Location: Zadar County   Map


Description of Zadar

Zadar or Zara (in Latin: Iadera, in Hungarian: Zára) is a city of the Dalmatian region in modern Croatia. Capital of the county of Zadar, in the center of the country and in front of the islands Ugljan and Pašman, of which it is separated by the Strait of Zadar. It has 85,000 inhabitants. This ancient city was first mentioned in the 4th century BC. The location of this strategic harbour allowed the city grow and thrive over centuries. This city is also a seat of Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Zadar. The city has a mild Mediterranean climate with mild winters and very warm, dry summers. The best time to visit the city is from May till September. July and August are particularly hot and dry. Ironically this also concise with large tourist crowds that come in these months of the year.


Travel Destinations in Zadar

Church of Saint Donatus (Zadar)

It is the most famous monument and symbol of the city of Zadar, and also the most famous monumental building in Croatia from the early Middle Ages. It was built on the traditions of early Byzantine architecture in the early Middle Ages, most likely in the early 9th century. It is circular in shape and has not been preserved in the shape as it was originally built. It lacks a southern annex, so its central circular core is visible from that side. Until the 15th century, the church of Sv. Trinity, and since then bears the name of St. Donat, by the bishop who had it built. The church was first mentioned in the middle of the 10th century in the writings of the Byzantine emperor Constantine Porphyrogenitus. Today, due to its outstanding acoustic characteristics, its space is used for music programs ("Musical Evenings in St. Donat").


Church of Saint Anastasia/ Zadar Cathedral (Zadar)


Below the foundations of the church of Sv. Donat and the Episcopal Palace stretches the sidewalk of the main square from Roman times - the Forum. Its beginnings date back to the 1st century. before Christ. On three sides, the Forum was surrounded by a monumental porch adorned with acanthus tendrils, garlands and masquerades.

Kalelarga or Široka ulica is the main and most famous street in Zadar, which stretches in the east-west direction from Narodni trg to Forum. During the Second World War, almost all the buildings in the street were destroyed, and it was rebuilt in a modernist style, retaining only the basic direction.


Church of St. Mary
Church of St. Mary belongs to the Benedictine convent of St. Marija, which was founded by the noblewoman Čika in 1066. On the site of a once infamous church, she erected a three-nave church dedicated in 1091. Her daughter Vekenega in the early 12th century. she built a capitular hall and a monumental bell tower. In the church itself there is the tomb of the abbess Vekenge who died in 1111. The monastery archive preserves a very valuable collection of charters in which Croatian kings from the 11th century are mentioned. The facade of the church and its south side wall, as well as the main portal are in the Renaissance style. On the bell tower there is an inscription in memory of Koloman's entry into Zadar in 1102. The church was destroyed in the Anglo-American bombing in World War II, but was successfully reconstructed.

Church of St. Krševana
The three-nave basilica with three richly decorated semicircular apses belonged to the Benedictine monastery. It was built in the Romanesque style and dedicated in 1175, and was named after St. Krševan martyr, protector of the city of Zadar. The facade is simple. In the lower part there are no decorations other than the main portal. The interior of the church is decorated with frescoes of Romanesque-Byzantine characteristics. In the sanctuary there is a monumental main altar built in 1701, on which in 1717 four quality white marble statues were placed, representing the patrons of Zadar. They are the work of the Venetian sculptor Alavisa Tagliapiete. The bell tower began to be built in the late 15th century, but was never completed. The most beautiful part of the facade is the exterior decoration, the apse.

Church of St. Šimuna / Škrinja Sv. Simon
Originally an early Christian three-nave basilica from the 5th century, then the rebuilt church of Sv. Stjepan with Gothic elements from the 14th century, while today's appearance with Baroque details was given in the 16th century. The famous silver chest of St. Simon from 1380 is located on the main altar of the church. The chest is a goldsmith's work of great value, which for the relic of St. Sime was made by the Hungarian-Croatian Queen Elizabeth. The chest was made by the goldsmith Franjo from Milan, who lives in Zadar. South of the church there is a Roman pillar erected in 1729, and it is composed of two pillars of a Roman temple which were kept on the capitol of the Forum until then.

