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Zadar is a city in Croatiamarker on the Adriatic Seamarker. It is the centre of Zadar countymarker and the wider northern Dalmatian region. Zadar faces the islands of Ugljanmarker and Pašmanmarker, from which it is separated by the narrow Zadar Strait. The promontory on which the old city stands used to be separated from the mainland by a deep moat which has since become a landfill. The harbor, to the north-east of the town, is safe and spacious. Zadar is the seat of a Catholic archbishop.


In antiquity, Iadera and Iader, the much older roots of the settlement's names were hidden, the names being most probably related to a hydrographical term. It was coined by an ancient Mediterranean people and their Pre-Indo-European language. They transmitted it to later settlers, the Liburnians. The name of the Liburnian settlement was first mentioned by a Greek inscription from Pharos (Stari gradmarker) on the island of Hvarmarker in 384 BC, where the citizens of Zadar were noted as (Iadasinoi). According to the Greek source Periplus of Pseudo-Scylax the city was (Idassa), probably a vulgar Greek form of the original Liburnian name.

During Antiquity the name was often recorded in sources in Latin in two forms: Iader in the inscriptions and in the writings of classic writers, Iadera predominantly among the late Antiquity writers, while usual ethnonyms were Iadestines and Iadertines. The accent was on the first syllable in both Iader and Iadera forms, which influenced the early-Medieval Dalmatian language forms Jadra, Jadera and Jadertina, where the accent kept its original place.

In the Dalmatian language, Jadra (Jadera) was pronounced Zadra (Zadera), due to the phonetic transformation of Ja- to Za-. That early change was also reflected in the Croatian name Zadar, developed from Zadъrъ by vocalizations of the semi-vowel and a shift to male gender. An ethnonym graphic Jaderani from the legend of St. Krševan in 9th century, was identical to the initial old-Slavic form Zadъrane, or Renaissance Croatian Zadrani.

The Dalmatian names Jadra, Jadera were transferred to other languages; in Venetian language Jatara (hyper urbanism in 9th century) and Zara, Tuscan Giara, Latin Diadora (Constantine VII in DAI, 10th century), Old French Jadres (Geoffroy de Villehardouinin in the chronicles of the Fourth Crusade in 1202), Arabic Jadora (Al-Idrisi, 12th century), Iadora (Guido, 12th century), Spanish Jazara, Jara, Sarra (14th century) and the others.

Jadera became Zara when it fell under the authority of the Republic of Venicemarker in the 15th century.Zara was later used by the Austrian Empiremarker in the 19th century, but it was provisionally changed to Zadar/Zara from 1910 to 1920 and finally only Zadar in 1945.



The district of present day Zadar has been populated since prehistoric times. The earliest evidence of human life comes from the Late Stone Age, while numerous settlements have been dated as early as the Neolithic. Before the Illyrians, the area was inhabited by an ancient Mediterraneanmarker people of a pre-Indo-European culture. They assimilated with the Indo-Europeans who settled between the 4th and 2nd millennium BC into a new ethnical unity, that of the Liburnians. Zadar was a Liburnian settlement, laid out in the 9th century BC, built on a small stone islet and embankments where the old city stands and tied to the mainland by the overflown narrow isthmus, which created a natural port in its northern strait.


The Liburnians were known as great sailors and merchants, but also had a reputation for piracy in the later years. By the 7th century BC, Zadar had become an important centre for their trading activities with the Phoeniciansmarker, Etruscansmarker, Ancient Greeks and the other Mediterranean people. Its population at that time is estimated at 2,000. From 9th to 6th century there was certain koine - cultural unity in the Adriatic Sea, with the general Liburninan seal, whose naval supremacy meant both political and economical authority through a several centuries M. Zaninović, Liburnia Militaris, Opusc. Archeol. 13, 43-67 (1988), UDK 904.930.2(497.13)>>65<<, page="" 47<=""></<,>ref>. Due to its geographical position, Zadar developed into a main seat of the Liburnian thalassocracy and took a leading role in Liburnian tetradekapolis, organization of 14 communes.

The people of Zadar, the Iadasinoi were first mentioned in 384 BC as the allies of the Hvarmarker indigenes and the leaders of an eastern Adriatic coast coalition in fight against the Greek colonizers. An expedition of 10.000 men in 300 ships sailed out from Zadar and laid siege of Greek colony Pharosmarker in the island of Hvar, but the Syracusanmarker fleet of Dionysus was informed and attacked the siege fleet. The naval victory was taken by the Greeks which allowed them relatively safer further colonization in the southern Adriaticmarker.

