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Zadar top ten attractions

Zadar is an ancient city, built in the center of the Croatian Adriatic, full of historical and cultural monuments. It is three thousand years old, a city of old, tumultuous and dynamic history, often destructed, looted, devastated, every time emerging from the ruins stronger, richer and more beautiful. Zadar appeared for the first time in history in the 4th century B.C. as a settlement of the Illyrian tribe of Liburnians – the name Jader was mentioned, and through history it changed into Idassa (Greek source), Jadera (Roman source), Diadora, Zara (during Venetian rule and later Italian) up to today’s name of Zadar.

Sea Organs

Sea Organ is situated on the western end of Zadar´s Riva, and can be observed as a differently shaped part of the coast which consists of several stairs that descend into the sea.


The stairs extend for about 70 meters along the coast, under them, at the lowest sea-tide level, 35 pipes of different lenght, diameter and tilts were built in vertically to the coast and they raise aslant until the paved part of the shore and end in a canal (a service corridor). On the pipes there are LABIUMS (whistles), which play 7 chords of 5 tones. Above the canal there are perforated stone stairs through which the sound comes out, the air pushed by the sea.

This site is a blend of human ideas and skills and the energy of the sea, waves, tide and flood, a place for relaxation, contemplation and conversation while listening to an endless concert of mystic harmonies of the "Orchestra of Nature".

In 2006 Croatian architect Nikola Bašić received the European Prize for Urban Public Space in Barcelona for his Zadar Sea Organ project, as the best among 207 candidate projects from across Europe.

The Greeting to the Sun

On Istarska obala, at the very end of the Zadar peninsula, next to the famous Sea Organ, shines the Greeting made by the same                                                       architect Nikola Bašić.


The Greeting to the Sun consists of three hundred multi-layered glass plates placed on the same level with the stone-paved waterfront in the shape of a 22-meter diameter circle. Under the glass conduction plates there are photo-voltage solar modules through which symbolic communication with nature is made, with the aim to communicate with light, just like the Sea Organs do with sound.


Simultaneously with the „most beautiful sunset in the world" the lighting elements installed in a circle turn on, and, following a particularly programmed scenario, they produce a marvelous, exceptionally impressive show of light in the rhythm of the waves and the sounds of the Sea organs.


The photo-voltage solar modules absorb the sun energy and then transform it into electrical energy by releasing it into the distributive voltage power network. 

The Forum

Located in front of the church of Saint Donat and the Archbishop´s Palace. It is a municipal square from the Roman era, built from the 1st century BC to the 3rd century AD, 45 by 90 metres in size. It represents a very developed example of the forum complex, and is one of the most important among the Adriatic ancient cities.


The inscription with the name of Augustus´ proconsul for Illyricum, Tamfil Vaale, carved on the well of the Forum, testifies that the complex construction was started as early as the second decade of the 1st century BC. 
The forum is the name given to all main squares in the cities of the ancient Roman Empire, where the public life of the city unfolded.


There was initially an about 2 metre high capitol on its south-western section, in the midst of which a temple dedicated to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva rises, while a monumental pillar is preserved to its north-western side, used in the Middle Ages as a "Pillar of Shame".

The Gold and Silver of Zadar

The Permanent Exhibition of Religious Art – The Gold and Silver of Zadar

Within the structure to the church of St. Mary, or more specfically her monastery, whose property was Heavily damaged during the Second World War a Representative exhibition was formed in 1972 - the Permanent Exhibition of Religious Art, one of the most worth-while exhibitions in Croatia, popularly called "The Gold and Silver of Zadar".


The exhibition "Gold and Silver of Zadar", initiated in 1951 by the Croatian writer Miroslav Krleza, was transformed in 1976 into a permanent display of the Permanent Exhibition of Ecclesiastic Art in the Benedictine Convent of St. Mary in Zadar, one of the first capital buildings of Croatian culture. On the occasion of the exhibition, Krleza wrote one of his best essays, in which he glorified the treasures of Zadar.


The gold and silver of Zadar shine on a surface area of about 1200 m2 in 8 modernly equipped halls, including the reconstructed interior of the old Croatian Church of St. Nediljica from the 11th century. Also included are manuscripts, sculptures, embroideries, tapestry, reliefs, etc., as evidence of the rich past of Zadar from the 8th to 18th centuries, as a town which was an important cultural center, particularly in the Middle Ages. Joys, hopes, patience, suffering, and faith of the tumultuous era of this region´s history are woven into the relics and chalices, sculptures, paintings, and embroideries.

Museum of Ancient Glass

The museum is one of the city´s newest attractions and rightfully so. It´s housed in the 19th century Cosmacendi Palace and has some outstanding views that overlook the Jazine harbour. The museum contains one of the premium collections of Roman glassware outside Italy, with a cornucopia of goblets, jars and vials retrieved from archaeological sites across Dalmatia.


Highlights include the delicate vessels used by Roman ladies to store perfumes, skin creams and essential oils. Also look out for glass cups used to celebrate Mass, and dainty flasks in which holy water was stored. Take the opportunity to see the replica Roman glassware on sale as you´ll no doubt enter one of the classiest souvenir-stops in the city.


