Introducing Zadar


Zadar has a subtly different look to those of its Dalmatian neighbours. Although it is more ancient than Split, and just as rich in medieval heritage as Šibenik, central Zadar represents a far more complex meeting of old and new, with Roman-era fragments and Romanesque churches rubbing shoulders with blocks of flats, sleek cafés, and ultra-contemporary architectural installations such as the Sea Organ and the Greeting to the Sun.

The reasons for this architectural mix-up rests largely on the fact that Zadar was subjected to serious bombing raids by the allies in World War II, leaving the huge kind of holes in the urban fabric of the Old Town that had to be filled by post-war planners.

Of all Croatia’s Adriatic cities, Zadar was the one that suffered most in terms of destruction and depopulation during the war, and the generations that rebuilt the city in the Fifties and Sixties were genuine urban pioneers. Maybe it’s because of Zadar’s post-war experience of being a city on the architectural frontier that makes it such a forward-looking and innovative place today.

The rebuilding of Zadar was a major talking point for Croatia’s post-war rulers. An initial plan put forward by architects Zenko Strižić and Božidar Rašica envisaged clearing much of the Old Town on the peninsula and building a modernist-inspired city in its place. However there was a competing desire among Croatian intellectuals to preserve as much of the city’s historical heritage as they could, and the radical plan was never enacted.

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