One of the first mentions of the island Vis dates from the 4th century BC, when the Dionysus, the ruler of the Greek town Syracuse, founded his colony here and named it Issa. It those times this area has an important role in nautical trading and was known for amazing wines. The remains of that colony can still be seen at the locality Gradina, north from the Franciscan monastery at Prirovo.
With the fall of Napoleon, island became a part of the Austrian Empire. In 1866 Vis was attacked by the modern Italian fleet led who tried to conquer the island. Vis fought alongside the small Austrian fleet that was outnumbered, but won the battle at the end. The Italian war ship Re d`Italia sinked at the Vis aquatorium. The turbulent island history continued in the World War Two, when it used as a military airbase and it was closed for visitors for decades.