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. After the year 59 B.C. Zadar became a Roman municipium, and in 48 B.C. a colony of Roman citizens. During Roman rule Zadar acquired the characteristics of a city with a regular road network, a main square – forum, and next to it an elevated capitolium with a temple. In the 7th century Zadar became the center (capital) of the Byzantine theme (province) of Dalmatia.
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Things to do
Zadar is one of the real undiscovered treasures of the Dalmatian coast, rich in history and natural beauty. Thankfully, with the rise of the nearby airport, it is slowly coming onto the international radar. Here are a few things not to miss.
One of the more unusual attractions in Dalmatia is the sea organ in Zadar, a unique opportunity for you to enjoy a private concert with the lapping waves and an ingenious piece of design which won architect Nikola Basic the European Prize for Urban Public Space in 2006.
Following the somewhat chaotic reconstruction of Zadar after the devastation of World War II, the waterfront assumed something of a monotonous, concrete look, something that Basic tackled as part of his project to redesign the new riva in the mid-2000s. He created a structure which interacts with the approaching waves, causing random but harmonious noises, and underneath the marble steps is an intricate system of polythene tubes and cavities which combine to provide a rather unusual orchestra, conducted by the wind and the sea. Don't miss it.
Museum of Glass
Zadar is a city rich in heritage, and one of its premier attractions is the outstanding Museum of Glass, a recent addition to Zadar's rich tourism scene. It is housed in the 19th century Cosmacendi Palace and has some outstanding views over 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.
Dalmatian sunsets are legendary, but nowhere does it better than Zadar. Don't believe us? After another hard day at the beach, simple choose your spot with a refreshing cocktail, and relax in the natural beauty of Dalmatia - a stress-free zone.
For all its history and heritage, Zadar is surrounded by astonishing natural beauty, and there are no less than four national parks and three nature parks within striking distance of the city. No visit to Zadar would be complete without a visit to the Kornati Islands, but it would also be a shame to miss out on the parks of Krka, Plitvice and Paklenica. Not forgetting of course the nature parks of Telascica, Velebit and Vrana Lake.
Walking Tour of Zadar
Of course, the old town of Zadar has many fascinating secrets of the pat to be uncovered, and guided walking tour of the old town is an excellent way to learn more about the destination, such as the one offered by Tours by Locals (http://www.toursbylocals.com/Zadar-Tours):
Begin your day marvelling at the tremendous 16th century fortifications that still guard parts of the city, then wander around Zadar's ancient Roman Forum. Learn about Zadar's long and tumultuous history as your guide walks with you through the narrow traffic-free streets to the heart of Old Town. Here you can visit the beautiful Byzantine churches of St Donat, St Francis and St Simon, and shop at the lively local fruit market. Finish your tour at the unique Sea Organ - a series of musical steps leading to the ocean.