Church and Franciscan monastery of St. Frane
The church is located at the western end of the city. The church is the oldest Dalmatian Gothic church. It was dedicated in 1280. The interior is simple. From the choir one enters the sacristy. Behind the main altar of the church from 1672, there is a former sanctuary and in it the choir seats richly decorated with carvings in the style of floral Gothic from 1394, the work of Gaicom da Borgo Sansepolcra.

The sacristy, which continues to the choir, is important for Croatian history, because in 1358 the Peace of Zadar was concluded between the Venetian Republic and the Hungarian-Croatian King Louis of Anjou, by which the Venetians renounced their claims to Dalmatia.

Church of Our Lady of Health
It was built in the 18th century in the Baroque style on the site of an older church, as the mausoleum of Archbishop Zmajević. It housed a painting of Our Lady of Kaštela painted by Blaž Jurjev Trogiranin in the 15th century (today it is in the permanent exhibition of church art). It enjoys a great reputation and popularity among many generations of Zadar residents. In the Second World War it was completely destroyed, leaving only a bell tower and a small shrine. It was restored only in 1990 with a valuable donation from the late Msgr. Simeon Duce, who is buried in it.

Church of St. Andrew and St. Peter
Single-nave church of St. Andrew is characterized by a simple facade from the 17th century, and the remains of frescoes of Romanesque-Byzantine characteristics from the end of the 12th century, while the south side wall and apse were built in the 5th century. Its apse is followed by the church of St. Peter with antique elements.

Church and monastery of St. Michael
The facade of the church of Sv. Mihovila is dominated by a relief-decorated Gothic portal from the 14th century. Inside its one-sided interior is an ancient painted semi-relief crucifix from the 13th century. The monastery also houses a small collection of works of art.

Church of St. Dominic
Gothic Church of St. Dominica is located west of the Land Gate. The first university, which was mentioned as far back as 1396, also operated within the monastery.


Church of St. Elijah the Prophet
The Orthodox Church was erected next to the Forum in the 16th century for the needs of Greek sailors and merchants. In the 18th century, it was upgraded and handed over to the Serbian community.

Remains of the church Stomorica
Today, only the foundations of the once six-leafed pre-Romanesque church (originally dedicated to St. Ursula) have been preserved, which also had a dome, and instead of an apse, a rectangular branch with a bell tower was built. It was demolished in the 16th century, archaeologically excavated in 1883, then buried, and finally excavated and preserved in 1966. The story says that the shape of the floor plan of this church, which resembles a key, symbolizes the keys of St. Petra.

City walls (Muraj)
Remains from the Roman era, from the Middle Ages and mostly from the 16th century have been preserved. Next to the ramparts is the medieval "Captain's Tower", and the most picturesque part is located in the southern part near the port of "Foša", where the Land Gate from 1543 (Michele Sanmicheli) is located. Towards the port, near the church of Sv. The Sea Gate from 1573 is located in Krševan.

Permanent exhibition of church art - Gold and silver of the city of Zadar
In the building of the church of Sv. Marija or her monastery, whose buildings were severely damaged during the Second World War, in 1972 a representative exhibition was formed - the Permanent Exhibition of Church Art, and one of the most valuable exhibitions in Croatia, popularly called "Gold and Silver of Zadar".

Zadar Archaeological Museum
Founded in 1832, the archeological remains from the 7th to the 12th century are on display. Exhibits from Roman times and prehistoric archaeological material from the Paleolithic, Neolithic, and Metal Ages are on display.

Narodni trg/ square
Zadar's main square and gathering place. On its western side is the church of St. Lawrence of the 11th century; the building of the City Guard from 1562 and the clock tower from the 18th century, and opposite is the City Lodge from the 13th century. On the north side of the square is the City Hall built in 1934 during the fascist rule.

University of Zadar building
The dominant point of the Zadar panorama from the sea, the magnificent building on the New Waterfront was built in the early 20th century in the neoclassical style for the needs of the Lyceum of St. Demetrius. It also includes the recently renovated chapel of St. Dimitrija.


History of Zadar

From prehistory to Roman times
The wider Zadar area has been inhabited since ancient times. The findings of this earlier culture date back to the Old Stone Age, while in the Neolithic period, archaeological research has identified numerous human settlements. On the outskirts of today's Zadar, such settlements were located in the area of ​​Arbanasi and Puntamika. Before the settlement of the Illyrian tribes, this area was inhabited by the ancient Mediterranean people, from whose pre-Indo-European language the name of the settlement very probably originates - Jader, Jadra or Jadera, which were later taken over by other civilizations. The name of the settlement is related to some ancient hydrographic term.

