Croatia facts and history in brief
Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Zadar (Italian Zara) is a city in Croatia
on the Adriatic Sea, with a
population of 72,718 (2001).
Absolute majority of its citizens
are Croats with 92.77% (2001 census).
It is the centre of Zadar county and the
wider northern Dalmatian region.
Zadar is geographically located at
44:26N Latitude, 15:03E Longitude.
In the 9th century BC Zadar was settled by
the Liburnians, a tribe of Illyrians.
After 59 BC Zadar became a Roman municipium,
and in 48 BC a colony of Roman citizens.
It maintained its autonomy
throughout the Middle Ages.
Upon the fall of the Western Roman Empire and
the destruction of Salona in the early 7th
century, Zadar became the capital of the
Byzantine province of Dalmatia, as
well as the governor's headquarters.
In the early 9th century it came under the
Franks, while it was given back to Byzantium
in 812, under the Peace Treaty of Aachen.
In the 10th, and especially in the 11th
century, although it survived the migration
of Slavs, the rulers of the
town were the Croats.
From 1105, when it recognized the rule of
the first Hungarian-Croatian king Coloman,
Zadar began to be involved in
frequent wars with Venice.
Zadar was under the Republic of Venice
between 1111 and 1154 and between 1160
and 1183, before it was finally taken by
the Venetians and the knights of the
Fourth Crusade in 1202.
The Crusaders had promised the Venetians a
certain amount of money to pay for ships
for transport to Egypt, but when they
could not pay, the Venetians diverted
the Crusaders to Zadar.
After several insurrections (1242-1243,
1320s, 1345-1346), Zadar came under the
rule of the Hungarian-Croatian king
Louis I (under the Zadar Peace Treaty in 1358).
After the death of Louis, Zadar recognised
the rule of king Sigismund, and after him,
that of Ladislas of Naples, who in 1409
sold Zadar and "his rights"
on Dalmatia to Venice.
From this time on Zadar started to decline,
because the Venetians considerably limited
the town's political and economic autonomy.
When in the early 16th century the Ottoman
Turks conquered the Zadar hinterland,
the town became an important stronghold
ensuring the Venetian trade in the Adriatic,
as well as the administrative centre of the
Venetian possessions in Dalmatia
and a cultural centre.
After the fall of Venice (1797) with the
Treaty of Campo Formio, Zadar came under
Austrian rule under which it remained until
1918, except for the period of French rule
(1805-1813), all this time
remaining the capital of Dalmatia.
During the period of French rule, the first
newspaper in the Croatian language,
'Kraljski Dalmatin', was published
in Zadar (1806-1810).
In the second half of the 19th century,
Zadar was a centre of the movement for the
cultural and national revival in Dalmatia.
However, under the Treaty of Rapallo,
1920, Zadar was ceded to Italy.
Nazi Germany occupied the city in World War
II, as it was once one of the best-fortified
cities in the world, and Zadar was bombed
72 times by the air forces of
Britain and the United States.
Afterwards it was joined again with Croatia
(at the time in Yugoslavia).
Consequently, much of Zadar's Italian population
left for Italy as refugees, among whom was
Ottavio Missoni, owner of the
renowned fashion company Missoni.
Since World War II the city has developed
as a strong economic and tourist centre.
In 1991 Serbian irregulars and the
Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) attacked Zadar
and it found itself on the very edge of
occupied territory as a shelling target.
Connections with the capital Zagreb were
severed for over a year, the only link being
via the island of Pag.
Zadar was once again severely damaged in the
war, including its historical
bastions and churches.
The siege of the city lasted until January 1993,
when the hinterland of Zadar was liberated.
However, the attacks continued up to 1995,
when the war in Croatia finally ended.
Zadar gained its urban structure in Roman times;
during the time of Emperors Julius Caesar and
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 was supplying the town
with water has been partly preserved.
Inside the ancient town, a mediaeval town
had developed, when a series of churches
and monasteries had been built.
During the Middle Ages, Zadar had fully
gained its urban aspect, which has been
maintained until today.
In the 16th century, Venice fortified the
town with a new system of defensive walls
on the side facing land.
In the first half of the 16th century,
architectural building in the
Renaissance style was continued.
Defence trenches were built also (Fosa),
which were completely buried
during the Italian occupation.
