Zadar is a port is situated at the heart of the gorgeous Adriatic Sea, and is an economic, cultural, sightseeing and transport hub for the northern Dalmatian Coast. An historic town blessed with Roman ruins, medieval architecture, and a distinct lack of crowds, Zadar is nevertheless a vibrant, exciting city. Blessed with fun-loving locals, a festive nightlife, but also a rare tranquillity amongst its waterfronts and gardens, this exceptional township is worthy of any Croatian itinerary.
Zadar is a fantastic hub for both urban and nature excursions. The port itself is an island monument, jutting out from the city proper into the Adriatic. Much of the port is very well suited to pedestrians. The walkways, pavements and leafy thoroughfares that wind their way through the stunning architecture are spacious and pristine, meaning a stroll amongst the red-roofed medieval churches and battlements can be made with delightful ease. Although the city itself should be enchanting for sightseers, there is a wealth of attractions to delve into on your visit:
The Cathedral of St. Anastasia
This magnificent cathedral is the largest in the entire Dalmatia region. Built during the 12th and 13th centuries, the Romanesque exterior, iconic bell tower, and carvings were expansions upon the foundations of an ancient Christian basilica. The stone masonry is exceptional, with floral roses adorning the entrance way, and ridged archways dominating the art deco interior. Inside are an astonishing early Christian mosaic, frescoes, and even an authentic inscription made by the Archbishop John in the year 1324. Worth the visit for the architecture alone, but its role in the history and development of Zadar makes it an exceptional attraction.
The Greeting to the Sun
Designed by Nikolai Bašić, the architect of the iconic sea organ- a musical experiment conceived as a way to channel the power of gales and waves into forming unique melodies- this installation is a beguiling attraction with similar aspirations for spectacle. At Istarska Obala, on the very edge of the Zadar peninsula, three hundred layers of glass plates are embedded into the waterfront in a circle which is 22 metres in diameter. Underneath these layers are photo-voltage solar modules, which store the sun's energy throughout the day, only to turn on in the balmy light of dusk and present a stunning light show across the surface of the glass. The multi-hued patterns are programmed mirror the sound of the sea organ and the movement of the waves in an awe-inspiring display of mankind's connection to nature. Not only does this attraction attract tourists from all over the peninsula, but it stores enough solar energy to power not only itself, but the entire waterfront.
The Gold and Silver of Zadar
The Permanent Exhibition of Ecclesiastic Art, or ‘The Gold and Silver of Zadar' as it is known the world over, is an unbelievable collection of religious artifacts that rests within the remarkable façade of St Mary's Monastery. A site heavily damaged by bombing during the Second World War, the monastery now houses an exhibit which sprawls over eight cavernous halls. Pieces include jewelled gold crowns designed by unknown ancient masters of metallurgy, ancient tapestries, manuscripts, varnished wood carvings depicting religious history, and even a reconstruction of a church interior dating back to the 11th century. These priceless treasures have been protected and preserved throughout years despite tumultuous events in the region, by Benedictine nuns to the armed forces. For a fascinating adventure into the heritage of the island, make sure to visit the wonders on display.
Shopping in Zadar
For your shopping needs, the City Galleria is thoroughly modern, spacious, and filled with quality goods at extremely reasonable prices. Like the design of the city streets, the roomy indoor and outdoor markets offer a relaxed look at the local produce of the island, as well as luxury brands of cosmetics and sports equipment. As well as the well-known quality brands on show at the Galleria, there are numerous specialist boutiques to indulge in, such as the Mar&Val Boutique on Don Ive Prodana. Selling a fantastic range of clothing from prominent Croatian designers that are cult staples, the boutique is also home to handbags, jewellery and glass necklaces created in Zadar.
Eating Out in Zadar
Unique Mediterranean dishes and refreshing local beers can be found in the taverns and cafes that fill the narrow medieval streets and the sprawl of Zadar's waterfronts. For fine dining, Kornat offers a friendly, but elegant atmosphere, complimented by polished floors and mahogany chair and tables. The food is as spectacular as the furnishings. National and international specialities, including truffles from Istria and cheese from Prag are all served daily. For a panoramic view of the waterfront, make sure to visit Maestral, where the quality and variety of the seafood is excellent, as well as the balcony seats.