Zadar: A Piece of Heaven with an Attitude – Best in Travel

As the new Biscuit People conference is quickly approaching, we thought it would be a good idea to take a look at the city that will be its host. Zadar is a city situated on the northern part of Croatia’s coastline, in the region better known as Dalmatia. It is the second largest city in Dalmatia, right after Split, and the fifth largest city in Croatia. We will be taking a look at the city’s history, interesting places to visit, historical monuments and attractions such as the famous Sea Organ and Greeting to the Sun.

A Quick History of Zadar

Ever since humanity took its first steps, it has always searched for habitable places to settle and cultivate, places which could sustain its ever-growing population. Zadar is one of those places, as the area of the city and its surroundings were inhabited from prehistoric times, due to its proximity to the sea and because of the rich soil. The earliest signs of human settlement date back to the Early Stone Age. These signs were, however, left by nomadic societies who roamed the area as hunter/gatherer tribes. The first human settlements were built in the Later Stone Age (Neolithic). Before the arrival of the Illyrian people, Zadar and its surrounding areas were inhabited by an ancient Mediterranean tribe. The city’s name (Jader, Jadra or Jadera) probably originated from the tribe’s pre-Indo-European language. The name has been adapted by the numerous civilizations that have made Zadar its home ever since. The ruins of the Illyrian village originate from ninth century BC. This early village was the centre of the Liburnians, one of the Illyrian tribes. The village and the tribe lived independently until the second century BC, when it was conquered by the Roman Republic. What is interesting to note is that the Colonia Julia Jader, as it was known, was most likely established by Julius Caesar himself. Zadar became an independent municipium and was organized according to the principals of Roman urbanism and the needs of the Roman population. It had its own insulae, forum, capitol and emporium.

The city lived prosperously during the reign of the Roman Republic and Empire but suffered greatly during the Migration Period. In the fifth century AD, it came under the rule of eastern Goths. The city became poor, and without proper supervision, many of the city’s architectures went into disrepair. To make matters even worse, the city was also struck by an earthquake in sixth century AD, which devastated the city. During this time, a new religion developed in Zadar (Christianity), and after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, the city came under the rule of the Byzantine Empire. Soon afterwards, the Avar and Slavic tribes came to these lands and started harassing the local population. They pillaged settlements and sacked the city of Salona (today known as Split). After some time though, the initial hostilities were replaced by friendly relationships between the natives and the Slavic tribes. In the eight century AD and onwards, the city turned its attention to the sea, and started to develop its economy around sea fare and trade.

During the later periods of the Middle Ages, the city grew exponentially and became one of the major competitors of the Republic of Venice. The Republic sought to gain monopoly over the Mediterranean trade, and Zadar stood in its way. But the city itself was too big of a challenge for the Republic to handle alone. The Venetians under the leadership of doge Enrico Dandolo employed the services of the crusaders who were on their way to the Holy Land. As the crusaders were unable to pay for transportation to Jerusalem and traversing the land route would be too dangerous, the Venetians offered an alternative. In order to be given transport to Jerusalem, Venice demanded the city of Zadar as payment, and the crusaders agreed. They soon laid siege to the city, and although the city resisted for some time, it was no match for the sheer numbers of the crusaders and the siege equipment they used. The city was given to the Republic in 1202 AD. The Kingdom of Hungary (which was in a personal union with the Kingdom of Croatia) constantly wrestled for control of the city with the Venetian Republic over the next couple of centuries. In the fifteenth century, however, Zadar recognized Ladislaus of Naples as its legitimate ruler. Ladislaus, seeing that he would be unable to keep his belongings on the eastern Adriatic coast from his competitor for the Hungarian throne, Sigismund of Luxembourg, sold Zadar to the Venetians for 100000 ducats, along with the rest of Dalmatia. Zadar remained under the rule of the Republic until the Modern Period.

In more recent times, the city became one of the most important ports of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It built and housed many of the empire’s warships and was also one the economic hubs of the country, used for overseas trade. In the Second World War, the city was bombed by Allied Forces, and the city’s core suffered greatly during these military actions. The city quickly rose up on its feet, however, and once again became one of the major economic and cultural centres in the Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia. In the War of 91-95 (called “The Homeland War” in Croatia) the city suffered major damage in the artillery strikes from JNA (National Army of Yugoslavia). The city endured, however, and after the war’s end it once again became a prosperous place. Today, it is one of the major tourist attractions of Dalmatia, so next up, we will be taking a look at what the city has to offer to its guests.

Best in Travel 2019: A Prestigious Recognition from Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet, the world’s leading authority in tourist recommendations, recognized Zadar as one of the ten “Best in Travel” locations across the world. The “Best in Travel” is Lonely Planet’s largest world-wide annual campaign which suggests tourist destinations and trends for the next year. The campaign is promoted through all of Lonely Planet’s platforms, including social media and printed press. A whole cadre of experts, authors and editors determine the best tourist destinations (using strict criteria) which are separated into four different categories: countries, regions, cities and most-economic travels. Zadar was chosen as one of the top ten cities for 2019. Well done, Zadar!