The Museum of Ancient Glass is situated in the renewed Cosmacendi house and an added structure, annex in the courtyard of the existing building which consists of a basement, ground floor, first floor and attic with the surface of 1601,4 m2 (gross). Annex consists of a basement, ground floor and first floor with the surface of 972,8 m2 (gross). Part of the natural terrain is the belonging park. The lot has irregular form, it is situated close to the city walls near the main city entrance (Moro bastion from the 16th century).


In the Zadar nucleus traces of the past are everywhere: walls, towers, imposing gates... The most striking among the towers is Kapetanova kula (Captain’s Tower)From the building which housed the governor´s office and the former armoury (Palace of the Great Captain) leads the path to the south-east, to the small picturesque port of Fosa next to the Land Gate.


The Land Gate was erected in the Renaissance style in 1543, according to the designs of Venetian architect Michele Sanmicheli, in the shape of a triumphal arch with three entrances. At the time they were the main entrance to the city. A wooden bridge on stone posts lead from the Land Gate to the Customs´ Gate (now part of a fish restaurant in the port). The middle arch of the Land Gate bears a sculpted image of a mounted St. Krševan (the coat of arms of the City of Zadar), and a monumental lion of St. Mark above it (the coat of arms of the Venetian Republic).


On the other side of the Land Gate (Kopnena vrata) was the Citadel (Citadela), the fortress from the 16th century, which defended the town from the land side. Along the port of Fosa leads a paved path by the monumental town walls, and ends on Obala Kralja Petra Kresimira IV, which is a park-promenade, about 1 km long, along the western side of the peninsula.

Five Wells Square

The Square is located on a site between the medieval City Walls and the Renaissance bastion Grimani, where the oldest park in Croatia is located. The Square features exactly what its name suggests – five wells lined up in a row.


In the Middle Ages there was a defensive ditch below the old city walls. During the 16th century, the Venetians helped the city withstand Turkish sieges by building a large water cistern with five ornamental wellheads, giving the square its name. 


The pentagonal Captain´s tower leaning against the City Walls with the cornice is the only one left from ten similar towers located on the margins of the medieval city. The Captain´s Tower is named after the nearby residence of the city captain and it was built by the Venetians to strengthen the city against Turkish attacks. Today, the Tower houses the exhibition premises and a belvedere providing a beautiful view over the city.


The park named after Queen Jelena Madije, built on top of the Grimaldi bastion is not only the city´s oldest park. Founded by Austrian commander Baron Franz Ludwig von Welden in 1829, a passionate botanist and admirer of Dalmatian flora, it was the first public park in Croatia. To create a garden on top of a military object was an unusual move, but one Zadar is eternally grateful for.


 While the wells are no longer in use, the Square has become a popular place for concerts and events, but it is also one of the best places to start long romantic walks in Zadar.

Narodni trg (People Square)

Narodni Trg is the centre of public life in Zadar from the Renaissance until today. On the site of the Large Square, platea magna, the foundations of municipal institutions were laid in the early Middle Ages.


Afterwards, the City Lodge and the Church of St. Peter the New were erected here. They were destroyed by the authorities during the Venetian reign in the 15th century. The 16th century saw the building of City Guard (Gradska straža) with the city clock tower, while a new City Loggia was erected on the site of the old one.


On the northern side of the Square is the City Guard (Gradska straža) from 1562, designed by a Venetian architect Michele Sanmicheli in the late Renaissance style. The large central clock tower was erected at the beginning of the19th century with a surrounding stone barrier and railing with holes for cannons. The building once housed the Ethnographic Section of the National Museum, one of the most important collections in the country, and worth seeing for the rich colours of local national costumes, textiles (weaving and lace), jewellery, agricultural, fishing and household objects.


Kalelarga, also known as the Wide Street (Široka ulica), is the main and most famous street in the city of Zadar. Some people say it is even older than the city itself, spreading in the direction west - east from People´s Square (Narodni trg) to the city’s famous Forum which features a number of Roman items.


To this day it follows the print of the main longitudinal roman street (Decumanus Maximus) - this is the main city street that even then flowed through the spine of the peninsula. It existed, therefore, before the city. The strict roman urbanization simply proved its natural placement, and future urban time periods did not change anything in that respect.


 In the Second World War almost all the buildings in the street were destroyed or severely damaged in the bombing, as such it was renovated in the Modern style, retaining only its main direction.


Riva is a city promenade with a view of the Zadar Channel, the islands of Ugljan and Pašman and the open sea to the northwest.


The promenade was constructed in 1874 after the city fortification walls were torn down and the city´s outright development towards the sea began. Instead of city walls, the new town quay was built, a fashionable promenade with eighteen residential and public palaces. A large stone embankment (pier) was built, as a place for anchoring of fast coastal steamships, such as the famous Baron Gautsch.


Despite immeasurable loss due to dismantling of the ramparts, the New Town Quay (Nova riva) has changed the panorama of the city and become its new asset. The public life of Zadar was thus relocated from the squares and streets to the quay, with a number of fashionable hotels, restaurants, coffee houses, public and cultural institutions, but also because of the attractiveness of huge steamships coming into dock, first-class social events and picturesque sailing boats. During World War II many of these buildings were damaged or destroyed in the bombardment, and were later either reconstructed or partially replaced by horticulture.