The archaeological remains has shown that the main centres of Liburnian territorial units or municipalities were urbanized already in the last centuries BC, before the Roman conquest, Zadar held territory of more than 600 km2 in the 2nd century BC.

In the middle of the 2nd century BC, the Romans began to gradually invade the region. Although being first Roman enemies in the Adriatic Sea, the Liburnians mostly stayed aside in more than 230 years long Roman wars with the Illyrians, to keep safe their naval and trade connections in the sea. In 59 BC Illyricum was assigned as a provincia (zone of responsibility) to Julius Caesar and Liburnian Iadera became a Roman municipium.

Liburnian naval force was dragged into the Roman civil war between Julius Caesar and Pompey in 49 BC, partially by force, partially because of local interests of the participants, the Liburnian cities. Caesar was supported by the urban Liburnian centres, like Iader (Zadar), Aenona (Nin) and Curicum (Krkmarker), while the city of Issa (Vis) and the rest of the Liburnians gave their support to Pompey. In 49 BC near island of Krk, "Navy of Zadar" equipped by fleets of a few Liburnian cities and supported by some Roman ships, lost important naval battle against Pompey supporting "Liburnian navy". Civil war was prolonged until the end of 48 BC, when Caesar rewarded his supporters in Liburnian Iader and Dalmatian Salona, by giving status of the Roman colonies to their communitiesM. Zaninović, Liburnia Militaris, Opusc. Archeol. 13, 43-67 (1988), UDK 904.930.2(497.13)>>65<<, pages="" 56,="" 57<=""></<,>ref>. Thus, the city was granted the title colonia Iulia Iader, after its founder and in next period some number of the Roman colonists (mostly legionary veterans) settled there.

Real establishment of the Roman province of Illyricum occurred not earlier than in 33 BC and Octavian’s military campaign in Illyria and Liburnia, when the Liburnians finally lost their naval independence and their galleys and sailors were included in the Roman naval fleets.

Roman Forum in Zadar
From the early days of Roman domination, Zadar gained its Roman urban character and developed into the one of the most flourishing centres on the eastern Adriatic coast, which lasted for several hundred years. The town was organised according to the typical Roman street system with a rectangular street plan, a forum, thermae, a sewage and water supply system that came from lake Vranamarker, by 40 km long aqueduct. It did not have a significant role among the Roman administration in Dalmatia, although the archaeological finds tell us about a significant growth of economy and culture.

The new religion Christianity did not bypass the Roman province of Dalmatia. Already by the end of the 3rd century Zadar had its own bishop and founding of the Zadar Christian community took place; a new religious center was built north of the forum together with a basilica and a baptistery, as well as other sacral objects. By some estimations, in the 4th century it had probably around ten thousand citizens, including the population from its Ager, the nearby islands and hinterland, an admixture of the indigenous Liburnians and the Roman colonists.

The Early Medieval Period

During the Migration Period and the Barbarian invasions, Zadar underwent a stagnation. In 441 and 447 Dalmatia was ravaged by the Huns, after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, in 481 Dalmatia became part of the Ostrogothic kingdommarker, which, besides Italy, already included the more northerly parts of Illyricum, i.e. Pannonia and Noricum.

In the 5th century, under the rule of Ostrogoths, Zadar became poor with many civic buildings turning into ruins due to its advanced age. About the same time (6th century) it was hit by an earthquake, which destroyed entire complexes of monumental Roman architecture, whose parts will later serve as material for building houses. This certainly caused a loss of population and demographic changes in the city, then gradually repopulated by the inhabitants from its hinterland. However, six decencies of Gothic rule didn’t leave some deep traces in common life of a province, the Goths saved those old Roman Municipal institutions that were still in function, while religious life in Dalmatia even intensified in the last years, so a need for foundation of the additional bishopries occurred.

In 536 the Byzantine emperor Justinian the Great started a military campaign to reconquer the territories of the former Western Empire (see Gothic War); and in 553 Zadar passed to the Byzantine Empire. In 568 Dalmatia was devastated by an Avar invasion; although further waves of attacks by Avar and Slav tribes kept up the pressure, it was the only city which survived due to its protective belt of inland plains. Dalmatian capital Salona was captured and destroyed in the 40's of the 7th century, so Zadar became the new seat of the Byzantine archonty of Dalmatia, territorially diminished to a few coastal cities with their agers and municipal lands at the coast and the islands nearby. The prior of Zadar had jurisdiction over all Byzantine Dalmatia, so Zadar enjoyed metropolitan status at the eastern Adriatic coast. At this time rebuilding began to take place in the city.
St. Donatus church, 9th century
At the beginning of the 9th century the Zadar bishop Donatus and the city duke Paul mediated the dispute between the Holy Roman empire under Pepin and the Byzantine Empire. The Franks held Zadar for a short time, but the city was returned to Byzantium by a decision of the 812 Treaty of Aachen.