The Illyrian settlement dates back to the 9th century BC, which dates back to the 7th and 6th centuries BC. an important center of the Illyrian tribe Liburni, for whom the port of Zadar was the starting point for numerous trade trips and a safe anchorage. The Jadasins as the inhabitants of Idassa or Jader are first mentioned in 384 BC. on a Greek inscription from Faros (today's Stari Grad on Hvar) as allies of Hvar's natives in the fight against the newly arrived Greek colonists. The Greek geographer Skilaks Skarianderis mentions Zadar under the name Idassa, Jadar, and calls the inhabitants Jadasins.

In the middle of the 2nd century BC. the Zadar area was gradually conquered by the Romans, who systematically settled in Zadar. The colony of Roman citizens - Colonia Julia Jader was founded in 48 BC. most likely I am Julius Caesar. Zadar became an independent municipality of mostly worn-out Roman soldiers, to whom, in addition to the city itself, the land for cultivation was divided.

Jader was arranged according to all the principles of Roman urbanism: five longitudinal and a number of transverse streets created a regular network of city communications, which divided the city in a strict geometric order into rectangular neighborhoods - insulae. At the western end of the city, the main square was built - the Roman Forum, and next to it a slightly elevated capitol with a temple. Both areas were bordered by a two-storey porch, and an economic square - emporium - was built on the sea-facing area. Roman Jader was protected by strong walls, in several places fortified with monumental towers, and had public water supply with water from 40 km away Vrana, sewer system, thermal baths, amphitheater and other features of highly developed urban life.

Early Middle Ages
During the period of migration and barbarian penetration, Zadar gradually stagnated, and in the 5th century, already under the rule of the Eastern Goths, the city became completely impoverished, and due to dilapidation, many public buildings became ruins. Zadar at that time (6th century) was certainly hit by a severe earthquake in which entire complexes of monumental Roman architecture were destroyed, fragments of which would later serve as building material. In the period between the 4th and 6th centuries, a new religion developed in Zadar - Christianity; the city has its own bishop, a new religious center is being built north of the forum with a basilica and a baptistery, as well as other sacral buildings. After the withdrawal of the Eastern Goths from the area of ​​Dalmatia in 537 and the final fall of the Western Roman Empire, Zadar came under Byzantine rule. At the same time, the invasions of the Avars and Slavs began, which in the early 7th century completely destroyed and devastated Salona, ​​making Zadar, as the only city that resisted the attacks of new invaders, take over the role of the new administrative center of the Byzantine province of Dalmatia. It will retain the role of the capital of Dalmatia until 1918.

At the beginning of the 9th century, a lively diplomatic activity of Bishop Donat and the city prince Pavle in the dispute between the Frankish state of Charlemagne and the Byzantine Empire was recorded in Zadar. Namely, the French briefly conquered Zadar, but by peace in Aachen in 812 the city was returned to Byzantium. Zadar has completely turned to the sea, shipping and trade, and thanks to its new strategic position it is becoming the master of the area from the Kvarner islands to the Kastela Bay. Byzantine Dalmatia was not a territorially unified entity, but a set of urban municipalities led by Zadar, and broad urban autonomy contributed to the development of Dalmatian cities as free communes. In all this, Zadar was in the forefront, whose position at that time was equal to that of Venice.

Zadar in the Middle Ages

At the time of the great rise of medieval Zadar, the city became an increasing obstacle to the ambitions of the more powerful Venice, and in the hinterland the Croatian state was formed and grew. Zadar is gradually establishing first trade and then political ties with Croats, who are increasingly accepted and integrated into city life. In the 10th century, Croatian names were recorded in Zadar, such as priors, judges, priests, nuns and nuns, which testifies that the Croatian ethnic element conquered all city classes. The people of Zadar are making efforts for their own independence from Byzantium, in which the most powerful Zadar patrician family - the Madijevci - is certainly in the forefront. In agreement with Byzantium, Zadar was annexed to other Dalmatian communes by Croatian King Petar Krešimir IV in 1069, and after the dynastic struggles and death of King Dmitar Zvonimir in 1089, Zadar recognized the rule of the first Croatian-Hungarian king Koloman in 1105. Since then, Zadar has been increasingly at war with Venice. For the first time, the Venetians attacked and captured Zadar for 1000 years, and violent attacks and occasional conquests with the resistance and rebellion of Zadar will last until 1358 and the conclusion of the Peace of Zadar.

