History

Novalja has a long, eventful and interesting history, beginning with numerous archaeological discovers at various places around the town and its surrounding area. Among them are 3 early Christian basilicas from the 4th and 5th centuries; the remains of the floor mosaic of one of these basilicas can be seen within the Gothic church of Our Lady of the Rosary in the town centre. Many fragments of church furniture and other similar items are preserved in an archaeological collection called Stomorica. The Reliquary, found by one of the basilicas and now located in the Zadar Archaeological Museum, is also very valuable. One of the oldest illustrations of Our Lady with the inscription Maria ever found on the east coast of the Adriatic was found here in Novalja.

In archaeological terms, the area of Caska is especially interesting and there have recently been investigations of the Roman settlement of Cisse, which legend says collapsed in an earthquake in the 4th century. A unique aqueduct carved out of solid rock dating back to the 1st century and measuring 1.2 km in length, 70 cm in width and 9 overhead openings up to 40 m in height, is one of the most interesting and valuable sites in the area. This one-of-a-kind Roman aqueduct, popularly known as the Italian's Hole, once supplied Novalja with water from the Novalja fields. The entrance to this water supply system is located inside the Town Museum, which boasts a range of Novalja's cultural and ethnological heritage. Highlights from the national treasury house include the "Nashki" local dance, performed in colourful folk costumes to the music of the local bagpipes.

People also treasure the traditional two-part folk singing known as nakant, which has its own festival here, while the klapa (traditional a capella singing) groups Navalia (male) and Murtelice (female) preserve original Dalmatian folk songs. Liturgical singing has a special value here and its richness is particularly evident in the religious rites of Holy Week (from Palm Sunday to Easter).