Zadar's economy revolved around sea, fishing and sea trade in the first centuries of the Middle Ages. Thanks to saved Antique ager, adjusted municipal structure and a new strategic position it became the most important city between the Kvarnermarker islands and Kaštelamarker Bay. Byzantine Dalmatia wasn't territorially unified, but an alliance of city municipalities headed by Zadar, and the large degree of city autonomy allowed the development of Dalmatian cities as free communes. Forced to turn their attention seawards, the inhabitants of Zadar focused on shipping, and the city became a naval power to rival Venicemarker. The citizens were Dalmatian language speakers, but from the 7th century Croatian language started to spread in a region, becoming predominant in the inland and the islands to the end of the 9th century.

Zadar in the Medieval period

Political map of the western Balkans in 925 AD
The Mediterranean and Adriatic cities developed signaficiantly during a period of peace from the last decencies of the 9th to the middle of the 10th century. Especially favorable conditions for navigation in the Adriatic Sea occurred since the Saracen breaks had finished. Also adjusting of relations with the Croats enabled Zadar merchants to trade with its rich agriculture hinterland where the Kingdom of Croatia had formed, and trade and political links with Zadar began to develop. Croatian settlers began to arrive, becoming commonplace by the 10th century, occupying all city classes, as well as important titles, like priors, judges, priests and others. In 925, Tomislav, the Duke of Croatian Dalmatia, united Croatian Dalmatia and Pannonia establishing the Croatian Kingdom. He also was granted the position of protector of Dalmatia (the cities) by the Byzantine Emperor. He thus politically united the Dalmatian cities with their hinterland.

At the time of the Zadar medieval development, the city became a threat to Venice's ambitions, because of its strategic position at the centre of the eastern Adriatic coast.

In 998 Zadar sought Venetian protection against the Neretvian pirates. The Venetians were quick to fully exploit this opportunity: in 998 a fleet commanded by Doge Pietro Orseolo II, after having defeated pirates, landed in Korčulamarker and Lastovomarker. Dalmatia was taken by surprise and offered little serious resistance. Trogirmarker was the exception and was subjected to Venetian rule only after a bloody struggle, whereas the Republic of Dubrovnik was forced to pay tribute. Tribute paid by Zadar to Croatian kings earlier, was redirected to Venice, which lasted for a few years.
Coat of Arms of Zadar.
Zadar citizens started to work for the full indepedence of Zadar and from the 30's of the 11th century the city was just formally a vasal to the Byzantine Empire. The head of this movement was the mightiest Zadar patrician family - Madi. After negotiations with Byzantium, Zadar was attached to the Croatian state led by king Petar Krešimir IV in 1069. Later, after the death of king Dmitar Zvonimir in 1089 and ensuing dynastic run-ins, in 1105 Zadar accepted the rule of the first Croato-Hungarian king Coloman.

In the meantime Venice developed into a true trading force in the Adriatic and started attacks onZadar. The city was repeatedly invaded by Venice between 1111 and 1154 and then once more between 1160 and 1183, when it finally rebelled, pleading to the Pope and to the Croato-Hungarian throne for protection.
Siege of the city in 1202
Zadar was especially devastated in 1202 after the Venetian Doge Enrico Dandolo used the Crusaders, on their Fourth Crusade to Palestine, to lay siege to the city. The crusaders were obliged to pay Venice for sea transport to Egyptmarker. As they weren't able to produce enough money, Venetians used them for the Siege of Zadar, when the city was ransacked, demolished and robbed. The king of Croatia and Hungary, Emeric of Hungary, condemned the crusade, because of an argument about the possible heresy committed by the God's army in attacking a Christian city. Nonetheless, Zadar was devastated and captured, with the population escaped to surroundings. Pope Innocent III excommunicated the Venetians and crusaders involved in the siege.

