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Zadar: Things to See  

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Zadar's Western Quay
Zadar's Riva

Zadar's Roman ruins
Roman ruins

Zadar Day Trips

 

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It's easy to appreciate Zadar sights because the historical centre is a compact pedestrian zone, perfect to explore on foot and discover Zadar's history.

[See a map of Zadar]

Walking Tour

Venetian Highlights

Begin your tour of Zadar by admiring the defensive walls that protect the city on three sides. They were built first by the Venetians in the 16th century as a defense against the Turks, then reinforced at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century. The oldest part of the walls is on the eastern side where a footbridge connects the old town with the newer parts.

There are four medieval gates. The 16th century Port Gate, opposite the footbridge on Zadar's northern quay was built in 1573 to celebrate the victory of the Christian fleet over the Turks at Lepanta two years prior. The coat of arms of Zadar is in relief with a carved statue of St Krsevan on horseback.

Zadar Port Gate

Zadar's main southern entrance is the ornate, late-Renaissance Land Gate dating from 1543 with a snarling Venetian lion over an effigy of St Grisogonus on horseback. The coats of arms and inscriptions adorning this imposing gate seem ready to welcome visitors of the highest importance.

Zadar Port Gate

No matter which gate a visitor entered, a road leads to Narodni trg or People's Square.

Narodni Trg

This stately square is where medieval proclamations were made as early as the 13th century. The City Guardhouse (above) is a fine example of late Renaissance architecture.

Nearby is Saint Anastasia's Cathedral (Katedrala Sv. Stosije)

Zadar Cathedral

It's the biggest cathedral in Dalmatia, dating mostly from the 12th century and built on the site of an early Christian church. The facade is adorned with rows of blind arcades which stress the three-aisle structure. The large rose-window is Romanesque and the smaller one above it is in the Gothic style. The relics of St Anastasia lie in a marble sarcophagus on the altar in the left apse. Bishop Donat commissioned the repository in the 9th century.

Just a few steps away is the Museum of Church Art.

Zadar Museum of Church Art

Located in a former Benedictine convent, this museum is devoted to all sorts of religious art including reliquaries, paintings, sculpture and embroidery. The collection is truly impressive and vividly conveys how rich and powerful Zadar once was.

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Head back toward the Land Gate and you'll come to the Trg 5 Bunara (Square of the 5 Wells).

Zadar's Five Wells

The square is built on top of a moat. In order to withstand a possible siege by the Turks, a cistern was built here in the 16th century. The square is bounded by a leafy park constructed in the 19th century.

Roman Highlights

A tour of Zadar's Roman highlights begins at the Roman Forum.

Zadar Forum

The Roman forum dates from the 1st century BC. Construction continues until the 3rd century AD. It's the largest forum in Croatia. Notice the pillar on the north-western side called the "Pillar of Shame". It's where evildoers were chained and humiliated in the Middle Ages.

[See a detailed guide to all Roman highlights in Zadar]

The forum is now dominated by the Church of Saint Donat, Zadar's most recognizable monument.

St Donat Church

This round pre-Romanesque church dates from around the 9th century and has become a sort of symbol of Zadar. First mentioned by Emperor Constantine in the 10th century, the church was named after the bishop who allegedly instigated its construction. With a round, central building and three semi-circular apses, its features are most unusual. Now de-consecrated, it's largely empty inside but the excellent acoustics have made it Zadar's premier concert hall.

modern highlights

Now take a walk along obala Kresimira IV, or Riva the southwestern quay. The tree lined waterfront promenade is a popular hangout for locals and visitors. By day it's perfect for sunbathing, picnicking or even taking a quick dip in the water all to the tune of the Sea Organ, designed by local architect Nikola Basic.

Sea Organ, Zadar

This unusual organ is powered by the wind and the sea. When the sea pushes air through the whistles, a series of melancholy chords are played, with the sound emerging through the perforated stone stairs. You have to hear it to believe it!

[Listen to the Sea Organ]

But it's when the sun dims that Riva is the only place to be. It was here that Alfred Hitchcock once remarked that Zadar's sunsets were among the world's finest. Enhancing the experience is the remarkable Greeting to the Sun also designed by Nikola Basic.

Sun Salutation

This circle of glass collects the sun's rays by day, stores the energy, and emits it as a magical light show after dark.

[Why you must see the Greeting to the Sun]

other Churches, Museums, Monuments

Church of Saint Simeon (Crkva Sv. Sime)
The church was mentioned for the first time in 1190 but most of it dates from the 16th and 17th centuries. The facade was finished in 1632 and the bell tower dates from 1707. Inside is the sarcophagus of St Simeon, a masterpiece of medieval craftsmanship. The tomb was commissioned in 1377 and built by a local goldsmith and his assistants. The coffin is made from cedar and gilded inside and out with pure silver. The scenes depict the legends and miracles of the saint.

Archaeological Museum
Most interesting is the model of Zadar under Roman rule but the prehistoric pottery fragments and remnants of Illyrian Zadar are also worthwhile.

Related Pages

Things to Do in Zadar

 

Zadar Sea Organ

 

Greeting to the Sun, ZadarZadar Sun Greeting

 

Roman capital, ZadarRoman Ruins in Zadar

 

Zadar Travel Planner

 

Accommodation in Zadar

 

Zadar History

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