Zadar is a beautiful and historic city with an edge in Croatia. With Roman ruins, thirty-four old churches and a plethora of historic buildings to be found in the old town, wandering around its center is a peaceful endeavor. In this post, we will give you a list of the must-visit places in Zadar.
Must-visit Places in Zadar
1. St. Donatus’ Church
This early Byzantine church was built all the way back in the year 800 and remains in a near-perfect state of preservation. Over time St. Donatus’s tall, rounded outline has become a symbol and a source of pride for Zadar, the first building you’ll see on postcards. You don’t have to be an amateur historian to appreciate the primitive beauty of this pre-romanesque building. These days the church is a venue for renaissance music performances, the 27-meter-high walls complementing the sound perfectly. The church was built on the Roman Forum, and building material from this site was used in its construction.
2. Sea Organ
Jutting out into the sea and located right at the tip of the peninsula on which Zadar’s old town is based, the Sea Organ is an amazing art installation that will captivate and enchant visitors. It is a must thing to do when visiting Zadar.
Installed in 2005 by Nikola Basic, this unique and distinctive art piece is an organ that is played by the power of the waves. Its 35 organ pipes emit soothing sounds; sitting on the marble steps that border the water is a heavenly experience as the sun dips into the sea at the end of the day.
Ingenious in design, the Sea Organ helped breathe new life into the city’s waterfront and is now a very popular hangout spot with tourists and locals alike.
3. Roman Forum
With years of Roman rule under its belt, Zadar has its share of columns that pop up throughout the city where you least expect them. The Roman Forum is where travelers can get an inside look at what public life was like in this medieval city. See the ruins of a temple dedicated to Jupiter, the towering ‘Pillar of Shame’, and more. This is one of the must-visit places in Zadar you shouldn’t miss when traveling.
4. St Anastasia’s Cathedral
Located on the site of an ancient Christian basilica that dates all the way back to the fourth century, St Anastasia’s Cathedral is absolutely gorgeous, with a lovely Romanesque facade and looming bell tower. Consecrated in 1117, its interior has some fragments of early-Christian mosaics for you to enjoy, in addition to a wonderful altar and crypt.
When visiting the cathedral, a climb to the top of its huge bell tower is a must; it offers up a stunning view of Zadar. Located right in the historic center of the city, St Anastasia’s Cathedral is one of the most impressive buildings in Zadar.
5. City Walls and Gates
Zadar has the distinction of never falling to the Ottomans and this is down to the formidable defense system that the Venetians constructed in the 1500s. A great deal of the cities is still defended by a continuous curtain of white limestone, interrupted by two original gates: The Land Gate and Sea Gate. The Land Gate is still as striking today as it must have been half a millennium ago. It resembles a Roman Triumphal Arch, and the Venetian symbol, the Lion of St. Mark still strides proudly above the entranceway. The Sea Gate is close to the ferry port and is a little more modest.
6. Narodni trg
Known in English as ‘People’s Square’, Narodni trg has long been at the center of public life in Zadar. The beautiful square certainly is magnificent to behold, with its fine old buildings and dazzling white flagstones.
Drenched in history, the square is home to the impressive clock tower of the City Guard building and the lovely 11th-century church of St Lawrence – among others. The City Loggia often hosts some fantastic exhibitions. With art, history, and culture all on offer, Narodni trg has something for everyone to enjoy. The cafes in the square are the perfect place from which to take in all of the sights.
7. Museum of Ancient Glass
Croatia is flush with Roman heritage and many of the glass items recovered from digs have ended up at this contemporary museum in the stately confines of the Cosmacendi Palace, which dates to the 1800s. In modern displays, you’ll see drinking vessels, cups for mass, jars, and intricate little vials used to contain anything from skin creams to medicine. You can brush up on the history of glassmaking in Croatia and throughout the day there are glass-blowing demonstrations, so you’ll see firsthand how these delicate items were crafted. And at the end of the tour, you can visit the shop to purchase some glassware made the ancient way.