Two years later (1204), under the leadership of the Croatian nobleman Domald from Šibenikmarker, most of the refugees returned and liberated the city from remains of the crusaders. In 1204 Domald was comes (prince) of Zadar, but next year (1205) Venetian authority was re-established and peace agreement signed in hard conditions for the citizens. The only profit of the Communal Council of Zadar was one third of the city's harbour taxes, probably insufficient even for the most indispensable communal necessities.
Chest of St. Simon
This did not break the spirit of the city, however. Its commerce was suffering due to a lack of autonomy under Venice, while enjoyed considerable autonomy under much more feudal Croatian-Hungarian Kingdom. A number of insurrections followed (1242-1243, 1320s, 1345-1346) which resulted finally in Zadar coming back under the crown of the Croatian-Hungarian king Louis I by the Treaty of Zadar, in 1358. After the death of Louis, Zadar recognized the rule of king Sigismund, and after him, that of Ladislas Anjou. During his reign Croatia-Hungary was enveloped in a bloody civil war. In 1409, Venice, seeing that Ladislas was about to be defeated, and eager to exploit the situation despite its relative military weakness, offered to buy his "rights" on Dalmatia for a mere 100,000 ducats. Knowing he had lost the region in any case, Ladislas accepted. Zadar was, thus, sold back to the Venetians for a paltry sum.

The population of Zadar during the Medieval period was predominantly Croatian, according to numerous archived documents, and Croatian language was used in liturgy, as shown by the writings of cardinal Boson, who followed Pope Alexander III en route to Venice in 1177. When the papal ships took shelter in the harbor of Zadar, the inhabitants greeted the Pope singing lauds and canticles in Croatian.Even though riddled by sieges and destruction, the time between 11th and 14th century was the golden age of Zadar. By its political and trading achievements, and also his skilled seamen, Zadar played an important role among the cities on the east coast of the Adriatic. This affected its look and culture: many churches, rich monasteries and palaces for powerful families were built, together with the Chest of St. Simon. One of the best examples of the culture and prosperity of Zadar at that time was the founding of the University of Zadar, built in 1396 by the Dominican Order (the oldest university in present day Croatia).

From 15th to 18th century

200 px
After the death of Louis I Zadar came under the rule of Sigmund of Luxembourg and later Ladislas of Naples, who, witnessing his loss of influence in Dalmatia, sold Zadar and his dynasty's rights to Dalmatia to Venice for 100,000 dukats on July 31, 1409. Venice therefore obtained control over Zadar without a fight, but was confronted by the resistance and tensions of important Zadar families. These attempts were met with persecution and confiscation. Zadar remained the administrative seat of Dalmatia, but this time under the rule of Venice, which expanded over the whole Dalmatia, barring the Republic of Dubrovnik. The Venetians restrained the political and economical autonomy of Zadar, which, regardless, remained a prosperous city. During that time Juraj Dalmatinac, one of the best known renaissance men, famous for his work on the Cathedral of Šibenik, was born in Zadar. Other important people followed, such as the Lucijan and Franjo Vranjanin, best known in Italymarker for their sculptures and buildings.
Zadar's "Kopnena Vrata"

The 16th and 17th centuries were noted in Zadar for Ottoman attacks. Ottomans captured the continental part of Zadar at the beginning of the 16th century and the city itself was all the time in the range of Turkish artillery. Due to that threat, the construction of a new system of castles and walls began. These defense systems changed the way the city looked. To make place for the pentagon castles many houses and churches were taken down, along with an entire suburb: Varoš of St. Martin. After the 40-year-long construction Zadar became the biggest fortified city in Dalmatia, empowered by a system of castles, bastions and canals filled with seawater. The city was supplied by the water from public city cisterns. During the complete makeover of Zadar, many new civic buildings were built, such as the City Lodge and City Guard on the Gospodski Square, several army barracks, but also some large new palaces.

In contrast to the insecurity and Ottoman sieges and destruction, an important culture evolved midst the city walls. During the 16th and the 17th century the activity of the Croatian writers and poets became prolific (Jerolim Vidolić, Petar Zoranić, Brne Karnarutić, Juraj Baraković, Šime Budinić). Also noteworthy is the painter Andrija Medulić (c. 1510/1515 – 1563), who, when in Venice, signed his name as "Andrea Schiavone."

During the continuous Ottoman danger the population stagnated by a significant degree along with the economy. During the 16th and 17th century several large-scale epidemics of bubonic plague erupted in the city. After more than 150 years of Turkish threat Zadar was not only scarce in population, but also in material wealth. Venice sent new colonists and, under the firm hand of archbishop Vicko Zmajević, the Arbanasi (Catholic Albanian refugees) settled in the city, forming a new suburb. Despite the shortage of money, the Teatro Nobile (Theater for Nobility) was built in 1783. It functioned for over 100 years.