Zadar was particularly badly damaged in 1202 when the Venetian doge Enrico Dandolo used the Crusaders for an attack and siege on the 4th expedition to Palestine when one of the most cruel crimes in the history of Zadar was committed. The Crusaders undertook to pay the Venetians for transport by ship to Egypt, and since they could not pay them, the Venetians used them to destroy, demolish and plunder Zadar. Croatian-Hungarian King Emeric condemned the crusade because there was a conflict over whether it was orthodox for God's army to attack a Christian city. Zadar, however, was destroyed and conquered, and the population displaced. Pope Innocent III excommunicated the Venetians and the Crusaders who took part in the conquest. After new revolts, the city came under the rule of the Croatian-Hungarian King Louis I (peace in Zadar) in 1358.

The population of Zadar in the developed medieval period was predominantly Croatian, as evidenced by the records of Cardinal Boson, who in 1177 accompanied Pope Alexander III. on the way to Venice. When the papal ships took refuge in the port of Zadar due to the storm, the people of Zadar welcomed the pope by singing in the Croatian language. The period from the 11th to the 14th century, although turbulent and full of sieges and sufferings, was the golden age of Zadar. Through skilful politics and trade, and capable sailors, Zadar secured a key role among the cities on the eastern Adriatic coast, which was reflected in its appearance and culture (numerous churches, rich monasteries, luxurious palaces of prominent families were built, the chest of St. Simon was built). . One of the best examples of the splendor and power of the then Zadar is the first University on Croatian soil, which was founded in 1396 by the Dominicans.

From the 15th to the 18th century
After Louis's death, Zadar recognized the rule of King Sigismund, and then Ladislav of Naples, who in 1409, seeing that he was losing more and more influence in Dalmatia, sold Zadar and his dynastic rights to Dalmatia to Venice for 100,000 ducats. Thus Venice took over Zadar again 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. Zadar is still the administrative center of Dalmatia, this time under Venetian rule, which spread over the entire Dalmatian area (except the Republic of Dubrovnik). The Venetians significantly limited the political and economic autonomy of Zadar, which, despite all this repression, is still a city of pronounced prosperity. At that time, one of the most famous Croatian sculptors and builders was born in Zadar - Juraj Matejev Dalmatinac, famous primarily for his work at the Šibenik Cathedral, then the great names of Renaissance art - brothers Lucijan and Franjo Vranjanin (Laurana), who with their sculptural and architectural works especially celebrated in Italy.

The period of the 16th and 17th centuries was marked in Zadar by the incursions of the Turkish conquerors who conquered the Zadar hinterland at the beginning of the 16th century, and the city itself is almost constantly within range of Turkish artillery. Therefore, the construction of a new system of fortifications and walls began, which significantly changed the appearance of the city. For the needs of building new powerful pentagonal fortifications, many houses and churches were demolished, and even the entire Zadar suburb - the town of Sv. Martina. Upon completion of its 40-year construction, Zadar became the largest fortress city in the Venetian Republic with a system of fortifications, bastions, defensive canals filled with the sea and new large public city cisterns. During the thorough reconstruction of Zadar, a number of completely new public buildings were built (City Lodge and City Guard on the then Lord's Square, several new barracks and warehouses, but also luxurious new palaces).


With generally uncertain weather and a series of Turkish sieges and destructions, a high culture of living developed within the city fortifications. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the activity of Croatian writers who wrote in the vernacular (Jerolim Vidolić, Petar Zoranić, Brne Karnarutić, Juraj Baraković, Šime Budinić) was significant. It is worth mentioning the famous painter Andrija Medulić - Andrea Meldoll (around 1510 / 1515-1563), who signed himself as "Andrea Schiavone" or just "Schiavone".

Due to the constant Turkish threat, the population became significantly thinner and there was a general stagnation of the economy. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the city was plagued by several severe plague epidemics. After more than 150 years of Turkish threat, Zadar has been weakened in terms of humanity, but also materially impoverished. Venice is inhabiting a new population, and under Archbishop Vicko Zmajević, the Arbanassis are settling on three occasions, forming a new settlement in the suburbs. Despite the scarcity, the "Noble Theater" (Teatro Nobile) was built in Zadar in 1783 and will be in operation for more than a hundred years.

