TOP 10 ATTRACTIONS IN ZADAR
Welcome to Zadar!
The city of Zadar is situated in the heart of the Adriatic, and it is not just an urban centre of northern Dalmatia but with its administrative, economic, cultural and political importance it constitutes the centre of the region with 92.000 inhabitants. Combining the beauties of the past and preferences of modern-day tourism, it offers numerous tourist attractions: if you are looking for an ideal accommodation, autochthon gourmet delicacies, cultural monuments, modern-day sports facilities or various excursion programs, you have found a perfect destination for leisure, sports and fun. This city of exceptional 3000-years old history and extremely valuable cultural heritage, will always offer something new and original.
Here is a list with the top ten attractions and sights in Zadar that no traveler should miss:
The musical Sea Organ is located on the shores of Zadar, and is the world’s first musical pipe organs that is played by the sea. Simple and elegant steps, carved in white stone, were built on the quayside. Underneath, there are 35 musically tuned tubes with whistle openings on the sidewalk. The movement of the sea pushes air through, and – depending on the size and velocity of the wave – musical chords are played. The waves create random harmonic sounds. This masterpiece of acoustics and architecture was created by expert Dalmatian stone carvers and architect Nikola Basic in 2005, who recently received the European Prize for Urban Public Space for this project. Many tourists come to listen to this unique aerophone, and enjoy unforgettable sunsets with a view of nearby islands. Famed director Alfred Hitchcock said that the most beautiful sunset in the world can be seen from precisely this spot on the Zadar quay. That was how he described it after his visit to Zadar, a visit he remembered throughout his life by the meeting of the sinking sun and the sea.
After the world-known Sea Organs, Zadar has become wealthier with one more urban installation. At the very end of the Zadar peninsula, next to the famous Sea Organs, shines the Greeting to the Sun made by the same architect Nikola Basic. 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 Museum of Ancient Glass 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.
Within the structure to the church of St. Mary, or more specfically her monastery 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 city has enjoyed various periods of flowering of arts and culture, and the work of local gold and silversmiths (including Italians and Venetians resident in the city) is absolutely stunning, spanning the millennium between the 8th and 18th Centuries. The collection includes reliquaries for either entire saints or parts of them (e.g. hands, arms and heads), crucifixes, paintings, and vestements interwoven with gold and silver thread. The collection is presented in intimate and atmospheric surroundings, and is guaranteed to leave the most resolute non-believer awestruck.
The Musical Evenings at St. Donat has been a part of Zadar’s culture for half a century. The breathtaking Roman ruins at Zadar’s forum becomes a stage for performers worldwide, offering concerts held on the open, under the stars, where Zadar has already welcomed big names such as Natalie Cole and Jose Carreras.
St. Donat's Church, the symbol of the city of Zadar, is one of the most famous churches in Croatia. It was built in the 9th century and due to its' peculiar shape it is special in Europe as well. This round pre-Romanesque church which was called the Church of the Holy Trinity until the 15th c., carries from that time on the name of Saint Donat, by the bishop who had it built. Today its space is used, due to its extraordinary acoustic features, for musical performances ("Musical Evenings at St. Donat").
Kalelarga or Large Street, the main and most famous street in Zadar is said to be older than the city itself, extending in the east-west direction from People’s Square to the Forum. During the Second World War almost all the buildings in the street were destroyed. Later the street was renewed in the contemporary style, keeping only its basic direction. For the citizens of Zadar it is more than just the name of the main street. It is a cult space and one of the symbols of the city that wakes memories of lovely moments and events as a place of meeting, entertainment and relaxing, processions and folk ceremonies, and even first loves.
The Five Wells Square is located on a site between the medieval City Walls with a cornice and the Renaissance bastion Grimani where the city park is situated. In the Middle Ages there was a defence ditch. During the 16th century, the Venetians helped the city withstand Turkish sieges by building a large drinking water cistern with five ornamental wellheads, after which the square was named. The pentagonal Captain's tower leaning against the wall 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 Madijevka, built on top of the Grimaldi bastion is not the city's oldest. 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.
In the Zadar nucleus traces of the past are everywhere: walls, towers, imposing gates... The most striking among the towers is Captain’s Tower, while among the gates, Land Gate – a late Renaissance masterpiece. 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). On the other side of the Land Gate was the Citadel, 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.
Zadar has been cherishing for centuries the traditional and quality liqueur production. Already at the beginning of the 16th century pharmacists from the Dominican monastery in Zadar made and extraordinary liqueur called "Rosoglio" and which was made from the bitter sour cherry marasca that best grows in the surroundings of Zadar. The tradition has continued in the Zadar liqueur factory producing the Zadar Maraschino according to the old recipes, known all around the world – a liqueur in whose taste and scent are condensed the secrets of the mysterious and incontestable sour cherry marasca that substituted its Asian habitat with the Dalmatian karst and the red soil full of sun and bora wind.
The Night of the Full Moon is an event, a festival of culture, cuisine and customs of the Zadar region – a time machine available to everyone. Zadar's annual lunar celebration begins at dusk. The town's inhabitants turn off their lights and congregate on the candlelit Riva, Zadar's promenade, to enjoy a night of Croatian music, food and folklore. Boats are transformed into floating markets selling fish, cheese and fruits from all corners of the Dalmatian region, while down on the beach, revellers sing and dance 'til daybreak. If you are unable to visit the Zadar surroundings or the Zadar islands to learn about the local folklore and customs, be sure to visit the Night of the Full Moon. You will be impressed.