19th and 20th century

After the fall of Venice (1797) with the Treaty of Campo Formio, Zadar come under the Austriamarker crown and once again became united with the rest of Croatia. In 1806 it was briefly given to the Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy, until in 1809 it was added to the French Illyrian Provinces. In 1813 all Dalmatia was reconquered and brought back under the control of the Austrian Empire.

During this time, it maintained its position as the capital of Dalmatia.

During the Napoleonic era, the first Dalmatian newspaper, "Kraglski Dalmatin - Il Regio Dalmata" ("The Royal Dalmatian"), was printed in the city.

After 1815 Dalmatia (including Dubrovnik) came under the Austrianmarker crown. After 1848, Italian and Slavic nationalism became accentuated and the city became divided between the Croats and the Italians, both of whom founded their respective political parties. There are conflicting sources for both sides claiming to have formed the majority in this period; in general the era saw Slavs grow more than Italians throughout Dalmatia, fostering a distinct national spirit.

Italy (1920-1945)

During 1918, political life in Zadar intensified. The development of the Declaration movement was underway. The collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy led to the renewal of national conflicts in the city. With the arrival of an Italian army of occupation in the city on 4 November 1918, the Italian faction gradually assumed control, a process which was completed on 5 December when it took over the governorship. The Treaty of Rapallo (12 November 1920) gave Zadar with other local territory to Italy. The Zadar enclave, a total of 104 km², included the city of Zadar, the municipalities of Bokanjac, Arbanasi, Crno, part of Diklo (a total of 51 km2. of territory and 17,065 inhabitants) and the islands of Lastovomarker and Palagružamarker (53 km², 1,710 inhabitants). The territory was organized into an Italian province.

World War II

Germany with limited Italian assistance invaded the Kingdom of Yugoslavia on April 6, 1941. Zadar held a force of 9,000 that after limited fighting reached Šibenik and Split on April 15, a mere 2 days before surrender, with civilians having previously been evacuated to Anconamarker and Pulamarker. Occupying Mostarmarker and Dubrovnik, on April 17 they met invading troops that had started out from Italian-occupied Albaniamarker. On April 17 the Yugoslav government surrendered, faced with the Wehrmacht's overwhelming superiority.

Within a few weeks, Benito Mussolini required the newly formed Nazi puppet-state, the so-called Independent State of Croatiamarker (NDH) to hand over almost all of Dalmatia (including Split) to fascist Italy under the Treaty of Rome.

The city became the centre of a new Italian territorial entity, called Governorship of Dalmatia, including the provinces of Zadar, Split and Kotor. In general, this treaty was recognized only by the Axis and was, thus, considered void. For the rest of the world, and, indeed, the local populace, Dalmatia was under Italian occupation.

Under fascist reign the Slavic population was subjected to a policy of forced assimilation. This created immense resentment among the Yugoslav people and the Yugoslav Partisan movement (which was already successfully spreading in the rest of Yugoslavia) particularly took root here. The Italians used concentration camps (among others the Rab and Gonarsmarker camps), and to suppress the mounting resistance led by the Partisans adopted tactics of "summary executions, hostage-taking, reprisals, internments and the burning of houses and villages".

After Mussolini was removed from power, the government of Pietro Badoglio surrendered to the Allies, and on September 8, 1943, the Italian army collapsed and was quickly disarmed. "Il Duce" was rescued, however, and formed the Nazi-puppet Italian Social Republic in the north of the country. The NDH proclaimed the Treaty of Rome to be void and occupied Dalmatia with German support. The Germans entered Zadar first, and on September 10 the German 114th Jäger Division took over. This avoided a temporary liberation by Partisans , as was the case in Split and Šibenik where several Italian fascist government officials were killed by an angry crowd.

The city was prevented from joining the NDH on the grounds that Zadar itself was not subject to the conditions of the Treaty of Rome. Despite this, the NDH's leader Ante Pavelić designated Zadar as the capital of the Sidraga-Ravni Kotari County, although its administrator was prevented from entering the city. Zadar remained under the local administration of the Italian Social Republic. Zadar was bombed by the Allies, with serious civilian casualties. Many died in the carpet bombings, and many landmarks and centuries old works of art were destroyed. A significant number of civilians fled the city.

In late October, 1944 the German army and a significant amount of the civilian population abandoned the city. On October 31, 1944, the Partisans seized the city, until then a part of Mussolini's Italian Social Republic. At the start of World War II, Zadar had a population of 24,000 and by the end of 1944 this had decreased to 6,000. As the city was freed from fascist rule, a number of Italians were killed by vigilante groups of civilians and Partisans. Formally, the city remained under Italian sovereignty until February 10, 1947 (Paris Peace Treaties). The city successfully recovered and became once more an important regional city in the newly established Democratic Federal Yugoslaviamarker.