After the fall of Venice (1797), Zadar and Dalmatia were annexed to Austria, but the first Austrian rule over Zadar lasted only until 1806.

Zadar in the 19th and 20th centuries
After eight years of rule, Austria ceded Venice, western Istria, Dalmatia and Venetian Albania to Napoleon in peace. French rule over Zadar began in February 1806 and lasted until December 1813. In that short time there were significant social reforms, and a number of new institutions were established, including the renewed University of Zadar (study of medicine, lower and higher surgery, pharmacy, law, construction and geodesy). Already in June 1806, the first newspaper in the Croatian language "Kraljski Dalmatin" was launched in Zadar, which would be published until 1810.

In November 1813, the Austrian siege of Zadar began, aided by British troops, and on December 7, the Austrian army re-entered Zadar. The second Austrian rule lasted until 1918, and Zadar still retains the status of the capital of the Kingdom of Dalmatia and is the seat of the Dalmatian Parliament (founded in 1861) and the church metropolis for the whole of Dalmatia. The administrative functions of Zadar resulted in a larger settlement of foreign bureaucrats (in 1910, 60% of the city's population were Italians). Also, Zadar is the only municipality in Dalmatia where the autonomists have never lost power.

With the Austrian rule, Zadar got a grammar school (1816), the first public park was opened (1829), and the National Museum was founded (1832); In 1833, the road that connected Zadar with Zagreb and Vienna via Velebit was completed, and in 1838 the first modern city water supply system was put into use.

In the second half of the 19th century, Zadar was also the focus of the movement for cultural and national revival in Dalmatia, and this period is of special importance for the history of the city, which is rapidly developing as a modern European city. By decree of the Emperor, Zadar ceased to be a city-fortress in 1868, which quickly affected its urban development. Numerous public and private buildings were built, including the New Theater (later Teatro Verdi) in 1865. Zadar is becoming a city of richly decorated shops and public spaces, luxury cafes and hotels, public libraries and reading rooms. Zadar had 6 printing houses and published about 40 different newspapers and magazines, including Narodni list (1862) - today the oldest living Croatian newspaper. Many important Croatian writers are working in the city again, such as Ivo Vojnović, Rikard Katalinić Jeretov, Milan Begović, Vladimir Nazor and others.

At the end of the century, the processing industry began to develop rapidly in Zadar, especially the production of 33 types of liqueurs, of which Maraschino became known around the world. On New Year's Eve 1894 in Zadar, electric city lighting shone, the first systematically implemented electric network in Croatia.

In the First World War, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy experienced the collapse and disintegration of several states. Thanks to the diplomatic games of the allies in gaining Italy to their side, but also to the unclear position of the negotiators from the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, the Treaty of Rapallo (November 12, 1920) annexed Zadar to Italy as an enclave on the eastern Adriatic coast. Zadar remained part of it until 1945. In 1921 it was declared a free port, and lived through a period of Italian rule in a strange atmosphere of false abundance. It was a period of intensive Italianization and emigration of Croats and the economic decline of the city due to unnatural isolation from the hinterland. The role of the center of Dalmatia is completely taken over by Split.

In World War II, Zadar was exposed to heavy Allied bombing during 1943 and 1944, destroying 80% of the city's historic core.


Finally annexed to Croatia, which was then one of the constituent Yugoslav republics, Zadar welcomed the end of the war almost completely devastated and abandoned, with barely 6,000 inhabitants. After the war, the Italian population, but also a large number of Croats, emigrated to Italy. In their place soon and in large numbers come the inhabitants of the Zadar islands and hinterland.

After the Second World War, the city developed into a strong economic and cultural center, especially after the construction of the Zadar-Knin railway and the establishment of the Faculty of Philosophy. In 1991, Krajina rebels and the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) attacked Zadar, which was then on the edge of the occupied territory. Connections with Zagreb took place exclusively through the island of Pag. Zadar has again experienced serious destruction, including some historic buildings. The siege of Zadar lasted until 1993, when the Zadar hinterland was liberated in the military operation "Maslenica". Occasional attacks on the city continued until 1995, when Operation Storm ended the war in Croatia.