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Zadar, Croatia

History spanning over 3000 years

Located on the beautiful Dalmatian coast, Zadar is proving to be a true gem among Croatia’s top destinations. With a history spanning over 3000 years, this ancient Roman city has an irresistible charm that blends historical landmarks with vibrant modernity. The second largest city in Dalmatia, Zadar pulsates with urban energy. Step into the heart of the Old Town, which is set on a peninsula surrounded by ancient city walls, and embark on a journey through time and tradition. Stroll along the historic Kalelarga street – the city’s main street, and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere that blends perfectly with the rhythm of local life. Discover architectural gems such as the Church of St Donatus and the Cathedral of St Anastasia, testament to Zadar’s rich heritage. But the magic doesn’t end there; head to the stunning Riva promenade at sunset to witness the breath-taking spectacle of the Greeting to the Sun attraction, accompanied by the unique melodies of the iconic Sea Organ.

Zadar is proving to be a true gem among Croatia's top destinations. The second largest city in Dalmatia, Zadar pulsates with urban energy.

The Sea Organ and Greeting to the Sun
A visit to Zadar is not just about exploring its storied past; it’s also about embracing the present, especially with the remarkable art installations scattered throughout the city. At the forefront of these installations is the famous Sea Organ, a captivating musical masterpiece designed by architect Nikola Bašić. Installed along the seafront, this architectural piece transforms the crashing waves into a fascinating symphony, creating an unforgettable sensory experience for visitors. As each wave interacts with the underwater pipes, a unique melody is created, ensuring that no two moments at the Sea Organ are ever the same.
One of the most popular modern attractions in Zadar is also Greeting to the Sun installation, located next to the Sea Organ on the city’s waterfront. This unique installation consists of a large circle embedded with 300 multi-layered solar panels that absorb sunlight during the day. As the sun sets, the panels light up in a dazzling array of colours, creating a stunning light show that mirrors the natural beauty of the sunset. The sunset scene in this very spot is one of the best you can find in Croatia. Both tourists and locals gather here every evening to witness this breath-taking spectacle, making it a must-see destination in Zadar.

St Donatus church & the Roman Forum
The Church of St. Donatus in Zadar, originally dedicated to the Holy Trinity, stands as a monumental medieval landmark built in the 9th century. Famous for its exceptional acoustics, the church now hosts musical events, such as the Musical Evenings in St. Donatus, which celebrate early music from the Middle Ages, Renaissance, and early Baroque periods. Despite lacking its original southern annex demolished in 1930, the central circular core remains, revealing ancient materials like fragments of pillars and architectural elements embedded in its foundations. With roots in Byzantine architecture, the church’s cylindrical shape and double-layered interior make it a unique and cherished symbol of Zadar’s rich cultural heritage.
Zadar’s Roman Forum, where Roman ruins emerge from the city’s streets, is a testament to the city’s ancient past, dating back to the 1st century BC. Among the ruins, an intact Roman column once served as a post of shame, while nearby altars with reliefs of Jupiter Ammon and Medusa offer insights into ancient rituals. It’s thought that this area once housed a temple dedicated to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva from the 1st century BC. Open for public, a stroll through this historic site provides a fascinating insight into Zadar’s rich heritage.

Kalelarga Street
To feel the real “hearbeat” of Zadar Old Town, just take a leisurely stroll down Kalelarga Street, the central street of the historic peninsula, and let the city’s history unfold with every step you take. Although officially called Široka ulica (the Wide Street), it’s known as Kalelarga, a literal translation. Since its Roman origins, the street has undergone several name changes, all of which essentially mean ‘wide street’ in the Venetian dialect once spoken in Zadar and Dalmatia. Ironically, Kalelarga wasn’t originally as wide as it is today, measuring just 5 metres compared to its current 13 metres. This iconic street cuts through the heart of Zadar, effectively dividing the historic peninsula in two. Legend has it that it is older than the city itself, probably dating back to before the Romans transformed it into the main road. Today it leads us to the city’s most beautiful attractions, as well as fantastic cafes, pastry shops and restaurants. Stop for an ice cream, browse for souvenirs and soak up the atmosphere.

Zadar Arhipelago
The Zadar Archipelago is the island group that stretches across northern Dalmatia, gravitating towards the city of Zadar. It is a unique phenomenon of over a hundred islands and islets in a relatively small area, making it possible to find a similar rugged coastline only in Greece throughout the entire Mediterranean. The jewel of the Zadar Archipelago is Kornati National Park, comprising 89 uninhabited islands. However, larger islands like Dugi Otok, Ugljan, Pag, or Pašman also offer typical archipelago experiences: numerous secluded spots, coves, and beaches where one can spend a day in idyllic peace, silence, and solitude. Most of the islands in the Zadar Archipelago are uninhabited, allowing visitors traveling by boat to encounter numerous landscapes and settings still presented in a naturally authentic form without any human interference.

Top activities in Zadar

  • Watch the spectacular sunset from the Sea Organ and Greeting to the Sun
  • Explore the historic old town, its narrow streets and ancient squares
  • Visit the iconic St Donatus Church and the Forum area
  • Take a walk down Kalelarga, Zadar’s main street and soak up the vibrant atmosphere
  • Explore Zadar’s rich cultural heritage at the Museum of Ancient Glass or the Archaeological Museum
  • Relax on Zadar’s beautiful beaches, such as Kolovare Beach or Borik Beach, and take a dip in the crystal-clear waters
  • Taste the local cuisine at traditional restaurants and taverns, where you can enjoy delicious seafood dishes and Dalmatian specialities

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