Cultural Heritage


The Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, also known as the Little Church, is located at the centre of Novalja and was built in the 17th century on the foundation of an early Christian basilica and medieval church. Above the altar is a miraculous painting of Our Lady that wept in the 16th century, and inside the church is the remains of a floor mosaic from an Early Christian basilica dating back to the 4th century.

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Town Museums Novalja

Apart from its rich ethnographic collection and its exhibition of known and less known Croatian artists in various media and styles, the central cultural institution of the Town of Novalja is famous for the so-called Talijanova buža, a 1.2 km long antique underground aqueduct with an entrance located in the museum and a visible first section of the aqueduct.

Numerous archaeological sites and remains, including the unique ancient Roman aqueduct from the 1st century, the only one of its kind on the Croatian Adriatic coast, attest to a thousand-year old history and the turbulent times Novalja went through. The Roman conquerors had a particular influence throughout the 1st century BC. Thus, the Roman culture left its mark for many centuries to come. There was a strong Christian community in Novalja back in the 4th and 5th century. That’s where the three magnificent basilicas were erected. The early Christian Novalja was a well-known pilgrimage centre of the ancient world. Part of the numerous archaeological finds has been preserved at various sites and the other part of the findings can be found in the Stomorica archaeological collection located next to the Parish Church of St. Catherine.

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Early christian reliquaries from Novalja

Because of their deep religious significance and the value of the precious metals they were usually made from, reliquaries are a rare type of archaeological finds. Reliquaries from the town of Novalja were discovered in a small underground chamber enclosed by stone slabs, beneath an as yet unexplored basilica from the Early Christian period. The original set was comprised of a rectangular wooden box encased in embossed tin, which contained a glass urn and a silver elliptical vessel. As new relics were acquired later on, a polygonal reliquary was added to the group.

Capsella reliquiarum – the Novalja reliquary chasse

– This early Christian bronze chest is a unique reliquary in Croatia and one of few of its kind in the world. It was discovered in 1971 during a renovation of a house owned by Vladimir Vidas. Most of the documentation on the Reliquary Chasse was written by Anđelko Badurina. The chasse is presumed to date back to the fourth century and is covered with brass plates, approximately 27.5 x 18 x 16.5 cm in size, engraved with 32 scenes from the New and Old Testament, two wildcats, five deer, seven trees and a grapevine.

Newly discovered plates portray Moses Striking the Rock, the Call of Moses, Noah in His Ark, Daniel in the Lions’ Den and the Sacrifice of Isaac. The New Testament scenes pertaining to the Gospel According to John illustrate the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fish or the Miracle at Cana, the Resurrection of Lazarus, the Good Shepherd, Virgin Mary Orans and the Healing of the Blind Beggar. The themes are not in biblical chronological order, but are related to the cult of martyrs. The chasse is therefore presumed to date back to the middle of the fourth century when Christianity was free and thriving and the cult of the martyrs was worshipped. In all likelihood, this artefact originates from the Hellenistic East 363 years ago when Novalja was devastated by earthquake.

The rebirth of the Novalja reliquary was honoured on the 186th anniversary of the Archaeological Museum in Zadar through the „Discovering the Secrets of the Novalja Chasse” event held on 30 November 2018, which encompassed the presentation of new findings about the Novalja reliquary and a demonstration of chasse-making. This valuable work of art is held at the Archaeological Museum in Zadar and, once designed, its model will become a part of Croatian souvenir collection. The Art History Department at the Ministry of Science has approved the scientific project in collaboration with the University of Maribor and the Archaeological Museum in Zadar.


4th century octagonal early christian reliquary from Novalja

The Early Christian period is characterised by strong growth and development, as evidenced by all of these finds. A particularly fine example is an 8-sided reliquary made from gold-plated tin with an embossed relief depicting Jesus and the Apostles, spread over the eight sides of the vessel, which is covered by a lid with a pinecone on top. This find dates back to the 4th century and exhibits high-quality craftsmanship. It has been completely preserved and is now kept in the Zadar Archaeological Museum.