Although in the second half of the 19th
century by rule of Austria fortifications
were destroyed, wall lines have
been preserved until today.
In the bombardments during the Second
World War, entire blocks were destroyed,
but some of the structures were preserved.
Most important landmarks:
Roman Forum - the largest on the eastern
side of the Adriatic, founded by the first
Roman Emperor Augustus, to which two stone
inscriptions about its completion dating
from the 3rd century testify,
St. Donatus' Church - the monumental
building in the pre Romanesque
style from 9th century,
St. Anastasia's Cathedral, basilica
in Romanesque style built
in the 12th to 13th century,
St. Stosija's Church - ended in the
high Romanesque style period,
largest cathedral in Dalmatia.
St. Ilija's Church (St. Elias)
St. Francis' Church, gothic styled church,
site of the signing of the
Zadar Peace Treaty 1358
Five Wells Square
St. Mary's Church which belongs to a
Benedictine Convent founded in 1066
by a noblewoman of Zadar by the name
of Cika with The Permanent Ecclesiastical
Art Exhibition "The Gold
and Silver of Zadar"
Citadel - built in 1409, southwest of the
Land gate, it has remained
the same to this day.
The Land Gate - built according to a
layout of the Venetian architect
Michele Sanmicheli in 1543.
Zadar was, besides Dubrovnik, one of
the centres of development of
Croatian language and culture.
A annalist from the year 1177 noted
that the joyous people of Zadar
accompanying Pope Alexander III on his
way to the basilica sang songs of
praise 'in their native Slavic language'.
The first university mentioned in
1396 was a part of the
The 15th and the 16th centuries were
marked by important activities of
Croatian writers writing in the national
language: Jerolim Vidolic, Petar Zoranic
(who wrote first Croatian novel "Mountains"),
Brne Krnarutic, Juraj Barakovic, Sime Budinic.
During the French rule, the first newspaper
in the Croatian language, Kraljski Dalmatin,
was published in Zadar (1806-1810).
In the second half of the 19th century,
Zadar was a centre of the movement for
the cultural and national revival in Dalmatia.
Today's Zadar's cultural instutions:
The Croatian Theatre House
The National Museum
The Archaeological Museum (established in 1830)
The University of Zadar (founded in 1396)
The Maritime Museum
Permanent Exhibition of Sacral Art
Croatian Singing Musical Society Zoranic (established 1885)
Musical Evenings in St. Donatus (established 1961)
International Choir Competition (established 1997)
Major industries include tourism, traffic,
seaborne trade, agriculture, fishing and
fish farming activities, metal manufacturing
and mechanical engineering industry,
chemicals and non-metal industry and banking.
The farmland just northeast of Zadar,
Ravni Kotari, is a well known
source of marasca cherries.
Distilleries in Zadar have produced
Maraschino since the 16th century.
The above details were retrieved and condensed
All text is available under the terms of the
GNU Free Documentation License (see
Copyrights for details).
Hui Chin and I visited Croatia during our European
travels in 2005.
We have enjoyed our stay in the country, but were very
disappointed with the train services.
Before our departure from new Zealand, we purchased
a rather expensive Regional Eurail Pass with added days
to cover any delays or staying longer in any place than
we have planned for.
Croatia, - at least between places we intended to visit
- have very poor train services.
We arrived from Austria, through Slovenia to Rijeka,
and although Rijeka connected by rail to Pula, our next
stop, the train service is very slow and sporadic.
To go from Pula to Zadar or Split, or Dubrovnik, we
either had to go through Zagreb with the consequent
delay or use the bus services, which we did have to
The roads are very good, so are the bus services, but
it meant extra expenses for us, with already paid for
With the good roads Croatia is catering for the neighbouring
countries drivers, not for the like of us, with limited
budgets, who can't afford a car or hired car in every
country we like to visit.
Hui Chin and I enjoyed our stay.
Plenty of interesting, historical architecture to see.
Unfortunately I do not have many of my photos left,
although we had four cameras between us and we taken
many, many photos wherever we went, two of my cameras,
with large, 512 MB SD Cards and many thousands of photos
on them with my valet and money, were stolen from my
bag, later into our trip, by some 'lowlife'.
You can click on these photos for an enlargement.
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