too small for longer family habitation and were very complicated to build.
However, even after all the destructive floods of the Danube River, the Lepenci kept stubbornly repeating the old mistake for thousands of years, thus raising the archaeological “temple with seven terraces”. They developed a triangle cult, and the privileged Lepenci members were buried in a triangular fashion. The reason for this had to be enormously important and strictly obeyed. The puzzle of the Lepenci culture is recognizable on the ornaments engraved on large cobbles from the Danube River, which is reminiscent of the equally mysterious Mayan culture. Both cultures reflect the symbolism of the universe. A unique case in archaeology, as well as a unique phenomenon of the Pag triangle brings us to the conclusion that the Lepenci had to have seen triangular aircrafts, as had as the hunters on the island of Pag. By building such dwellings, the Lepenci must have believed that the triangles would help them reach the stars.
The UFO Phenomena of Pag
In addition to the mysterious triangle, there are increasing instances of unexplained UFO sightings on the island of Pag. Even though that, chronologically speaking, witness statements about unusual UFO phenomena date back to the 1960s, in the last few years the incidence of unusual phenomena on the island of Pag has increased. Based on witness statements, the first serious (recorded) phenomenon occurred on an afternoon in the sixties, when a glowing flying object of a triangular shape, which emanated a strange light, was seen northeast of the town of Pag. This event was witnessed by about thirty villagers from the town of Pag. There is even a police report of the incident. Unusual flying phenomena have more than once been testified by anonymous witnesses who did not want media attention, mostly out of fear of being ridiculed. Such cases are numerous and all occurrences happened in the area of the island of Pag. In December 1997, an unusual light was observed over the southern part of the island. Its appearance was first noticed by the island police and in the next few days, by the locals from Dinjške, near Zadar, Karlobag and others. This event was reported in daily press, and the most important excerpts can be found on this page. The event from April 20th, 1999, around 5 pm, according to eyewitnesses, testifies about the appearance of an unusual new round light with a tail in the northwestern area of the town of Pag.
The entire Croatian public was pleasantly surprised by the discovery of the remains of a sunken merchant ship with a cargo of amphorae from the first century BC, along the eastern coast of the island, in the Velebit Channel, in the bay of Vlaška Mala. Mr. Dražen Peranić from Stara Novalja, Deputy Mayor of the Lika-Senj County, warned about the existence of the site in spring 2004 when he discovered more than a hundred amphorae and two lead bars of ancient anchors on the bottom of the sea.
Expert analysis determined that the amphorae belong to the so-called Lamboglia type 2, used primarily for transportation of wine, characteristic for the production of amphorae since mid-second until the end of the first century BC. These amphorae were intended for the Adriatic market and then for the eastern Mediterranean market. They were manufactured along the west Adriatic coast, and there are assumptions about their production on the east coast as well. A “TIMO” seal was noticed at the rim of one of the amphorae, which is a symbol periodically used for labeling series of items produced.
Alongside a cargo of amphorae and the remains of two anchors, other items belonging to the wrecked ship have also been discovered. On the sand, besides the main set of amphorae, four ceramic pots have been found, while the lower part of a stone grain mill was found among the amphorae. All of these items were part of the galley. In the protective archaeological excavations on the edges of the site, a lead weight used as a depth gauge was also found.
The town of Novalja welcomed the new, interesting underwater archaeological discovery and, with technical and financial assistance from the Croatian Ministry of Culture, during May 2004, legal and physical protection of the site was arranged. It is now protected by an iron cage measuring 10 x 12 m, 2-4 m in height, into which the researchers can enter through an opening on the top. The site has thus been made available to all interested divers. However, for those who are not able to dive and take a close look, the museum presentation of photographs, video clips and extracted findings is being prepared.
The Girl from Caska
On the International Museum Day celebrated on May 18th, the Mayor’s Office presented the results of the studies of skeletons and jewelry found on Caska in June 2010. A short introductory review of the value of this discovery was given by Professor Radomir Jurić of the University of Zadar. With the support of the Ministry of Culture and the town of Novalja, systematic exploration of the church and the fort on the St Juraj site above Caska began in 2009. In June 2010, while researching the tomb remains in grave no. 7, a skeleton of a girl wearing jewelry was discovered. It was named “The Girl from Caska”. Bronze earrings with a strawberry-shaped ornament were among the findings. Such earrings were the preferred jewelry of Croatian women from the second half of the 9th century to the 11th century. Furthermore, the findings include a silver ring and a gold-plated bronze necklace that have never been found in any other early-Croatian grave.