Zadar is the 5th largest city in Croatia and an important port. It has a lovely Mediterranean old town which occupies a small peninsula. The name of the city comes from the Illyrian word 'ladera'; this was taken by the Italian and used as Zara.

Zadar has been the most significant town of northern Dalmatia for centuries as well as the economic and cultural centre of Zadar county. The Dominican order established the country's first university here in 1396 which worked until 1807. The university was re-opened in 2003. However the monks contributed to the heritage of Zadar not only with this institute. One of their pharmacists experimented that liqueur in the 16th century which was the forerunner of the world-known Maraschino.

Zadar is the epicentre of the Croatian basketball, as well. The popular sport club KK Zadar was established in 1945. One of its players was the Zadar-born Krešimir Ćosić who was the first European to play in the American NBA.

The city's cultural heritage is exceptionally rich that still lingers in the old architecture. At the same time Zadar boasts such modern and ingenious attractions as the Sea organ and the Greeting to the Sun.



The first settlers of the Zadar area were the Liburnians who pursued lively trade with the Greek and the Romans as early as in the 7th century BC. Later a Roman colony set up here and in the Middle Ages the town became the venue of incidents of the power-mad Venice, the Byzantine Empire and the Hungarian Kingdom. The Hungarian king, Coloman the 'Book-lover' was crowned Croatian-Hungarian king in the nearby Biograd. According to a legend the king was about to set the town on fire because its inhabitants refused to submit. However, St. Donat bishop appeared in the the king's dream caning and begging for mercy for Zara. The other day the king pardonned the town. 

Venice conquered Zadar several times and when the Ottoman troops reached the inner part of the Balkan, Albanian refugees swarmed the town. Later Zadar belonged to the Habsburg Monarchy for long centuries. Following World War I Zadar was annexed to Italy and at the end of WW II suffered serious damage from the borbardements of the Allied Forces.

The hard times returned during the Serb-Croatian war. The Yugoslav (Serbian) army shooted the town's industrial establishments and the monuments. In the nearby Škrabnja 86 villagers were massacred by the Serbs and buried into mass tombs. By today the historical part of the town was reconstructed.

Getting here & around

By car

Zagreb (A1) – Bosiljevo junction (A1)  – Zadar.
There are two motorway exits, Zadar west (Zadar zapad) and Zadar east (Zadar istok). The centre of the town can be reached on Zagrebačka and Ante Starčevića streets.
Motorway tolls: Zagreb – Zadar 1      117 Kn

                      Zagreb - Zadar 2      121 Kn
The old town lies on a small peninsula and is separated from the outer districts by an inner port.  

By bus
The main bus station is located at Ante Starčevića 2. Take buses No2 or No4 to get to town from here. By walking it takes 20 minutes to reach the peninsula.
The bus transport is managed by the Liburnija and other bus companies (Autotrans, Puntamike Line). Ticket prices and timetables differ according to the companies.

Some examples for the ticket prices:

Zagreb - Zadar   134 Kn

Rijeka - Zadar    188 Kn

Zadar - Split       117 Kn

By train

The railway station hidden behind the bus terminal is in a very bad physical shape. Trains run only to Knin from here.

By boat

The port is situated at the far end of the old town, on Liburnska obala. There is a boat connection to the nearby islands (Dugi Otok, Pašman, Ugljan) and Mali Lošinj. The detailed timetable is available on www.jadrolinija.hr.

By air

The airport of Zadar (Zemunik, www.zadar-airport.hr) is situated only 8 km from the town. The timetable of the shuttle buses is applied to the flights, the one-way ticket costs 25 Kn.

Tourist information

The tourist office is situated at the corner of Narodni trg.

Mihe Klaića 2.
Tel: +385 23 316 166

e-mail: info@tzzadar.hr

internet: www.tzzadar.hr, www.visitzadar.net

Working hours: Monday - Friday 7.00 - 24.00

                      Saturday - Sunday 9.00 - 13.00




The building of the Roman 'Jadera' lasted from the 1st century BC until the 3rd century AD. The sqaure was accessible through stairs. On the southwestern part the Temple of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva stood. After the fall of the Roman Empire the stones of the Forum were carried off and used up for other constructions. Only one pillar preserved in the middle of the square that was used as a 'Pillar of Shame' in the Middle Ages.

The Archaeological Museum (Trg Optice Čike 1.) was established here, in a modern building. It exhibits Illyrian and Roman finds, jewellery, arms and sculptures of Emperor Augustus and Tiberius.

Working hours: Jun-Sep: Mon-Sun 9.00-21.00, Apr, May, Oct: Mon-Sat 9.00-15.00

                      Nov-Mar: Mon-Sat 9.00-14.00

Admission charge: 15 Kn (free visit for children up to 10 years)

Tickets are valid in the Church of St. Donat, as well. 

At the corner of the Forum the Monastery of St. Mary is located. According to a legend a noblewoman called Čika had it built in the 11th century. The bell tower was erected in 1105 for the order of the Hungarian king Coloman when he conquered Zadar. During World War II valuable ecclesiastical treasures were kept in the cellar of the monastery.

