North of ZadarEmbark on a journey where the two small tourist places of Nin and Zaton will surely amaze you with their anecdotes of history, buildings, artefacts and natural surroundings. Located a mere14 kilometres north of Zadar, these Adriatic gems have their very own story to tell.
NinThe region of Nin has been inhabited for over a staggering three thousand years. It was initially founded by the Illyrians who named the area Aenona. When the Romans gained control, the town had flourished as it was an important harbour in the Eastern Adriatic Sea – the growth and development of import, export and migration attracted merchants and other settlers to the area.
The beauty of Nin and neighbouring Zaton is twofold. Visitors are immersed in the historical treasures of the tourist places whilst also fulfilling the true holiday experience of picturesque beaches and breathtaking surroundings.
The historical town of Nin is situated in the middle of a shallow lagoon, whilst the historical part of the town is located on a small island that has a 500 metre radius. Visitors can enter the old town via one of two bridges which lead to the blissfully preserved historical city gates. The arched gates are the steppingstone to a sightseeing tour of the city walls and the many valuable and historical monuments.
Some of the archeological highlights include two original and reconstructed old Croatian ships ‘Condura Croatica’, (11th Century) that were found at the entrance to the harbour, the ruins to the biggest Roman Temple (from the 1st century) on this side of the Adriatic, the gothic chapel of Saint Marcela and the pre-Romanic Church of the Holy Cross (9th century) which is also known to be the smallest cathedral in the world. The gold and silver of the town as well as the historical treasures provide for a feast of culture.
The other attractions that Nin and Zaton boast are their long sandy beaches which are perfect for that summer holiday. The blue sky waters are striking and the accommodation on offer includes hotels, nicely decorated apartments, holiday villas and small idyllic camps.
A hidden advantage that entices many to this region is the ‘Nin Curing Mud Peloid’ which has been used for medical purposes since the Roman times. Supervised medical personnel assist visitors and patients with therapy. The curing mud effect can be seen through its medical, mechanical and chemical effect. The therapy is performed in a cosy natural environment and it includes bathing and swimming in warm sea water.
As you wander through Nin or Zaton, you’ll find that nothing much has changed over the years; ancient buildings built from Dalmatian Stone still stand in their purest form. What visitors cherish the most are these magnificent historical structures entwined with the natural ambience of mother-nature that provides the perfect getaway.
NovigradNovigrad (literally “New Town”, somewhat of a misnomer), a castle ruin perched on a hill above the town of the same name, also has had a turbulent history. The Romans, and before them, the Liburnians, built forts on the same spot. Some of the walls date from Roman times, but Novigrad has been modernized. It has several restaurants and cafes right on the water, offering nice views of the harbor. Located 31 km east of Zadar via route 502, Novigrad has been the front line in several conflicts. During dynasty wars (1385-1387) in what is now Croatia, two woman of royalty, Mary, the wife of Croatian-Hungarian King Sigismund Luxemberg, and her mother, Elizabeth, were murdered there. During the Kandian Wars (1645-1669) it was an important point of Venice’s defense against the Turks, who occupied the town during 1646-47. When the Venetians retook the town the castle was substantially destroyed. During the more recent war of 1991-1995 after the break up of Yugoslavia, the Serbs also held the town for two years. There is another spectacular view of the modern day town and the sea from the ruins, which are accessible from several trails. The easiest to find (again, no signs!) starts from the top of some wide stairs that ascend from the east side of town. Go right at the top of the stairs and then left after about 10 meters. It takes around 10 – 15 minutes to reach the castle.
Paklenica National ParkThe Paklenica National Park lies just north of Zadar within the Velebit mountain range. Two streams, the Velika and Mala Paklenica, carve their way through the soft limestone leaving gorges with cliffs up to 400m high, and fascinating rock formations characteristic of karst territory. The scenery is incredible: the interior is unexpectedly lush due to large quantities of pure spring water, allowing dense forests and lush meadows to flourish. Local residents include the rare Griffon vulture, sparrowhawks, chamois, wild boar, brown bears, wolves and lynx.
The park is a favourite destination for hikers and climbers. Over 150 km of hiking trails include the walk from the park entrance through the Velika Paklenica Canyon to the Paklenica Mountain Hut (about 2 hours), though there are many more demanding routes. The park administration publishes excellent maps. Mountain hut accommodation is available – reserve in advance on (+385-23) 30 16 36 or e-mail: email@example.com. There is also a campsite with a beach (prices are on www.paklenica.hr ). Starigrad, the town at the park's entrance, has excellent pebble beaches and a number of restaurants that offers dalmatian specialities.
ZatonThis small tourist town is a popular holiday destination for many visitors and is located between the two historic cities of Nin (2 km) and Zadar (13 km). It is the perfect escape for a family holiday and action packed vacation because of its great climate, preserved nature, the abundant sports activities available (horse riding, water sports etc.) and for its rich cultural and historical heritage.
As summer nears, Zaton springs to life and as history books would have it, remnants of life and culture also existed in the area as far back as the Bronze Age, over 4000 years ago. Throughout the Roman period, Zaton was a port that was owned by Aenona (present day Nin) and the town started to gradually develop towards the end of the 17th century after the Turks had withdrawn from the area.
One of Zaton’s landmark symbols and a frequent postcard motif is the Saint Nicholas Church, which is situated on a small little hill in the middle of a field. It has three circular bases and one rectangular niche as well as the dome above its center. The church was built with traces of the Romanic style from the end of the 11th and the beginning of the 12th century. A watchtower was built on the dome during the Turkish wars.