Zadar, Republika Hrvatska

Zadar  is a city in Croatia on the Adriatic Sea. It is the centre of Zadar county and the wider northern Dalmatianregion. Zadar is a historical center of Dalmatia as well as the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Zadar.

Etymology and historical names

In antiquity, Iadera and Iader, the much older roots of the settlement's names were hidden, the names being most probably related to a hydrographical term. It was coined by an ancient Mediterranean people and their Pre-Indo-European language. They transmitted it to later settlers, the Liburnians. The name of the Liburnian settlement was first mentioned by a Greek inscription from Pharos (Stari grad) on the island of Hvar in 384 BC, where the citizens of Zadar were noted as Ίαδασινοί (Iadasinoi). According to the Greek source Periplus of Pseudo-Scylax the city was Ίδασσα (Idassa), probably a vulgar Greek form of the original Liburnian name.

During Antiquity the name was often recorded in sources in Latin in two forms: Iader in the inscriptions and in the writings of classic writers, Iadera predominantly among the late Antiquity writers, while usual ethnonyms were Iadestines and Iadertines. The accent was on the first syllable in both Iader and Iadera forms, which influenced the early-Medieval Dalmatian language forms Jadra, Jadera andJadertina, where the accent kept its original place.

In the Dalmatian language, Jadra (Jadera) was pronounced Zadra (Zadera), due to the phonetic transformation of Ja- to Za-. That early change was also reflected in the Croatian name Zadar (recorded as Zader in the 12th century), developed from Zadъrъ by vocalizations of the semi-vowel and a shift to male gender. An ethnonym graphic Jaderani from the legend of St. Krševan in 9th century, was identical to the initial old-Slavic form Zadъrane, or Renaissance Croatian Zadrani.

The Dalmatian names Jadra, Jadera were transferred to other languages; in Venetian language Jatara (hyper urbanism in 9th century) and Zara, Tuscan Giara, Latin Diadora (Constantine VII in DAI, 10th century), Old French Jadres (Geoffroy de Villehardouin in the chronicles of the Fourth Crusade in 1202), Arabic Jādhara (جاذَرة) & Jādara (جادَرة) (Al-Idrisi, 12th century), Iadora (Guido, 12th century),Spanish Jazara, Jara, Sarra (14th century) and the others.

Jadera became Zara when it fell under the authority of the Republic of Venice in the 15th century. Zara was later used by the Austrian Empire in the 19th century, but it was provisionally changed to Zadar/Zara from 1910 to 1920; from 1920 to 1947 the city became part of Italy as Zara, and finally was named Zadar later on.


Zadar faces the islands of Ugljan and Pašman, from which it is separated by the narrow Zadar Strait. The promontory on which the old city stands used to be separated from the mainland by a deep moat which has since become landfilled. The harbor, to the north-east of the town, is safe and spacious.

Main sights


Zadar gained its urban structure in Roman times; during the time of Julius Caesar and Emperor Augustus, the town was fortified and the city walls with towers and gates were built. On the western side of the town were the forum, the basilica and the temple, while outside the town were the amphitheatre and cemeteries. The aqueduct which supplied the town with water is partially preserved. Inside the ancient town, a medieval town had developed with a series of churches and monasteries being built.

During the Middle Ages, Zadar fully gained its urban aspect, which has been maintained until today. In the first half of the 16th century Venice fortified the town with a new system of defensive walls on the side facing land. In the course of the century architectural building in the Renaissance style was continued and defensive trenches (Foša) were also built. They were completely buried during the Italian occupation until that in 1873, under Austrian rule, the ramparts of Zadar were converted from fortifications into elevated promenades commanding extensive seaward and landward views, thus being the wall lines preserved; of its four old gates one, the Porta Marina, incorporates the relics of a Roman arch, and another, the Porta di Terraferma, was designed in the 16th century by the Veronese artist Michele Sanmicheli. In the bombardments during the Second World War entire blocks were destroyed, but some structures survived.


St. Donatus' Church, a pre-Romanesque church from the 9th century.


St. Mary's Church, located in the old city opposite St. Donatus' Church.


The first university of Zadar was mentioned in writing as early as in 1396 and it was a part of a Dominican monastery. It closed in 1807.

Zadar was, along with Split and Dubrovnik, one of the centres of the development of Croatian literature.

The 15th and 16th centuries were marked by important activities of Croatians writing in the national language: Jerolim Vidolić, Petar Zoranić (who wrote the first Croatian novel, Planine), Brne Karnarutić, Juraj Baraković, Šime Budinić.

Under French rule (1806–1810), the first Dalmatian newspaper Il Regio Dalmata - Kraglski Dalmatin was published in Zadar. It was printed in Italian and Croatian; this last used for the first time in a newspaper.

In the second half of the 19th century, Zadar was a centre of the movement for the cultural and national revivals in Dalmatia (Italian and Croatian).



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