Zadar is the centre and the watershed of the Croatian Adriatic. Placed on the Mediterranean diagonal of Europe and on the Adriatic-Ionic joining point, as close to the Croatian metropolis Zagreb as to the rest of the cities in Dalmatia, the city is in constant natural and circulatory communication with the city of Ancona on the Italian side of the Adriatic. It is made well-accessable by high-quality and comfortable road, air, sea and railroad travel. Rich in attractions, exceptional in material and spiritual culture, strong in sailing, original in tourism, it is well developed and special. During its existence it was for many centuries the home of the Illyrian Liburni and for 1000 years the capital city of Dalmatia. Rich in history, it is currently a focal point in civilisation, and most of all a city with an unquestionable future: its accepted concept of development into an international, Mediterranean and Adriatic metropolis is being realised. It is a city with a rich Croatian national identity created in the present, which successfully adheres to the newest trends in globalisation and informatisation. Zadar is a city rich in spiritual and material culture, as well as in a touristic identity created in the present. It was created around the Roman forum, a city inside well-kept walls, a city of old Croatian monuments. Full of archives, museums and libraries, it is the keeper of literary and musical treasure. It is the city with the oldest University among Croatians (1396). It was long ago the place where the first Croatian novel and the first newspapers in the Croatian language were created. It is protected by four guardian saints: Zoilo, Simon, Grisogone and Anastasia.
Cities, as well as languages, are the most beautiful works of art of mankind. Zadar is also a unique treasury of acheological and monumental objects from the classical, medieval and Renaissance periods. Zadar truly affirms this fact, showing its identity which has been safeguarded for centuries. On Zadar's peninsula alone there are 70 cultural monuments and in other areas of the city and in the surroundings area there are more than 600. Let us take note of some of them:
The Church of St. Anastasia
The centuries old church of St. Anastasia is the largest church in Dalmatia. It had already been founded during the early era of Catholicism but took the form that it has today much later. During the time of the seiges of the crusades and their occupation of Zadar in 1202 the cathedral had been damaged and was later restored and extended. The main portal has a relief done in the Gothic style and a dedication to the archbishop Ivan from the year 1324. It was shaped into a Romanesque church in the 12th century, and its belfry was built in the 15th and 19th centuries. The church is the best representative of the late Romanesque style of the region.
The Church of St. Donat
St. Donat is the most monumental Croatian building from the early Middle Ages. It is the most well-known monument of Zadar and indeed a symbol of the city. It was constructed on the intiative of the bishop of Zadar, Donat, who between the years 801 and 814 played an important role, visiting both of the reigning European courts, the Frankish and the Bizantine. The church is mentioned for the first time in the middle of the 10th century in the documents of the Bizantine emperor Constantine Porfirogenet. Today its interior and the area connected to the Forum are used for various cultural-theatrical and musical programs, especially during the summer months of the tourist season.
Churches and monasteries
The church of St. Simon was originally an early Christian three-aisled basilica, then a Gothic edifice, and later an interesting example of a provincial baroque monument. The biggest attraction of the church is the sarcophagus of St. Simon. Is would not be an exaggeration to say that the opus represents the most monumental work of our Medieval goldsmiths. The chest was commissioned by the Croatian-Hungarian queen Elisabeth (born Kotromanic) and made during the period 1377-1380 by the goldsmith Francesco De Sesto from Milan with the help of domestic collegues.
The monastery, church and belfry of St. Mary is considered one of the most well-known and important monuments of the city of Zadar. It is believed that the monastery of St. Mary was founded in 1066 by C ika, a noblewoman of Zadar. The same woman granted the construction of the three-aisled church of St. Mary in 1091 in an early-Romanesque style.
The church of St. Grisogone is a three-aisled basilica done in the Romanesque style. Along with the church, there used to exist a monastery of the same name whose Benedictine monks played a role in the 400-year-old combat between Zadar and Venice. At that time, the image of St. Grisogone was placed on the coat-of-arms of the city.
The church and monastery of St. Francis and Our Lady of the Health (Gospa od zdravlja), the church of St. Andrew and St. Peter, the church and monastery of St. Michael, the church of St. Elias as well as much newer churches have even to this day a great artistic and spiritual value.
PERA - Permanant Exhibition of Religious Art (SICU - stalna izlozba crkvene umjetnosti)
Within the structure to the church of St. Mary, or more specfically her monastery, whose property was heavily damaged during the Second World War a representative exhibition was formed in 1972 - the Permanant Exhibition of Religious Art, one of the most worth-while exhibitions in Croatia, popularly called “The Gold and Silver of Zadar”.
As has been said, Zadar is a treasury of monumental and cultural inheritance, which has been encriched in 2003 by the recently restored church of St. Demetrius which, along with the University of Zadar, the Faculty Library and the Historic Archive helps to make up the unique campus of Zadar.
The archeological museum, founded in 1832, is one of the oldest museums in this part of Europe. It exhibits archeological relics from the 7th to the 12th century, which are for the most part connected to the material and spiritual inheritance of Croats. Cultural inheritance encircling the city are: The City Library, PERA (SICU), the National Museum, the Archives and library of the monastery of St. Francis, the collection of the Nautical Museum, the archeological collection in the first royal Croatian city of Nin, the HAZU Institute, the Puppet-Theatre, KUD “Zorani c ” and other cultural, sports and amateur institutions. Especially important are the City Sentry, the City Loggia, the National Square, the Roman Forum, well-loved Kalelarga Street and many other spaces used for the holding of various cultural and entertainment programs.
Zadar Tourist Board