Vis island is located almost in the middle of the Adriatic and has had an interesting and turbulent past, creating long lasting ties with one specific nation.
Due to its outstanding position in the middle of the Adriatic sea, the island of Vis, a place with the oldest urban settlement in Croatia (ancient Greek colony Issa), has always been of interest to various cultures and civilizations that dwelt on the Adriatic. Not many people are familiar with the fact that the British are one of those people that had established a special bond with Vis island, leaving their permanent mark there.
Unlike its history, Vis island is nowadays a peaceful island, ideal for a relaxed holiday away from the crowds and hectic urban life. When coming to the island, once the ferry enters the bay of Vis town, the view stretches from old stone villas and houses, over lovely old churches to some more modern residential buildings, all combined for a perfect scenery. But before your eyes get caught by a lovely villa or an interesting old chimney on a rooftop, on both sides of the entrance to the bay you will see two forts, both built by the Royal British navy.
When the navy first came to Vis in the early 19th century, they built those fortresses to control all the vessels entering the port of Vis town. One of them, Fortica, has been renovated in the last decade and today serves as a venue for concerts and various other events such as weddings etc. Furthermore, on a small island on the right side of the bay entrance a small fortress was built. That islet was named after British Admiral William Hoste and it bears its name ever since. There were several more built that are mostly in ruins today but have a great tourist potential and hopefully the future development of the island will help them gain new purpose.
Building fortresses and military buildings were not the only mark the British left on the island. William Hoste introduced cricket to the island in 1809 and some 15 years ago, people from Vis and Britain decided to found the club again and bring this game back to the island of Vis. Croatia is a country with numerous sports clubs, but when it comes to cricket, Vis club (that now bears the name of Sir William Hoste) is one of just three in the whole country. And as it was firstly established in 1809, it makes it the oldest cricket club in Europe outside the UK.
The British retreated from the island as it came under the Austro-Hungarian empire, and came back again in the 20th century, during World War II when the navy was joined by RAF as small airport was in function on the island during the war. Those who lost their lives were buried on the Allied cemetery and there are several monuments, including some park benches, that are dedicated to soldiers who died in combat when Vis became the launching point for the invasion in then Yugoslavia during WWII.
The ties with Britain did not stop there. Today Vis is very popular among British tourists and many people decide to make their stay more permanent, choosing to buy a house or a villa. Vis island has proved to be the ideal place not just for holiday, but for living as well as its tranquility, pristine nature and hospitable people create excellent conditions for a peaceful and comfortable life.