Zadar is a beautiful, modern Mediterranean city in Croatia. It has been a significant city since prehistoric times because of its excellent geographical position. Being located in central Croatia, Zadar is well connected by sea, land and air with the rest of the country as well as the rest of the world. Also, because of its beauty, cultural heritage, beautiful architecture and excellent indentedness of its coastline and nearby islands, Zadar is a strong tourist center of the country. Every year since Croatia’s independence, there has been an increase in the number of tourist arrivals.
The area of today’s Zadar has been inhabited since prehistoric times. In the Stone Age, people inhabited this area, which is supported by many archaeological discoveries. Later, the area was occupied by the Illyrians. The Illyrians existed in these areas for a very long time and were divided into several tribes. For example, there were Liburnians who we know were an ancient maritime ethno group that lived in southwestern Croatia along the northeastern Adriatic between the rivers Rasa and Krka, mainly in Kvarner and northern Dalmatia up to the Velebit coast. To the west of them were the Histri, north to the hinterland of Japodi, and east to the Dalmatians.
The Liburnians were contemporaries of the Italian Etruscans and Levant Phoenicians, so this is the earliest clearly confirmed and described ethnogroup on the Croatian territory, which has been cited there since the 9th century BC. The Liburnians were the Illyrian tribe that lived in present-day Zadar until the second century BC and the arrival of the Roman conquerors in this area. Rome soon conquered the whole of Dalmatia but also the Mediterranean and ruled this region firmly. It is important to note that the Colony of Roman Citizens – Colonia Julia Jader from 48 BC; most probably is founded by Julius Caesar personally. Zadar thus became an independent municipality, mostly by retired Roman soldiers, to whom the land for cultivation was awarded.
A kind of city to enjoy the well-deserved retirement of the ancient Romans. Thus, Zadar met all the standards of the then Roman city. So he had a water supply system, a sewer system, a Forum, an economic square (Emporium), a spa and other features of a highly developed urban city. The city remained under Roman rule until the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 6th century and the coming of the Byzantine Empire. Between the 4th and the 6th centuries, a new religion has arrived in Zadar, Christianity, and the city was affected by the terrible earthquake that destroyed most of the monumental Roman buildings. In the 7th century after the devastation of Salona (Solin), near today’s Split the breakthroughs of Avars and Slavs continued.
Zadar was not spared on their campaign either, but it is the only city that has been able to resist them and remain free in the entire Dalmatia and beyond. Therefore, as the only free city under Byzantine rule, it became a kind of center of the Byzantine province of Dalmatia. At the beginning of the tenth century, Zadar began negotiations with the Croats to unite into a single entity, and after some time it succeeded peacefully. Namely, Zadar, like the rest of Croatia in 1105, recognized King Koloman as his Croat-Hungarian king. Shortly thereafter, clashes with Venice began. Zadar was badly hit in 1202 when Crusaders who had no money to pay for the transport to Venetians in order to take them to Egypt at the urging of Venetian Doge Enrico Dandolo, devastated the city to the ground and killed many of its inhabitants. The people of Zadar, however, were later able to recover and escape the Venetian boot.
After Ludovik’s death, Zadar acknowledges the rule of King Sigmund of Luxembourg and then Ladislav of Naples, who in 1409, seeing that he was increasingly losing influence in Dalmatia, sold Zadar and its dynastic rights to Dalmatia to Venice for 100,000 ducats. Thus, Venice retook Zadar on July 31, 1409, this time without a fight, but with the tensions and resistance of the Zadar nobility, which were stifled by the persecution and seizure of property. Later in the 16th and 17th centuries, because of the constant threat from the Turkish invaders, Zadar built new defensive walls that, due to their size, require the demolition of many houses and settlements, thus altering the complete view of the city.
After building these powerful pentagonal forts for 40 years, Zadar becomes the best fortified city in the entire Venetian Republic with a system of forts, bastions, defense channels filled with the sea and new large public city tanks. After the fall of Venice in 1797, Zadar and Dalmatia were annexed to Austria, but the first Austrian rule over Zadar lasted only until 1806.