SFR Yugoslavia (1945-1991)

During this period Zadar underwent intensive reconstruction and revitalisation, followed by a large increase in both population and economic power. The Federal government sponsored numerous public works to this end, including the Adriatic Highway (Jadranska magistrala) which provided a modern road connection to the rest of the country. Besides the local infrastructure, the SFRY government initiated the industrialization of the city and nearly all its factories were either built or significantly revitalized and modernized in this period. In the 1970s Zadar particularly enjoyed a high standard of living as international tourism came to Dalmatia.

However, during this period the city lost its status as the capital of the region, with Splitmarker overwhelmingly surpassing Zadar in population numbers, which, though increasing throughout the 20th century, boomed in the new, post-WWII, Yugoslavia.

All in all, by the 1990s the city had not only been rebuilt after the Second World War, but had emerged as a modern and completely industrialized regional centre, with as yet unsurpassed tourist numbers, GDP and employment rates, which were, surprisingly, significantly higher than the present day's. After the death of Tito, Yugoslavia rapidly began to destabilize.

The Homeland War (1991 - 1995)

In the early 1990s the tragic Yugoslav wars began to devastate the country. Zadar became a part of the new Republic of Croatiamarker. Its economy suffered greatly at this time not only because of the war but also due to the shadowy and controversial privatization process, which caused most of its prosperous companies to go under.

In 1990, Serbian separatists from the Krajina region of Croatia just inland from Dalmatia sealed roads and effectively blocked Dalmatia from the rest of Croatia. A number of non-Serbs were expelled from the area and several Croatian policemen were killed resulting in the Dalmatian anti-Serb riots of May 1991.

During the Croatian War of Independence, Krajina rebels (with the protection of the serbianized Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) under Slobodan Milošević's control) converged on the city and subjected it to artillery bombardment, in what is now known as the Battle of Dalmatia.Along with other Croatian towns in the area, Zadar was shelled sporadically for several years, resulting in damage to buildings and homes as well as UNESCOmarker protected sites. A number of nearby towns and villages were also attacked, the most brutal being the Škabrnja massacre in which 86 people were killed.

Connections with Zagrebmarker were severed for over a year. The only link between the north and south of the country was via the island of Pagmarker. The siege of the city lasted from 1991 until January 1993 when Zadar and the surrounding area came under the control of Croatian forces and the bridge link with the rest of Croatia was reestablished in Operation Maslenica. Attacks on the city continued until the end of the war in 1995.

Some of the countryside along the No. 8 highway running north east is still sectioned off due to land mines.

Main sights


Zadar gained its urban structure in Roman times; during the time of Julius Caesar and Emperor Augustus, the town was fortified and the city walls with towers and gates were built. On the western side of the town were the forum, the basilica and the temple, while outside the town were the amphitheatre and cemeteries. The aqueduct which supplied the town with water is partially preserved. Inside the ancient town, a medieval town had developed with a series of churches and monasteries being built.

During the Middle Ages, Zadar fully gained its urban aspect, which has been maintained until today. In the 16th century, Venice fortified the town with a new system of defensive walls on the side facing land. In the first half of the 16th century, architectural building in the Renaissance style was continued. Defensive trenches (Foša) were also built, which were completely buried during the Italian occupation. In 1873 under Austrianmarker rule the ramparts of Zadar were converted from fortifications into elevated promenades commanding extensive seaward and landward views, wall lines thus being preserved; of its four old gates one, the Porta Marina, incorporates the relics of a Roman arch, and another, the Porta di Terraferma, was designed in the 16th century by the Veronese artist Michele Sanmicheli. In the bombardments during the Second World War entire blocks were destroyed, but some structures survived.

St. Donatus' Church, a pre-Romanesque church from the 9th century.
St. Mary's Church, located in the old city opposite St. Donatus' Church.

Most important landmarks:
  • Roman Forum - the largest on the eastern side of the Adriatic, founded by the first Roman Emperor Augustus, as shown by two stone inscriptions about its completion dating from the 3rd century.
  • Most Roman remains were used in the construction of the fortifications, but two squares are embellished with lofty marble columns; a Roman tower stands on the eastern side of the town; and some remains of a Roman aqueduct may be seen outside the ramparts.

