The city of Zadar is a lesser-known historic port on the Dalmatian coast although it is fast becoming one of Croatia’s top destinations for its history and culture. This is one city we didn’t want to miss seeing. The old town has ancient walls, streets of marble, Roman ruins, medieval churches, museums and cosmopolitan cafes. We also enjoyed cheaper prices and fewer crowds than in Dubrovnik.
Make sure you visit Zadar late afternoon and stay to watch the beautiful sunset. To celebrate such magnificent sunsets, an artist Nikola Basic, decided to build what is called the Sun Salutation on the edge of the waterfront. A 22-metre disc, supposed to represent the sun, is set into the pavement and filled with 300 multi-coloured glass plates that collect the sun’s energy during the day to produce a light show from sunset to sunrise that’s meant to simulate the solar system. Surrounding the large disc are smaller discs representing other planets in the solar system which also radiate their own colourful glow.
An interesting fact is that the Sun salutation collects enough energy to power the entire harbour front lighting system. It’s amazing to watch everyone start to congregate as it gets darker and the lights start to come on. At first, we thought we must be missing something because there were so many people in the area. People were sitting, laying, and having pictures taken on the disc. It’s just like a giant, solar-powered dancefloor.
We found sipping cocktails at the Brazil bar a great place to enjoy the sunset and to watch the crowds gathering to listen to the Sea Organ and wait for the lights to start their display.
The Sea Organ
Adjacent to the Sun Salutation is the Sea Organ which is like a giant harmonica, played by the sea.
The sea organ is set within the perforated stone stairs that descend into the sea. It is a system of pipes and whistles that exudes wistful sighs when the movement of the sea pushes air through it. The tone gets louder when a boat or ferry passes by. We had noticed that the boats came in a lot nearer to the shoreline here than anywhere else probably so that the passengers can listen to the sea organ.
Listen to the Sea Organ on my youtube video here – Quite a haunting sound really.
A lovely wide promenade stretches along the entire length of the old town of Zadar and is great for a relaxing walk. The water and hills on one side and the town and its architecture on the other side.
Roman ruins are beautifully displayed across the plaza in the middle of the town where we noticed the children climbing all over them. Market stalls are dotted around this area. There is a curious square with five wells. Under the glass floor are remains of buildings from the Roman Empire and a tower with a panoramic view.
The town comes alive at night and there are plenty of bars to sample – it has a really lively atmosphere.
Zadar would make a great base for a longer stay travelling out to the National Parks. Kornati, Paklencia and Telascica are all easily accessible, as are the islands of Ugljan, Olib, Silba, Dugi Otok etc. Krka National Park is just over an hour’s drive away. Plitvice Lakes is 1 hour 30 minutes.
Zadar has its own airport. Plenty of international flight options are available starting from locations all over Europe.
Zadar hosts many music festivals. Click here for the Music Festivals for Zadar and the surrounding area here