As Lonely Planet writes: “Zadar has risen from the ashes of its wartime past and blossomed into a lively cosmopolitan city in which visitors can discover excellent bars and relaxing cafés, antique ruins, innovative museums and local rustic restaurants.” Lonely Planet’s experts also recommend taking walks on Zadar’s Riva while listening to the soothing sound of the Zadar’s Sea Organ. Tom Hall, the Lonely Planet’s main editor, explains how the proximity of Zadar enables travellers to experience the local of way of life and culture. He also goes on to explain how the energy and the liveliness of the city are excellently incorporated with its ancient history, which can be seen everywhere, from the city’s landscape to its architecture. “It is a piece of heaven with an attitude with which the travellers are sure to fall in love with” says Tom Hall.

It is important to note that, although there are numerous “Best in…” rewards given by Lonely Planet, none come close (in terms of prestige) to the annual “Best in Travel” award. To emphasize how important it is, the 2018’s Best in Travel campaign reached up to three billion people, promo videos had up to ten million views, and it was covered by up to 3700 articles from medias across the world! Zadar could not have received a better recommendation, and it is our hope that the information so far has sparked your interest in checking out the city during the Biscuit People’s conference. You can check out Lonely Planet’s full campaign and coverage online.

Locations and Places to Visit in Zadar

As was already mentioned, Zadar is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city filled with rich history, which can be seen in its architecture and landscape. The city is divided into different parts, each with its own name and tourist attractions to visit.

The first part is called Puntamika. Puntamika has been inhabited since the Neolithic Age, or Later Stone Age. It has always been one of the city’s most important defensive spots, as throughout the city’s history it was used to overlook the passageway into the city’s port. This is also the reason why the city’s lighthouse was built there. The Church of Saint Stosija can be found here, lying on the foundations of an ancient Roman housing complex. The church consists of two parts, both of which had been used for religious worship up until the Later Middle Ages. If one goes down to the coastal walkway, they can encounter a large number of cafes, restaurants and two boat marines. If one wishes to go sailing, they can do that here, as the headquarters of the Uskok Sailing Club is located here.

Continuing with interesting names, the next big tourist attraction to visit is Diklo. It is not a part of Zadar per se, but rather a tourist village located north-west of Zadar, right after the exit from the old city core. It is an elite summer vacation spot, sporting private mansions and villas, and it possesses all the required infrastructure for a comfortable summer. The nearby gravel beaches are specially decorated and equipped with additional content for fun and entertainment. There are also numerous playgrounds nearby, so visitors can choose to play a wide array of land or water sports. With the close proximity of Zadar, there is also no shortage of activities to do. Diklo is, however, more suited towards families and people preferring active vacations.

Continuing with interesting names, the next big tourist attraction to visit is Diklo. It is not a part of Zadar per se, but rather a tourist village located north-west of Zadar, right after the exit from the old city core. It is an elite summer vacation spot, sporting private mansions and villas, and it possesses all the required infrastructure for a comfortable summer. The nearby gravel beaches are specially decorated and equipped with additional content for fun and entertainment. There are also numerous playgrounds nearby, so visitors can choose to play a wide array of land or water sports. With the close proximity of Zadar, there is also no shortage of activities to do. Diklo is, however, more suited towards families and people preferring active vacations.

Sea Organ, Greeting to the Sun and Historical Monuments

While writing this article, we had an impossible task ahead of us. To pick out a key, few tourist attractions for you to visit. There are so many tourist attractions in Zadar to visit, not to mention historical monuments and buildings, museums, galleries and restaurants that one visit might not be enough to check out everything that the city has to offer. But some of the attractions we would recommend are the world-famous Sea Organ and Greeting to the Sun, and along with those, the Church of St. Donat and Cathedral of St. Stosija. You might have already heard about the famous Sea Organ, which is a system of stone steps which are aligned over seventy metres of coastline, divided into seven ten-step sections. Polyethylene tubes are connected to these steps which record the changes in the sea level and other sea activity. In this way, air is built up, which then travels through the tubes up to the steps, and patterns of sound, or music to be exact, are produced. Many people like taking relaxing walks by the Sea Organ, which is located on the western part of Zadar’s Riva. Many people from Zadar proudly claim that the most beautiful sunset in the world can be seen right on this spot. The Sea Organ was a project of Nikola Basic, an architect from Zadar. Along with the Sea Organ, Zadar is also home to a second world-famous tourist attraction called “The Greeting to the Sun.” It was opened in 2008 and was designed by the very same architect who made the Sea Organ possible, Nikola Basic. The Greeting to the Sun is comprised of three hundred multi-layered glass panes placed in Riva, in the shape of a circle with a diameter of twenty-two metres. Underneath the glass panes there are photonic solar modules, through which a symbolic communication with nature is achieved. Sounds magical, does it not? If you are attending this year’s conference, it would be a shame to miss out on these phenomenal attractions.

Figure 1 – The Sea Organ in Zadar

Zadar – A City of Many Wondrous Sights and Attractions

We here at Biscuit people hope that, while reading this article, you have become excited to visit Zadar. Along with meeting the most important individuals in the biscuit industry, you will have a chance to soak in the beauty of the city. Take a walk on the Riva or Kalelarga, the city’s main street, go to rustic restaurants and enjoy the delicious local cuisine. Bring a loved one and enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets in the world. The city of Zadar has many things to offer, to everyone, be it someone who is looking for some peace and quiet or for those seeking active vacations. Zadar truly is a little piece of heaven, and we hope to see you there. Cheers!

P.S. If you are looking for a good restaurant to visit, you can check out this link: https://www.zadar.travel/hr/lifestyle/gastro-vodic


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April 1. - 4.

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