- Zadar – one of the most beautiful and charming cities in the Mediteranean
- Join visitors from all over the world and and figure out what makes Zadar a perfect place to spend your holidays
- City of exceptional history
- Check out the activities suggested below and enjoy the city in its full beauty
What to say about zadar?
Zadar, the capital of North Dalmatia, is one of the most beautiful and charming cities in the Mediterranean. Today, it’s the fifth largest city in Croatia with population of around 75 000 residents. Thanks to its 3000 years long history, it is rich with historical, cultural and spiritual heritage. On the other hand, its surroundings are full of exceptional natural beauties: islands, forests, fields, rivers, mountains-a real heaven for all those who are looking for active holidays. Joining ancient and modern times, Zadar became one of the most popular touristic sites in Croatia, which offers everything that a modern traveller could ask for.
The city is constructed on a peninsula, protected from the winds by the beautiful archipelago consisted of more than 300 bigger and smaller islands. Stormy history left many traces in this area of the city that really challenges you to investigate this actual open-air museum. In contrast to the ancient emblems of the city such as the church of Saint Donat, people of Zadar are today leaving their own traces and writing their own history. As a result, visitors from all over the world enjoy unique modern attractions like the Sea Organs and the Sun Salutation. This mix of times and lifestyles is what gives Zadar this vibrant character that makes it a perfect place to spend your holidays. You will never get bored wandering around narrow streets on the peninsula tiled by cobbled stone, but if you do get tired or the sun becomes too strong, you can always take a brake on one of the numerous charming terraces of cafes and restaurants that exude Mediterranean way of life.
In Zadar, everyone can find something for themselves. Young people can check out numerous bars and clubs (Garden, Arsenal, Ledana, Maraschino bar etc.), almost all situated in the city center or in its vicinity. Croats are known as party people, so we promise you that you will have the best time. For older generations and culture lovers, there are many interesting events organised in the city throughout the whole year-festivals, concerts, plays, exhibitions. Many of these events are open-air (especially in summer) and include different elements of cultural heritage (for example: Musical evenings in St. Donat, different exhibitions in Town Guard Loggia, Night of Full Moon on Riva etc.) that gives them special and unique character. Zadar can also be very interesting city for all gourmands-they will enjoy immensely tasting specialties of the region like spit-roasted lamb, Dalmatian salsa, broan beans, fishermen’s brodetto, kroštule, almonds in sugar and many, many others.
Zadar is easily accessible by almost all means of transport (car, bus, boat and airplane) and it is well connected with other big cities in Croatia. It is also well connected with the islands in the vicinity that are perfect for short getaways from urban fuss. If you are a nature lover, be sure not to miss visiting national and nature parks in the region (Paklenica, Plitvice lakes, Kornati, Vrana lake, Telašćica, Velebit etc.).
When talking about the character of Zadar, we can’t avoid mentioning its 3000 years long history that often hasn’t been such a good friend to this ancient city. Zadar was destructed, robbed and burned several times in its history, but every time it was revived and rebuilt even more beautiful and stronger than before.
The city was founded by Liburnians in 4th century B.C. with the name Jader. Later, in year 59 B.C. Zadar became Roman municipium and in year 48 B.C. it became colony of Roman citizens. Under Roman rule, Zadar gained all characteristics of a typical Roman city: regular road network, Forum (the Forum in Zadar was one of the biggest forums on the Adriatic coast), temples, water system, thermae etc.
In 7th century Zadar became the capital of the Byzantine province of Dalmatia. At the beginning of 9th century the city becomes the seat of bishop Donat and Byzantine leader Paulus. At that time, bishop Donat, who was the great figure of that period, initiated exceptional urban development. Today’s city symbol-the church of the Holy Trinity or church of St. Donat, how is called among the people, dates back from that golden era.
In 10th century Zadar becomes part of Croatian kingdom and the Croatian population grows strong. This change in rule weakens the city that becomes the constant target of Venetian attacks. The most violent one happened in 1202 when Venetians and Crusaders conquered and burned the city. In 1358 Venice and Hungarian kingdom made peace treaty that claimed that King Louis I of Hungary had all power over the city of Zadar. After his death, Venetians made the most out of the political crisis that happened and took the rule over Zadar that will last more than 400 hundred years.
