Zadar (Croatia) was the last stop on our Balkan itinerary. Our trip began in Budapest (Hungary) and continued through Slovenia, Croatia and Montenegro. On the way back we decided to stop and spend one day in Zadar before getting back to Budapest. Even though we could only spend 24 hours in Zadar, we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to visit the city. Zadar has the reputation for being one of the most attractive cities on the Dalmatian coast. Question was would one day in Zadar be enough to see to see the city’s attractions?
Many people visit Zadar as a day trip from Dubrovnik. Or from Split. So we figured one day should be enough. Although it’s the second largest city in Dalmatia, Zadar is actually very easy to explore on foot. That’s in part due to its many pedestrian-friendly streets, but also to the fact that most of its attractions are concentrated in the Old Town area.
What to Do in Zadar in One Day
Zadar is a place for wandering. Roaming the streets and squares in the Old Town is a pleasure. The area is relatively small, but jam-packed with incredible sites that are easy to discover. So here is what you can visit in Zadar in one day:
The Venetian Land Gate
Once the largest city-fortress in the entire Republic of Venice, Zadar managed to retain its independence more than other neighboring cities due to its strong walls. Today only portions of the walls and eight gates remain.
The most impressive and elaborate one is the Land Gate, which is also the main entrance to the old town. The gate is decorated with a relief of the winged lion of St. Mark and the city’s coat of arms.
The Roman Forum
The Forum is a huge plaza in the middle of Zadar, holding the remains of the city’s Roman forum. The complex of historic churches and pieces of Roman ruins is still the center of civic and religious life in Zadar.On one side of it is the St Donatus Church, a beautiful example of Byzantine architecture. On the western side of the Forum is the Pillar of Shame, a Roman column that was used as a pillory in medieval times.
The Sea Organ
Located on the Riva (Zadar’s seaside promenade) you’ll find one the more modern attractions in Zadar: the Sea Organ. Equally popular among locals and visitors, the Sea Organ is a true architectural marvel. Nikola Bašič’s creation is not actually an organ, but rather an ingenious work of art capturing the force of nature. The magical ‘music’ is produced by the waves pushing air through 35 underwater pipes. The pipes are located underneath a set of large marble steps descending into the sea. The sounds produced are a little haunting, yet enchanting and quite relaxing.
Greeting to the Sun
Greeting to the Sun is a solar powered work of art that explodes with an array of bright colored lights at night. The lights come from 300 multi-layered glass plates in the shape of a circle that is 22 meters in diameter. Also designed by Nikola Bašič, this circle of glass stores the energy created by the sun rays during the day and emits it after dark as a magical light show. The flashing lights accompanied by the sound of the Sea Organ are quite dramatic and unique.
Five Wells Square
Have you been to Zadar? What did you think of it?