With centuries of footsteps
Our 2nd destination on our Croatian road trip was to Zadar, and I’m so pleased we chose it.
Not only is the Old Town so full of ancient history, but it also blends in so well with the modern installations of the Sea Organ and Greeting to the Sun.
We have some lasting memories of watching the sunset across the Adriatic on our first night & then the following day watching yachts sail along the blue waters of the Dalmatian coast, all while listening to the sounds of the Sea Organ – does life get any better???
Ready for our full day in Zadar, we wake up to thunderstorms and downpours. This was certainly not in the plan…So, after a bit of a delayed start we head out, luckily our apartment was just 5 minutes from the Old Town. So across the footbridge over the marina, it wasn’t long, and we had passed through the old city gates.
A helpful guide
If you've yet to discover the delights of Croatia you're in for a treat. While planning our road trip, I used the DK Eyewitness books. I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.
We used a previous version of this book to plan our north to south Croatian road trip, now you can grab the revised copy.
What is quite striking about Zadar (and as time will tell, other parts of Croatia) is its strong Venetian influence. I knew that areas of Croatia and particularly Zadar had Venetian rule, but I suppose I just didn’t expect to see it so evident.
The high square towers stand so elegantly in the squares, you’ll be forgiven for drifting back to St. Mark’s Square.
However, prior to the Venetians were the Roman’s and once again nothing speaks to you more about the Romans than a Forum and a city with a symmetrical street plan.
Throughout the lanes and squares of Zadar, the streets are paved with large oblong flagstones, which over the centuries have become polished and worn, “what stories these lanes could tell”?
With the sun now breaking through we head along the port side of the city, as a large section of the 16th/17th-century city walls remain, along with its Arsenal.
Unlike on the Adriatic Sea side very little can be seen, but in search of this, we are back to the Greeting to the Sun & the Sea Organ, which we’ll be heading back to later when the sun has gone down.
Strolling through the centre of Zadar, we are then greeted with the eye-catching cylindrical church of St Donatus. Standing quite prominent overlooking the Roman Forum this unusual Byzantine church was originally built in the 9th century.
Although the church has ceased to be a place of worship since 1798, for the last fifty years’ musical performances have been staged here.
Our trail now leads us along towards the Land Gate, another ancient entrance to the city at the southern tip of the peninsula.
Stepping outside the city we take a look back at the wonderful architectural gate.
What took me by surprise was the quaint little marina, filled with shoals of tiny fish glistening in the crystal-clear waters.
Five Wells & a Pit Stop
Back within the city walls, we head up to Five Wells, where there are of course five ancient wells, along with the Captain's Tower
This leads down into a pleasant square where we spotted Konoba Skoblar, a traditional Croatian restaurant.
Time to refuel and the Cuttlefish risotto cried out to Gary, and the fish skewer to me. All washed down with a carafe of inexpensive local white wine.
Perfect in size
After lunch, we continue our amble back towards People's Square. As the name would indicate is quite a focal point in the town for people to meet at.
Back to the Riva
After a brief rest at the apartment we head back into the old town, aiming for the Sea Organ, it is so enchanting and who knows when we will be back again.
However, once at the People's Square we become slightly distracted and head back to 5 wells, and the Land Gate. The marina looks pretty at night, and the city walls are lit, so we scoot around and walk the entire length of the Riva to the Sea Organ.
As always it attracts people that listen to its intriguing sound, crowds also gather around The Greeting to the Sun. It's nice to sit back and watch, it's also amazing, as your eyes adjust to the light how clear the night skies are, with the plough visible.
It’s time to seek out our evening meal, and we're drawn to the bustling lanes we strolled along last night, and we choose 4 Kantuna which looked popular and smelt great as you walked passed.
Gary opted for a Pag Island cheese starter & then a truffle pizza; our research didn’t identify that truffle was so popular here, nor so reasonable. I went for the pork medallions, again washed down with a Croatian red.
Where we stayed
Our accommodation for the two nights we were in Zadar was at “Apartment Mahagony Deluxe”.
Its location for us was fantastic, just out of the old town & a 5-minute walk to the pedestrian bridge.
The apartment was very well equipped, I really couldn't fault it at all, it also had parking in a secure underground carpark.
Personally, if I were staying for longer in the region, I would use this location as a base for exploring, as not only have you got Zadar on your doorstep, you also have the option of self-catering.
Would you like a little more?
We have created a little YouTube video of Zadar
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Inspired to visit Zadar?
It's a great place to explore - give yourself a day or two. It's also a great base to explore the region by day and enjoy the city by night.
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