The chief interest of Zadar lies in its churches.
  • St Donatus' Church - a monumental round building from the 9th century in pre-Romanesque style, traditionally but erroneously said to have been erected on the site of a temple of Juno. It is the most important preserved structure of its period in Dalmatia; the massive dome of the rotunda is surrounded by a vaulted gallery in two stories which also extends around the three apses to the east. The church treasury contains some of the finest Dalmatian metalwork; notably the silver ark or reliquary of St Simeon (1380), and the pastoral staff of Bishop Valaresso (1460).
  • St. Anastasia's Cathedralmarker (Croatian: Sv. Stošija), basilica in Romanesque style built in the 12th to 13th century (high Romanesque style), the largest cathedral in Dalmatia.
  • The churches of St. Chrysogonus and St. Simeon are also in the Romanesque style.
  • St. Krševan's Church - monumental Romanesque church of very fine proportions and refined Romanesque ornaments.
  • St. Elijah's Church (Croatian: Sv. Ilija)
  • St. Francis' Church, gothic styled church, site of the signing of the Zadar Peace Treaty 1358
  • Five Wells Square
  • St. Mary's Church, which retains a fine Romanesque campanile from 1105, belongs to a Benedictine Convent founded in 1066 by a noblewoman of Zadar by the name of Cika with The Permanent Ecclesiastical Art Exhibition "The Gold and Silver of Zadar"
Other architectural landmarks:
  • Citadel - built in 1409, southwest of the Land gate, it has remained the same to this day.
  • The Land Gate - built to a design by the Venetian architect Michele Sanmicheli in 1543
  • The unique sea organ[37480]
  • The Great Arsenal [37481]
  • Among the other chief buildings are the Loggia del Comune, rebuilt in 1565, and containing a public library; the old palace of the priors, now the governor's residence; and the episcopal palaces.


The first university of Zadar was mentioned in writing as early as in 1396 and it was a part of a Dominican monastery. It closed in 1807.

Zadar was, along with Splitmarker and Dubrovnikmarker, one of the centres of the development of Croatian literature.

The 15th and 16th centuries were marked by important activities of Croatians writing in the national language: Jerolim Vidolić, Petar Zoranić (who wrote the first Croatian novel, Planine), Brne Karnarutić, Juraj Baraković, Šime Budinić.

Under French rule (1806–1810), the first Dalmatian newspaper Kraglski Dalmatin - Il Regio Dalmata was published in Zadar. It was printed in Italian and Croatian; this last used for the first time in a newspaper.

In the second half of the 19th century, Zadar was a centre of the movement for the cultural and national revivals in Dalmatia (Italian and Croatian).

Today Zadar's cultural institutions include:


The administrative area of the City of Zadar includes the nearby villages of Babindub, Crno, Kožino and Petrčane, as well as the islands of Ist, marker, Molatmarker, Olibmarker, Premudamarker, Rava and Silbamarker. The total city area, including the islands, covers 194 km2.

Zadar is divided into 21 local districts: Arbanasi, Bili Brig, Bokanjac, Brodarica, Crvene Kuće, Diklo, Dračevac, Gaženica, Jazine I, Jazine II, Maslina, Novi Bokanjac, Poluotok, Ploča, Puntamika, Ričina, Smiljevac, Stanovi, Vidikovac, Višnjik, Voštarnica.


Zadar is the fifth largest city in Croatia and the second largest in Dalmatia, with a population of 72,717 according to the 2001 census. 93% of its citizens are ethnic Croats (2001 census.)


Major industries include tourism, traffic, seaborne trade, agriculture, fishing and fish farming activities, metal manufacturing and mechanical engineering industry, chemicals and non-metal industry and banking. The headquarters of the following companies are located in Zadar:

The farmland just northeast of Zadar, Ravni Kotari, is a well known source of marasca cherries. Distilleries in Zadar have produced Maraschino since the 16th century.


In 1998, Zadar hosted the Central European Olympiad in Informatics (CEOI).


In the 20th century, roads became more important than sea routes, but Zadar remained an important traffic point. The main road along the Adriatic passes through the city. In the immediate vicinity, there is the Zagreb-Dubrovnik highway, finished up to Split in 2005. Zadrans can access to the highway by two interchanges: Zadar 1 exit in the north and Zadar 2 highway hub near Zemunikmarker in the south. The southern interchange is connected to Zadar port of Gaženica by the B502 expressway. Since 1966, a railroad has linked it with Kninmarker, where it joins the main railroad from Zagreb to Split. It has an international sea line to Ancona in Italy. There is a plan about the "Adriatic railroad" linking Zadar with Gospić and Split. Zadar Airportmarker is in Zemunik, around 14 km to the east of Zadar, accessed via the expressway.


