Zadar’s Monuments

Croatia, Zadar Guide (A): Zadar’s Monuments

Take the opportunity to admire the entire spectrum of Zadar’s monuments. The early Christian sights, or even Renaissance constructions, sometimes incorporate Zadar’s Roman architectural heritage. Zadar is also known for the high concentration of churches that exist so close to each other on the peninsula. Discover some of the treasures that survived in spite of numerous historical turmoils.
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Walk Route

Guide Name: Zadar’s Monuments
Guide Location: Croatia » Zadar
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 1.0 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.0 km
Sight(s) featured in this guide: Land Gate   Five Wells Square   Saint Simeon's Church   City Sentinel   Church and Monastery of Saint Mary   Saint Donat's Church   Saint Anastasia's Cathedral   Church and Monastery of Saint Francis   Sea Organ & Greeting to the Sun  
Author: Nora Zothová
Author Bio: My educational background ranges from the arts to economy. I studied a secondary art school with Graphic Design as the major. Following studies included Humanities, Art Therapy. For the past few years, I have been freelance translating and lecturing English as a Foreign Language. Lately, I graduated in Arts Management. I am Currently living in Dalmatia. Keen on ancient artefacts, sightseeing, visual arts and architecture. Well acquainted with the Dalmatian folklore and lifestyle.
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Land Gate

1) Land Gate

Although you can reach the Old Town with a different route too, by entering it via Kopneva Vrata, you actually follow in the footsteps of the past. The Land Gate reminds us of the fact that Zadar was turned into a mighty city-fortress during the Venetian Republic in order to better face the emerging Turkish threat. Under those circumstances, even the perpetual struggles between the Croat population and the Venetian invaders seemed to cease for a while. Conceived as the main entrance to the city, it was conveniently situated at the top of the enclosed Foša harbour. Its high-Renaissance construction dates back to 1543 and takes on the obvious form of a triumphal arch. The winged lion, the gate’s central emblem, is symbolic of Mark the Evangelist, the patron saint of Venice. The relief figure below depicts St. Chrysogonus, Zadar’s most ancient and significant patron, on his horse.
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Five Wells Square

2) Five Wells Square

The small Trg Pet Bunara has a definite spell. It extends on top of a large water tank, its five wells copying mediaeval walls. To the right, there is the bastion, a massive Renaissance construction that was demilitarised early in the 19th century, when it was turned into a municipal landscape park. At that time, the cosy square enjoyed popularity with locals as a favourite meeting place. The tall pentagonal Captain's Tower was also built during Renaissance and forms a part of mediaeval ramparts, which were parallel with the Roman walls.
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Saint Simeon's Church

3) Saint Simeon's Church

The amalgam of styles as diverse as the Early Christian, Gothic and Baroque bespeaks the significance of this sanctuary. Its location on the main city axis as delineated at the town’s Roman era leaves no doubt of its special status. Built as an Early-Christian three-nave basilica, the church saw a 14th century renovation that can be observed on its northern wall. On its southern wall, typical Early-Christian double windows can be seen. Take the chance to marvel at its Baroque altar paintings or Byzantine gilded marble reliefs. A veritable goldsmith’s gem is the Chest of Saint Simeon on the main altar, which was commissioned by Hungaro-Croatian Queen Elizabeta from goldsmith Franjo, who came from Milan. Franjo took inspiration for the chest in famous Italian paintings, in the case of the central scene of the Miracle in the Temple from those of Giotto.
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City Sentinel

4) City Sentinel

The city watch building, or Gradska straža, playfully dominates the People’s Square (Narodni trg), the central town square since mediaeval times. It was designed in 1562 in the Late Renaissance style, but its fence and clock tower are actually 18th century additions. In the fence, you can observe two round openings for cannons. Opposite the sentinel there is the Municipal Loggia, a former courthouse mentioned as early as 1284, that was rebuilt shortly after the construction of the sentinel. It now serves as a municipal gallery. Don’t miss out on the ethnological exhibition in the city watch when on our museum tour!
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Church and Monastery of Saint Mary

5) Church and Monastery of Saint Mary

If you are lucky you will find the door of Sveta Marija church open allowing you to relax in its alabastre white interior. The church belongs to the Benedictine convent, which also holds a valuable collection of archival documents including those that mention early Croatian kings from the 11th century. The large three-aisled church was built in 1091 in the Early Romanesque style. While the main portal is clearly Renaissance, the interior was decorated with waves of Late Baroque stucco and cast iron screens. The stone pillars and arches are original, early-Romanesque. The bell tower next to the church is recognised as the Lombardian form of the Early Romanesque style. There is a permanent exhibition of church art in the monastery.
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Saint Donat's Church

6) Saint Donat's Church

This highly original church has become the visual symbol of Zadar. Don’t make the mistake of missing out on a tour of it. Whether it’s the massive, cylindrical form, its location on the former Roman Forum, integration of ancient marbles into its foundations and use of ancient columns by the altar place, or the simple, wooden, barrel-shaped vault, the place will absolutely thrill you. Originally consecrated to the Holy Trinity, the church was named after 11th century Bishop Donat, who reportedly arranged for its building. The construction dates back probably to the beginning of the 9th century. Its style is believed to refer to early Byzantine architecture.
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Saint Anastasia's Cathedral

7) Saint Anastasia's Cathedral

The cathedral of Sveta Stošija is one of the most ancient churches in Zadar and at the same time the biggest of Dalmatia’s cathedrals. Its construction began as early as 4th century AD utilising the remnants of a Roman wall on the northeastern side of the city’s main square – Forum. Shaped as a three-aisled basilica, the cathedral preserved its initial concept as regards the width and height throughout the centuries. It was originally consecrated to Saint Peter and was to take its present name only in the early 9th century, when Zadar Bishop Donatus succeeded in obtaining the relics of Saint Anastasia in Byzantium. It was then when the basilica was adorned with stone reliefs. The next reconstruction took place during the 12th century giving the cathedral its Romanesque appearance. The cathedral’s bell tower was built in the 15th century and saw a neo-Romanesque adaptation in the 19th century. Saint Anastasia is the patron of harassed women, widows and weavers, also believed to help relieve from headaches and chest pains.
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Church and Monastery of Saint Francis

8) Church and Monastery of Saint Francis

The complex of the monastery of sveti Franjo combines monastic austerity with high-level architectural style. It contains the oldest Gothic church in Dalmatia, which was consecrated in 1280. At the end of the 15th century, a Renaissance chapel was added that hosts the silver bas-relief of Our Lady from 1627 and several paintings of Franciscan saints from the workshop of the Italian painter Pitteri dating from the first half of the 18th century. In the sacristy of the church, the Peace Treaty between the Republic of Venice and Hungaro-Croatian King Ludovik was signed in 1348, by which Venetians renounced their territories on the Croatian coast. For the number of 16th and 17th century Italian paintings and samples of 12th century art in the monastery’s art collection, the monastery is well worth seeing.
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Sea Organ & Greeting to the Sun

9) Sea Organ & Greeting to the Sun

Two attractions so close to each other, the Greeting to the Sun complements the marvelous Sea Organs. Both installations are work of the architect Nikola Bašić. Listen to the concert of the sea on the steps entering the sea at the very end of the Zadar peninsula. They are actual organs composed of bellows that are pressed by the on-flowing sea below the steps. The lighting installation is in fact a model of the solar system with the smaller adjacent circles representing the circumventing planets. The large ‘Sun’ circle, which has 22 metres in diametre, will be activated with the sunset using the accumulated solar power to produce a show of light at same time contributing to powering the lights on the Riva.