The town of Komiža is situated in the northwest part of the island of Vis, in the deep Bay of Komiža, whose centre is dominated by the picturesque Grimaldi Tower. It is separated from the rest of the island by Hum hill slopes (the highest peak is at 587 metres), which steeply drop down to the bay shores. Such location as well as the lack of agricultural land linked with it determined Komiža’s focus on the sea and fishing industry. Over St. Michael’s pass, a new road connects it with the town of Vis, which is 10 kilometres away. The distance of the Vis – Komiža old road, which runs through the island’s southern part, is 20 kilometres.
Komiža is a newer town than the neighbouring Vis. According to one theory, the origin of its name comes from the words Com Issa which literally mean a place near Issa, an antique settlement found on the site of present Vis. It is assumed that the Greeks and Romans inhabited the Bay of Komiža as well, but no material evidence has been found yet. Komiža was first mentioned in 1145 as Val Comeza in the deed of donation of Prince Peter from Zadar who ruled the central Dalmatian islands.
Under Venetian rule, together with Vis, Komiža belonged to a Croatian municipality and developed rapidly as a fishing centre in this part of the Adriatic.
After the collapse of Austria-Hungary in 1918, it became a part of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. The basis of Komiža’s economy, rich fishing areas around Palagruža, went to Italy and were a part of it until 1947. More and more people moved to California. After Croatia gained its independence and the army left the island, tourism started to develop.
In San Pedro in California (a part of Los Angeles today), there are ten times more people from Komiža than in the town itself. Some statistics count as much as 20 – 25 thousand people from Komiža and their descendents in America.
Komiža is the first Croatian place visited by the Pope in 1177. Pope Alexander III was transported by fishermen from Palagruža, where he sought refuge from a storm on his way to Venice, to Komiža. He took the opportunity to visit St. Nicholas’s Church and then continued his journey towards Zadar.