Once the capital of Dalmatia, the Croatian city of Zadar is only a few thousand years old. Zadar is bordered by 4 national parks: Paklenica, Kornati, River Krka and Plitvice Lakes. Part of the cultural attraction to Zadar is the wide selection of Roman churches such as the Church of St. Mary and Church of St. Chrysogonus which both date back to the 12th century.
There are also more modern attractions such as the Cathedral of St. Anastasia which dates back to the 13th century. The Church of St. Donat is undoubtedly Zadar’s most celebrated spot. The Roman church dates back to the ninth century. As well as a Roman forum the Zadar peninsula preserves a very old arrangement of narrow and amiable city streets.
Zadar is also notable for its remarkable ports and staggering medieval fortifications which were the main line of defence in the 16th century.
Why Zadar is a Must See Location on Your Croatia Cruise Vacation
Whatever you’re looking for in a holiday, Zadar can provide it all; whether you want to spend all your time relaxing by the pool at an all exclusive hotel or visiting cultural landmarks, all is catered for.
There are great cultural experiences to be had in Zadar such as; the Church of St. Donat or the amazing sea organ. If you’re not that into culture there are plenty of beaches for relaxation and Zadar also boasts a very vibrant nightlife, with attractions like The Garden.
We have picked out some favourite sights that are definitely worth seeing while on holiday in Zadar.
With its laid back atmosphere Arsenal is definitely worth a visit.
There is always something interesting going on and if you’re new to Zadar then Arsenal can be a great first stop where you can chat to the friendly staff and find out more about this wonderful city.
Spend an afternoon relaxing in Arsenal and you will definitely be taken in by the cool atmosphere with music flowing in the background.
Arsenal is also great for live performances shown regularly in the evening.
Church of St.Donat
Dating back to the 9th century the Church of St. Donat was named after Bishop Donat.
The church was built on the remains of an old Roman forum and some aspects of this are still visible such as 2 massive pillars that stand erect in the church itself and old Roman podiums inscribed with latin script.
It is hard to appreciate the beauty and importance of the church of St.Donat without truely visiting it for yourself.
Zadar has spent a long time trying to recover from relentless bombing runs during World War 2 and after much of the coastline was annihilated during this time, the sea organ represents the rose that grew from concrete.
The sea organ consists of channels and tubes leading from the steps back into a resonating cavity, this in turn creates a beautiful musical score played by the ocean itself.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
The Plitvice Lakes National Park is gigantic and out of the numerous national parks that surround Zadar it is by far the most visited, and it is easy to see why.
The park is absolutely stunning. Situated in an ancient forest the park dotted with many serene lakes, dominant waterfalls and hidden caves.
Plitvice Lakes is also home to many wild animals such as wolves, bears and wildcats.
National Archaeological Museum
Zadar is home to the National Archaeological Museum.
A major tourist attraction, the museum offers a unique look back in time at Zadar’s fascinating history.
With artefacts like ancient weaponry and personal accessories to household items made from pot and common items, the museum certainly does have some interesting items on show.
Aside from the actual recovered artefacts there is also a scaled down build of Roman Zadar and even monuments to the Roman emperors Augustus and Tiberius.
Holidays in Zadar
Tourism in Zadar certainly has a lot to offer. There are precious culturally significant historical locations to explore, but if that isn’t quite your idea or fun, Zadar is also bustling with other exciting activities like cruising tennis and golf. On top of this Zadar also has charming beaches and a very vibrant night life all wrapped up in the fantastic atmosphere of Zadar.
Cruising is an absolute pleasure in Zadar having an abundance of marinas and ports.
An example is Borik marina which although not the largest marina is one of the most popular; offering 200 berths and 10 plots on the beach. All of which is located within the Borik hotel compound.
On top of great facilities for cruising in Zadar, tennis and golf, Zadar also offers many other leisure activities. Basketball and volleyball are very popular and Zadar even has its own football pitch. If you’re into water sports then you won’t be disappointed either with Zadar having brilliant options for scuba diving, fishing and even windsurfing.
If you are heading to Zadar looking for a cultural experience then you may want to look into seeing a recital at the Zadar theatre or a musical show at St. Donat. There are also various fine art exhibitions regularly on show and if you’re lucky enough to be in Zadar over November the 24th you will experience the awe inspiring celebrations of ‘The day of Zadar’.