After this period, Zadar peacefully comes under the rule of Napoleon. Although Napoleon ruled the area for a very short time, only until 1813, this period was very significant for Zadar, because at that time there were a number of significant new institutions in the city. For example, the University of Zadar was rebuilt (study of medicine, lower and higher surgery, pharmacy, law, construction and geodesy), which certainly contributed to the further development of the city and its population after stagnation due to the 150-year Turkish threat.
After 1813, Austria returned to power and Zadar continued to develop further. Then many parks, museums, theaters, roads and railways were built. After the defeat of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, Zadar was conquered again and annexed by the Italians. After that, the administrative center of Dalmatia becomes Split, which remains to this day. After the outbreak of World War II, Zadar was heavily bombed and destroyed almost to the ground. After the end of World War II, Zadar is liberated and falls under the part of Croatia that was then part of socialist Yugoslavia, led by Marshal Tito. After the independence of Croatia from Yugoslavia, Zadar remained part of the Republic of Croatia, and so it is today.
St. Donat’s Church – The most famous and certainly the most important monument of the city is the church of St. Donat, which is also the patron saint of the city of Zadar. It was built in the early Middle Ages, namely at the beginning of the 9th century. Initially, it was named Holy Trinity Church. Later in the 15th century it was renamed the Church of St. Donated by the bishop who had built it. It is circular in shape and therefore a very recognizable symbol of the city and is found on many postcards and other souvenirs.
Forum – Below the foundations of the church of Sv. Donatos and Episcopal palaces stretches the pavement of the main square from Roman times – Forum. Its beginnings date back to the 1st century BC. On three sides, the Forum was surrounded by a monumental porch adorned with acanthus tendrils, garlands and masquerades.
Kalelarga – Kalelarga or Broad Street is the main and most famous Zadar street, stretching east-west from Narodni trg to Forum. In World War II, almost all the buildings on the street were destroyed, and it was rebuilt in a modernist style while maintaining only the basic direction.
In addition to the aforementioned monuments, one should also mention the Church of St. Stosiah, the Church of St. Andrew and St. Peter, the Church and Franciscan Monastery of St. Francis, the Archaeological Museum, National Square. Of interest, we will mention the two most attractive to us, which are certainly the Sea Organ and Greetings to the Sun.
The Sea organs – designed by architect Nikola Bašić, are located near the new cruise ship dock within the Zadar waterfront, and are recognizable as a specially shaped shoreline in several rows of stairs descending towards the sea. The stairs extend to about seventy meters of shore, below which, at the level of the lowest sea level, 35 pipes of various lengths, diameters and slopes are installed perpendicularly to the shore, rising obliquely to the coastal paving and ending in a channel (service corridor). There are LABIUMs on the tubes, which play 7 chords of 5 tones. Above the canal are stone steps through which sound emerges, air suppressed by the sea.
Hello to the Sun – it is located on the Istrian coast, at the westernmost point of the Zadar peninsula, next to the Sea Organ. From here you can see the channel of Zadar, the islands and the sunset, whose beauty in Zadar is especially famous. The Greetings to the Sun consists of three hundred multi-layered glass panels, flush with a 22-meter-diameter circular waterfront. Below the glass conductive panels are photovoltaic solar modules through which symbolic communication with nature, ie with the sun, is realized. At sunset, the lighting elements incorporated in the circle are switched on and, in a specially programmed scenario, produce an extremely impressive light game in the rhythm of the waves and sounds of the Sea Organ.
Likewise, when we talk about Zadar we cannot but mention sport. Zadar is truly a phenomenon in terms of the amount of top athletes who were born there. Football, basketball and sailing are most prevalent in this city. One of the most famous athletes in Zadar is certainly the Real Madrid and Croatian national football player Luka Modric.
All in all, if a trip brings you to Croatia, be sure to visit Zadar and be sure you will not regret it, because this is a truly unique city that offers so much in a relatively small area.
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