The relief depicts the scene of “handing over the law” (Traditio legis), a motif that was introduced in the second half of the 4th century. Jesus Christ is always shown in the centre of the composition, with Peter on his left, and Paul on the right. Jesus is holding up his right hand, and holding a volume in his left. His face and left hand are turned toward Peter, who is bearing the cross and reaching out to Jesus to receive the law. Paul on the right is holding a scroll (rotulus) in his left hand, and reaching out to Jesus with his right hand. The other five apostles portrayed cannot be identified because their iconography builds on the depictions of ancient philosophers. All of them are wearing togas and palliums, and their heads are shown in profile. Three of the apostles are holding scrolls, one is holding an open book (codex), while the last one, a bearded man, is holding both a book and a scroll. The reason why there are only 7 apostles instead of the usual 12 is probably because of the size of the object.

The iconography of Jesus among the Apostles is a common motif on sarcophagi dating from the late 4th and early 5th centuries, so the style of the 8-sided Novalja reliquary is perfectly representative of the period. The “handing over the law” theme with all Twelve Apostles is a common motif found on sarcophagi of the time, while reliquaries usually display a reduced version. The Christ-centric images, such as these seen on the Novalja piece, were created to reinforce the idea of the Church that the law of the land comes from God, and that He is the only true ruler.

(Taken from: J. BARAKA, 2008, 121)

1.fotka- Replika novaljskog relikvijaras
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3.fotka - Novaljski relikvijaris

Crnkovic’s Court

With the help of his family and in a former boutique and barber shop’s attic in Novalja, the famous Croatian writer and journalist Mladen Kušec held an exhibition of old equipment found in the boutique that operated until 1943. Thus, a little exhibition site was born, known as Crnkovic’s Palace, where a variety of workshops and performances are held today.

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The Discovery of the Amphorae

Off the island of Pag, in Little Vlaška Bay: A shipwreck of a Roman merchant ship with a cargo of amphorae, 1st century BC.

Although the ancient Greeks first came up with the idea of the amphorae as the primary way of packaging wine, oil and many other commercial products for transportation in the Adriatic, it was not until Roman times that that there were any recordings of their mass use in well-organized maritime trade across the Mediterranean. Made from strong ceramic material that has been resisting the destructive effects of nature for thousands of years, they allow us to discover and explore the remains of ancient shipwrecks and to directly study the maritime economy of ancient times.

The entire Croatian public was pleasantly surprised by the discovery of the remains of the sunken merchant ship with a cargo of amphorae from the 1st century BC off the east coast of the island, in the Velebit Channel, in Little Vlaška Bay.

Mr. Dražen Peranić from Old Novalja first alerted the world to the existence of these sites in the spring of 2004, when he discovered more than a thousand amphorae and two lead bars from ancient anchors on the seafloor.

Expert analysis determined that the amphorae were the so-called Lamboglia type 2, primarily used for the transportation of wine, which characterized the production of amphorae from the second half of the 2nd century until the end of the 1st century BC. These amphorae were primarily intended for the Adriatic market and partly for the eastern Mediterranean as well. There is evidence of their production along the west coast of the Adriatic and there are also assumptions that they were produced on the east coast as well. On the edge of one of the amphorae was a TIMO seal, with which the manufacturer periodically marked the series of the produced items.

Along with the cargo of amphorae and the remains of the two anchors, other items were discovered in the shipwreck. Four ceramic pots were found in the sand, together with the lower part of a stone grain mill. All of these items were part of the ship’s kitchen. During careful archaeological excavations on the edges of the site, a lead weight was discovered that was used as a sea gauge.

The site was protected in 2004 and is open to all ‘underwater visitors’.

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Caska Cove

The area of ​​the Caska Bay is interesting for all archeology, history and historical phenomena enthusiasts.

Caska is located on the western part of the Pag Bay in the vicinity of Novalja. This small location rich in history once was the area of Cissa, a Roman town, which according to historians sunk below sea level in the 4th century after an earthquake.

Numerous studies have shown that it was a big and important city. Caska’s importance is confirmed by the fact that there was a luxurious villa of a well-known and wealthy senatorial family from Rome – Calpurnia.

But there is still not enough evidence to determine whether Caska was actually a Roman town or it had developed much earlier.

Caska Bay today has only a few houses left, but its seabed keeps a secret – a sunken city. A perfect place of divers who can find remains of buildings. Unfortunately, the biggest part of the sunken city is out of reach because of large deposits of silt, sand and seaweed.

Important historical landmarks of the location include the old „tunera“ – tuna tower and the remains of the Romanesque St. Georges Church on a hill above Caska with a large number of medieval and early Christian spoils.

More about the submerged city, research and archaeological findings can be found in the brochure which we provide below.

Caska Cove - istražite Pag
Tunera (2)-Caska
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