Zadar was populated by the Illyrian people dating back to the ninth century BC. At the conclusion of the third century BC, the Romans descended upon Zadar. This conquest was to last more than 200 years.
Eventually by the 1st century BC the Romans had finally managed to subdue the Illyrians and Zadar was at once in control of the Roman Empire.
Shortly after Roman conquest, Zadar was transformed into a Roman city. Water from Lake Vrana was drafted to supply the newly built public baths. A typical Roman forum was constructed and paving was laid to from simple streets.
For a while Zadar was nothing more than a simple Roman occupied city; however when the Roman Empire split Zadar then became the capital city for the region of Dalmatia.
Moving further along the timeline; between the 6th – 7th centuries BC, Slavic migrants arrived in the city and Zadar was ultimately subdued by the power of Croatian and Hungarian kings and lords.
Enter the 12th century and the rise of the Venetian Empire. Over the next 200 years the Venetian Empire battered Zadar. The unrelenting attacks escalated as the Venetians focused on expanding their grasp on Adriatic trade.
The people of Zadar fought back against the Venetian Empire and by the year 1202 there had already been around 4 significant revolts instigated by the populace of Zadar; however none brought much success. Eventually the Venetians enlisted the help of the French Crusaders and managed to evict the people of Zadar from the city.
The citizens of Zadar were not without help however; the Croatian and Hungarian kings helped the populace’s insurrection and continuous revolts throughout the 13th – 14th centuries but ultimately this was to no avail and Zadar was finally purchased by Venice in the year 1409.
Now in the 16th century and under Venetian rule peace was short lived and massive fortifications were erected to defend against assaults from their new foe; the Turkish. Zadar had a hard time and the economy suffered greatly until the 17th century when the Turkish were at long last repelled.
1797 was the collapse of Venice and as a result of this Zadar was passed back and forth between French and Austrian control eventually ending up in control of the latter. Zadar however still had a great Italian influence left over from the Roman conquest all the way up until the middle of the 20th century.
The Zadar we see today could have been very different. The Old Town, similar to that of Dubrovnik was decimated in 1943 when the Allied Nations bombed Zadar to annihilate the new German occupants and it is thought that only around 40% on the Old Town was left standing.
After the war Zadar was rebuilt with great emphasis on unification between the new structures with the Old Town, resulting in what we see today.
As was becoming the unfortunate pattern in Zadar, harmony did not last for long. Now 1991 Zadar was bombed by Yugoslavia. This went on for approximately 3 months and the populace of Zadar spent the vast majority of this time in hiding.
Finally pushed back by the Croatian army in 1993 Zadar embraced peace once again and even to this day the signs of such a war filled past are minimal. Having been controlled by such a diversity of cultures is one of the great features of Zadar and the architecture left behind in this concoction is very magical indeed.
Weather in Zadar
With a calm Mediterranean climate Zadar typically has warm dry summers and winters that are quite wet but generally not too cold. The mild climate is reflected in the gorgeous Mediterranean foliage which is especially noticeable in Zadar’s national parks.
Common temperature during summer is 25 º C and 7 º C in the winter months, with the sea being slightly cooler.
Flights to Zadar
Zadar is fast becoming one of the most desirable holiday destinations for UK holiday goers. The popularity of Zadar and Croatia is rising because holiday goers are looking to visit more and more varied destinations, looking to experience different cultures.
As Zadar is so unique when it comes to culture and history this makes Zadar a prime destination, and during the credit crunch Zadar is very fair priced and affordable.
Below we have some information of UK and Europe airports that fly frequently to Zadar and Croatia.
- Airports in UK: East Midlands, Wick, Exeter, Dundee, Glasgow International, Inverness, Glasgow Prestwick, Derry, Guernsey, Belfast City, Belfast International, Cardiff, Alderney, Birmingham, Sumburgh Shetlands, Plymouth, Newquay, Bristol, Orkney, Blackpool, Isle of Man, Norwich, Bournemouth, Islay Glenegedale, Newcastle, Southampton, London Heathrow, Aberdeen, Stornoway, Leeds Bradford, Manchester, Liverpool, London Gatwick, London Luton, London City, Jersey.
- Airports in France: Paris airport, Nice, Nantes, Rodez, Lyon.
- Airports in Holland: Amsterdam airport.
- Airports in Hungary: Budapest airport, Debrecen.
- Airports in Spain: Barcelona, Santander, Alicante, Reus, Murcia, Valencia, Bilbao, Lanzarote.