Reaching out into the Adriatic and with one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world, Zadar is a place of heritage and character. This tiny piece of land is protected by stone defences and has a huge array of historic churches but also a charm and atmosphere that is alluring in every way. Take in the architecture, the views and learn all about the civilisations that settled her through the years.
St. Donatus’ Church
This Byzantine church dates back to the year 800 and it is still in an exceptionally good condition. Through time, the church has become a symbol and source of pride for the people of Zadar and the great thing about it is that you don’t need to have a knowledge of history to understand and appreciate the real beauty it possesses. Renaissance music performances now take place at the church with the 27 metre high walls containing the sound, giving a brilliant experience.
This is the largest Roman forum east of the Adriatic and it was founded by Emperor Augustus in the 1st century as identified by two inscriptions found during the excavation of the site in 1930. It experienced some damage during the Second World War but by the 1960s it began to take shape again. Parts of a colonnade still remain as well as a pillory but this is the place where criminal would have been published in public. There was once a temple that stood here but even though that has gone, you can still see the foundations.
To learn more about the natural history as well as the heritage of the region, this museum is work a visit. Founded in the 1960s, it has links with local scientists and historians that goes back to the 1800s. In the natural history wing, you can find a collection of a number of local botanists and biologists where there are more than 6000 plant specimens from the area. However, there is also a large collection of artefacts that date back to the turbulent times of the Renaissance and the Baroque period when the city was under several threats.
At the end of the peninsula, this art installation has won awards since it was installed in 2005 by architect Nikola Basic with the aim of injecting life into the waterfront. It was its first of a kind in the world and it takes the shape of large marble steps that lead down to the water. Beneath each step is a tube plays a musical note as the waves break below it. While it doesn’t play any particular tune, the sound is mesmerising.
Greeting to the Sun
This is the sister of the Sea Organ and was designed by the same person and again, found at the top of the peninsula. This was the place where the stunning sunsets were embraced by Alfred Hitchcock who visited the area in the 60s. When the sun starts to disappear, the installation, which is embedded in the ground comes alive. Using photovoltaic cells that absorb the energy of the sun during the day, they then put on a graphical display as darkness creeps in. The circle is 22 metres in diameter and around it are the carved names of the saints that many of the churches are dedicated to.
City Walls and Gates
Zadar never fell into the power of the Ottomans and this has been put down to the impressive defence system that was put in place by the Venetians during the 1500s. The city is still very much protected by this large, expansive wall with two gates known as the Land Gate and the Sea Gate. The Land Gate is impressive and a real sight to see, resembling a Roman Triumphal Arch while the Venetian symbol, the Lion of St. Mark still stands proudly today. The Sea Gate is located close to the ferry port and is not so lavishly designed. Created in 1573, its aim was to celebrate the Holy League’s naval victory against the Ottoman Empire.
Five Wells Square
While the city walls kept the Ottomans out, the locals would have needed fresh water and so, the clever drinking water cistern could be accessed using five wells that were located on the same square. These are still in place today and stand in a neat row alongside the bastion and a part of the battlements. The wells and defences are lit up at night, so that is the best time to take a look.
Map of Zadar
Pictures of Zadar
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