After the fall of Venice, the rule in Zadar was taken over by Austrians. Excluding the short period of French occupation at the beginning of 19th century, Austrians governed Zadar until the 1918. After World War I, Zadar was, according to the Treaty of Rapallo and after severe bombing, annexed to Italy. Italian rule lasted until the end of World War II in 1943 and it is remembered as a period of strong Italian influence since Zadar was excluded from the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and remained an Italian province. When Italy capitulated in 1943, city was heavily bombed again by Allied forces. As a result, 60% of peninsula was destroyed. In 1944 Zadar becomes part of the Federation of Yugoslavia. This was the period of reconstruction and development, but did not last long. Croatian war for independence brought new destructions and occupation of the whole region. Zadar was cut off from its surroundings and whole country. The city was devastated again and the cultural heritage suffered severe damage.
Even though it is hard to believe it considering all of the above, today, the consequences of wars and destructions are hardly visible on Zadar. The city managed to rebuild its appearances, identity and joy of life and today is considered to be a real Adriatic metropolis that attracts thousands of tourist every year.
7 THINGS YOU MUST SEE AND DO DURING YOUR HOLIDAYS IN ZADAR:
1. Visit the church of Saint Donat
This important edifice from Croatian Middle ages doesn’t have just historical significance for Zadar, but it also represents the symbol of the city that is shown in almost all pictures, art works and souvenirs of Zadar. It was erected in 9th century next to the early Roman Forum and consecrated to the Holy Trinity. This church is characterized by unique circular design that is not common for a church and the red peaked roof. Its simple appearance remained almost the same for hundreds of years. The interesting thing about the interior of the church is its amazing acoustics that attracts many musicians and musical events in the city like Musical Evenings in Saint Donat.
2. The Sea Organ and the Sun Salutation
These are not the names of some fairy tale instruments from the outer space, but two actual attractions at the bare end of Zadar’s main promenade. Their creator, architect Nikola Bašić decided to use his skills and complicated systems to bring some life to the sea front using nothing but two most important nature powers in Dalmatia: the sea and the sun. As a result, we have musical instrument built under the set of large marble steps that constantly produces music played by the sea waves and 22 meter diameter solar panel that collects Sun energy during the day to produce electricity and light during the night. Words are not enough to describe this unique experience that is fulfilled in the evening by the sceneries of the most beautiful sunset in the world (according to Mr. Alfred Hitchcock). Definitely worth of seeing, hearing and feeling.
3. Visit Saint Anastasia’s cathedral and climb the belfry
Zadar’s cathedral is considered to be the biggest one in Dalmatia, built in Romanesque style in 12th century and rich with sacral and cultural heritage. The belfry is built in 15th and 19th century and it was finished by famous English architect Thomas Graham Jackson. An unforgettable view over the city and the outskirts from the top of the belfry is definitely something you shouldn’t miss.
4. Visit The Gold and Silver of Zadar
The Permanent exhibition of religious art in the monastery of the church of Saint Mary is one of the richest in Croatia and Europe and it reveals all the splendour of religious items and relics. The charm and the value of this immense cultural and sacral treasure is that it is made mostly by local known and unknown artisans or is strongly attached to Zadar and its region.
5. Taste Maraschino
This noble liqueur originating from Zadar is produced firstly in 16th century in Dominican monastery. The special aroma of this liqueur derives from Dalmatian maraska cherry pulp mixed with leaves from its young and tender branches. The best occasion for tasting Maraschino is at the end of the meal. And if you like it (and we bet that you do) you can always bring it home as an original Croatian souvenir.
6. Visit the Museum of Ancient Glass
This museum represents a unique institution in its field,not only in Croatia, but in the whole wide world. Visitors can admire a collection of around 2000 glass items from Ancient period that were found in Zadar region (Zadar, Nin, Starigrad, ancient Asseria etc.). The collection includes some very exceptional exhibits like delicate vessels that Roman ladies used to store the cosmetic preparations, glass cups used to celebrate the Mass, flasks in which holy water was stored etc. And the most interesting fact is that museum owns another 2000 objects that are not ready to be exhibited yet. Apart from the exhibition, the museum contains a specialised library, very classy souvenir shop and workshop for producing souvenirs and school of glass blowing where you can learn how glass products were made in ancient times.
7. Enjoy peace and calm in Queen Jelena Madije Park
When you get tired of sightseeing, this beautiful park is the best place to rest a bit and enjoy the view from the top. When founded, in 1829 by Austrian commander Baron Franz Ludwig von Welden, it was the first public park in Zadar and Croatia. The park was heavily damaged in World War II, but today it is completely renewed and illuminated for locals and tourists that can enjoy walking around or drinking coffee or sorbet on the terrace of Ledana bar just like in times of commander von Welden.
If you still think Zadar is not your dream destination-keep scrolling, pictures say more than 1000 words!