Krešimir Ćosić Hall
The local basketball club is KK Zadar, and the football club NK Zadar. The bowling club Kuglački klub Zadar is also very successful. Zadar is also the hometown of Croatian football player Luka Modrić.

Krešimir Ćosić Hallmarker is new multi-use indoor arena, built and completed in May 2008 with a capacity for 9,200 people, named after Krešimir Ćosić, "a legend" of Zadar basketball game.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Zadar is twinned, or maintains cultural, economic and educational ties with:


File:Zadar_Donat_Forum.jpg|St. Donat's Church and Roman ForumFile:Zadar_Forum.jpg|Roman Forum in ZadarFile:Zadar_Sveta_Stosija.jpg|St. Anastasia Cathedral/sv.marker Stošijamarker in ZadarFile:Zadar_SvMarija.jpg|St. Mary's ChurchFile:Zadar_SvSimun.jpg|St. Simeon's ChurchFile:Zadar_SvSimun_oltar.jpg|St. Simeon/sv. ŠimunFile:Zadar_PortaMarina.jpg|Morska vrata/Porta marinaFile:Zadar_Sveuciliste.jpg|University of Zadar (1396)

See also


  1. Mate Suić: O imenu Zadra, Zadar Zbornik, Matica Hrvatska, Zagreb 1964
  2. M.Suić: Prošlost Zadra 1, Zadar u starom vijeku, Filozofski Fakultet Zadar, 1981
  3. M. Suić, Prošlost Zadra I, Zadar u starom vijeku, Filozofski fakultet Zadar, 1981, pages 61-113
  4. V. Graovac, Populacijski razvoj Zadra, Sveučilište u Zadru, 2004, page 52
  5. M. Suić, Liburnija i Liburni, VAMZ, 3.S., XXIV-XXV,1991-92, UDK 931/939 (36)"6/9", pages 55-66
  6. M. Suić, Prošlost Zadra I, Zadar u starom vijeku, Filozofski fakultet Zadar, 1981, pages 127-130
  7. Z. Strika, Kako i gdje se prvi put spominje zadarski biskup?, Radovi HAZU u Zadru, sv. 46/2004, UDK 262.12"2/3"(497.5) Zadar, p. 31-64
  8. V. Graovac, Populacijski razvoj Zadra, Sveučilište u Zadru, Geoadria, Vol. 9, No. 1, UDK: 314.8(497.5 Zadar), page 53]
  9. G. Novak, Uprava i podjela, Zbornik FF u Zagrebu I, 1951, pages 83-85
  10. Britannica 1911: Dalmatia
  11. Nada Klaić, Ivo Petricioli, Prošlost Zadra – knjiga II, Zadar u srednjem vijeku do 1409., Filozofski fakultet Zadar, 1976, page 59
  12. Nada Klaić, Ivo Petricioli, Prošlost Zadra II, Zadar u srednjem vijeku do 1409., Filozofski fakultet Zadar, 1976, page 84
  13. Britannica 1911: Zara
  14. Britannica 1911: Illyria
  15. N. Klaić, I. Petricioli, Prošlost Zadra II, Zadar u srednjem vijeku do 1409., Filozofski fakultet Zadar, 1976, pages 86-94
  16. N. Klaić, I. Petricioli, Zadar u srednjem vijeku do 1409., Prošlost Zadra - knjiga II, Filozofski fakultet Zadar, 1976, pages 179-184
  17. N. Klaić, I. Petricioli, Zadar u srednjem vijeku do 1409., Prošlost Zadra - knjiga II, Filozofski fakultet Zadar, 1976, pages 215-222
  18. A. Strgačić, Hrvatski jezik i glagoljica u crkvenim ustanovama, Zbornik Zadar, Matica Hrvatska, Zagreb, 1964, page 386
  19. N. Klaić, I. Petricioli, Zadar u srednjem vijeku do 1409., Prošlost Zadra - knjiga II, Filozofski fakultet Zadar, 1976, page 216.
  20. Ante Bralić, Zadar u vrtlogu propasti Habsburške Monarhije (1917. - 1918.), Časopis za suvremenu povijest 1/2006, Hrvatski institut za povijest, Zagreb, 2006, p. 243 - 266
  21. Begonja, Zlatko. Iza obzorja pobjede: sudski procesi “narodnim neprijateljima” u Zadru 1944.-1946..
  22. James Gow, The Serbian Project and its Adversaries, p. 159. C. Hurst & Co, 2003

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