Today the monastery hosts one of the most significant collections of religious art in Croatia. The exhibition is called 'The Gold and Silver of Zadar'. Manuscripts, paintings, sculptures, embroideries and reliquaries make up the collection.

Opening hours: Tue-Sat 10.00 - 13.00 and 18.00 - 20.00

                       Sun 10.00 - 12.00

Admission charge: 20 Kn (children 5 Kn)

Franciscan monastery

Zadarskog mira 1358.

From Forum walk in Zanottija and Tanzlingera streets to the oldest church in Dalmatia. The Gothic building is from 1283. In the sacristy a relief represents the event when Venice relinguished its suzerainty over Dalmatia to Louis I of Hungary.

Town Museum

Poljane Pape Aleksandra III. bb.
Opening hours: winter Mon-Fri 9.00-14.00, Wed 9.00-12.00 and 17.00-19.00

                       summer Mon-Fri 9.00-12.00 and 18.00-21.00, Sat 9.00-13.00

Admission charge: 10 Kn

The museum is located next to Morska Vrata gate, beside the Church of St. Chrysogonus. Its entrance is marked with a huge anchor. The collection comprises paintings and models of Zadar and the surrounding towns.

Square Narodni

The National square was called Pletea Magna in the Middle Ages. It was reconstructed several times, the houses bear different architectural styles.

The Renaissance Municipal loggia at the corner dates back to 1565. Its front is decorated with relieves of buildings. As well as the loggia, the Building of the Town Guard was planned by Michele Sammichelli, an architect of Verona. It is now devoted to the Ethnographic Museum. The baroque Clock tower was added at the end of the 18th century.

On the western side, the curiosity of the Church of St. Lawrence is that prisoners sentenced to death spent their last night here. The Ghirardini Palace facing the church got the Gothic balcony in the 15th century.

St. Donat's church

Šimuna Kozičića Benje

Being one of the most famous landmarks of Zadar, the round pre-Romanesque church was build in the 9th century. For the construction the stones of the Forum's buildings were mostly used. Until the 15th century it was called the Church of Holy Trinity, from then it bears the name of St. Donat, the bishop of Zadar, who had it built.

The church consists of three sanctuaries, the central one is 27 m high and it is divided into two parts. Due to the excellent acoustics the church serves as the venue of several concerts. The Musical Evenings of St. Donat are hold in July every year.

St. Anastasia's cathedral

Trg Svete Stošije

The largest cathedral in Dalmatia. It was built on the ruins of an early Christian basilica in the 12th century of which remains can still be seen in the chrypt. The cathedral has Roman style but the rosettes are the heralds of Gothic. The relics of St. Anastasia are buried in a marble sarchopagus, on the altar of the left-hand chapel.


Trg tri bunara 1.

On the site of the Three Wells square a fortress (Kaštel) surrounded with a mote stood. The moat gained the water from the three wells. The today's Arsenal is what remained from the fortress. Today it serves as the venue of cultural events, concerts (www.arsenalzadar.com). The buildings also houses an info centre, internet cafe, a bar and some exclusive shops.

Sea organ

This unusual 'musical instrument' is located at the end of the peninsula, at the meeting point of Istarska obala and Obala kralja Petra Krešimira IV. 70 meters along the riva 35 pipes of different lenght and diameter play the song of the sea as the waving water pushes air into the pipes. The designer of this extraordinary structure, the architect Nikola Bašić, received the European Prize for Urban Public Space for this work.


Church of St. Krševan

Brne Krnarutića

On the site of Trg Sveti Krševana square was the town's market in the Roman times. The church itself was built in the 4th century and was reconstructed in the 12th century. The rival of the Hungarian King Sigismund, King Ladislaus of Naples was crowned in this church in 1403. Later he sold his rights on Dalmatia (and Zadar) to the Rebublic of Venice for a mere 100,000 ducats.

Five Wells square

The square was named after those five ornamented wellheads that belonged to the same cistern and were built in the 16th century, during the Ottoman attacks. In the ancient times the only entrance to the peninsula was here. The ruins of the Roman sanctuary are still visible. (The Roman pillar is from the Forum).

The Church of St. Siemon was built in 1574. The silver chest on the main altar keeps the relics of St. Simeon.

The pentagonal tower was one of the 10 towers that encircled the medieval town. It is called Captain's tower because of the residence of the town's captain used to be here.

Town gates

Nova Vrata (new gate) connects Liburnska Obala with the old town. At the beginning of the promenade (obala) the statue of the world renowned basketball player, Krešimir Ćosić can be found.

The richly decorated Morska Vrata (Sea gate) used to be a Roman triumphal arch. Its medieval vault was built on top of the arch. The gate bears the lion of Venice and an inscription that immortalises the Habsburg triumph over the Ottoman army in Lepanto in 1571.

The Renaissance Kopnena Vrata (Land gate) was built in 1543 to the plans of the Italian architect, Michele Sammicheli. On the facade the lion of Venice and Zadar's coat of arms can be seen. Behind the gate a maritime school can be found.


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