ZADAR - FROM ANCIENT TIMES TO THE PRESENT
first menttioned in a Greek inscription
speaking about the people of Zadar (the Jadasinei) as the leading
enemies of the Greek colonists in the Adriatic. Taken over by
the Romans, Zadar got the characters of a city. It became the
Roman colony during the Second Triumvirate. It did not have a
significant role among the Roman administration in Dalmatia, although
the archaelogical finds tell us about a significant growth of
economy and culture. From the beginning of 7th century when Salona
was destroyed till 1918 it was the capital of Dalmatia. In the
early centuries of Croatian history Zadar acknowledged and was well linked
with the Croatian sovereigns. The deeds of gift were given to
its monasteries by the kings Petar Kresimir IV and Zvonimir.
After the short termed Venetian administration at the end of llth
century Zadar acknowledged the sovereignty of Croatian - Hungarian
king Koloman in 1105.
At the end of his life (26th June
spite of the citizen's
resistance, the Venetians took it over. Their administration lasted
throughout three unsuccessful citizen's uprising in 1159,1164
and 1170 till 1181. The town was developing economically and culturally. The citizens
of Zadar continued to recognize the sovereignty of Croatian -
Hungarian kings up to 1202 when the Venetians using French Knights
on their way to the fourth Crusade took it over, destroyed the
city and expelled the citizens. Soon the people came back and
with the help of Domald the Duke of Omis expelled the Venetians,
but owing to the political situation they had to sign the peace and accept the Venetian administration in
1205. Between 1242 and 1247 they were fighting against the Venetians
again, but they had to surrender under the worst conditions. In
1311 they rebelled again and with the help of Croatian Ban Pavao
Subic they got better political conditions two years
latec In 1343 there was a new uprisal against Venice. The siege
of the town lasted 16 months before the Venetians finally took
it over Their administration did not last long, as Zadar rebelled
again in the autumn of 1357 and accepted Croatian- Hungarian king
Ludovic's army. Although Zadar recognized the sovereignty of Croatian
- Hungarian kings, it lived almost independently developing trade,
seamanship, culture and art. Due to unsettled political situation
in Croatia and Hungary, recognizing first the sovereignty of king
Sigismund then of Ladislav of Naples, Venice succeeded in taking over
the town buying it for 100.000 ducats from Ladislav. They had
to build two fortresses inside the town - Kastel and Citadel.
In the course of time due to the general
the growing Turkish danger, Venetian government became very strong.
Bulwark and forts built in 16th century held the old Croatian town
in which well known Croatian poets and writers - P. Zoranic,
B. Krnarutic, J. Barakovic - lived and worked in 16th and
17th century. The town was changed. It was no longer an
urban commune "townstate",
but it was the centre of military and civilian administration
of Venetian Republic, as well as later on under the French and
Austrian administration. During the French administration (1806
-1812), the first Croatian newspaper "King's Dalmatian"
was started, and between 1844 and 1849 the literary magazine "Dalmatian
Dawn" was published. During 19th and the beginning of 20th
C. Zadar was a political and cultural centre of the Croats in
Dalmatia, although the cultural image of the town itself was determined
by the Italian civil servants serving French or Austrian administration
and by Italianized aristocracy and Italy-oriented middle class.
Zadar has had strength and courage to withstand all
the temptations through its past, and has faced the 20 th century with the identity that belongs to it, as
a Croatian town. It was possible to keep that identity thanks to the Croatian people who never gave up thier language
and culture. Zadar had once again, like it had in the Middle Ages, to survive another siege in 1991 when it
was brutally attacked by Serbian para-military forces helped by the Yugoslav army. The town was being attacked and
distoyed until the summer
of 1995 when the Croatian army finally liberated it. The people of Zadar, once again, have started to renew and rebuild
Today Zadar is a modern economic, political and cultural
centre for the region, a town which during the last decade has developed its tourist, agricultural and fishing
industries more and more.
Zadar dating from the ancient times is
very rich and valuable. There are few towns with such a variety
of monuments, architecture, art and literature. There are remains
of the monumental antique architecture together with a few early
Christian buildings and the most valuable Middle Ages monuments
in Croatia. The high level of cultural creativity is witness to this,
and confirmation are the Roman columns and portals, Romanesque
churches, Renaissance and Baroque palaces, as well as treasure
from archaeological findings, goldsmiths works, and pieces of
art from Renaissance painters, magnificent valuable reliquaries,
coffins (especially the silver coffin reliquery of Sv. Sime
(Saint Simon) and crosses.
Zadars most famous mounument,
and wellknown monumental early
Medieval building in Croatia, is the pre-Romanesque Church of
Sv. Donat (Saint Donat) from the 9th century. This is followed
by the Church of Sv. Krsevan (Saint Chrysogonus), a wonderful
Romanesque building, a three domed basilica with three apses.
Saint Chrysogonus is one of the most important of the four patron
saints, symbols of Medieval Zadar. Zadars Cathedral of Sv. Stosija
(Saint Anastasia) was originally an old Christian basilica on
the remains of which a new Romanesque church was built in the
l2th century. The Church of Sv. Marija (Saint Mary), with its
bell-tower, is a valuable national monument - its walls have
separated the convent, and the lives of its Benedictine nuns,
for over 900 years. The bell-tower of the cathedral is the most
beautiful, and the original is a variation of a Romanesque bell-tower,
the so-called "Lombard" type.
All these cultural monuments and many others, have kept the
most valuable and artistic written documents from Medieval and
Renaissance periods. Also in Zadar, the paintings of Carpaccia,
Palma Mladega, Lotha and many other local and foreign painters
can be found. Gold reliquaries, processional crosses, busts, coffins
and stone and wooden sculptures are confirmation of the high level
of artistic craft and are available today to any visitor who wishes
to see them. "The Permanent Exhibition of Church Art",
in a specially designed space, is a chronological window on these
preserved treasures. There are also the Archeological Museum, Folk Museum, archives,
libraries, all conserve
an invaluable treasure, which are the best witnesses to this important cultural heritage.
It was in Zadar that the first law journal on Balkans was published - "Pravdonosa" and Zadar is connected with
the founding of the first Faculty of Medicine in Croatia.
It has taken a lot of patriotism to preserve
the true identity of the people from the numerous armies
and conquerors attacking from the land and sea. (In 1177 the people
of Zadar greeted Pope Alexander III with hymns in the Croatian
language.) The town of Zadar, which has its own money and banks
during Medieval times had also its own writers, artists, churches
and palaces - it is a town of monumental heritage and international
Zadar is an important cultural centre where many numerous
and important cultural events take place, from the Musical Evenings in the Church of Saint Donat, world famous
Renaissance music, to international exibitions, photographic presentations on the theme "Man and the Sea"
(Covjek i more). It is a town of music and song, the pop-group "Riva"
were winners of the 1989 Eurovision Song Contest.