Top Historic Sights in Zadar, Croatia

Explore the historic highlights of Zadar

Roman Forum

Roman Forum of Zadar is the largest on the eastern side of the Adriatic sea, founded by the first Roman Emperor Augustus, as shown by two stone inscriptions about its completion dating from the 3rd century.  Ancient Zadar (or Iadera as the Romans would say) was a Roman colony from 48BC until the disintegration of the Roman empire in the 5th century. After a violent earthquake in the 6th century, the buildings surroundin ...
Founded: 1st century AD | Location: Zadar, Croatia

Church of St Donatus

The Church of St Donatus name refers to Donatus of Zadar, who began construction on this church in the 9th century and ended it on the northeastern part of the Roman forum. It is the largest Pre-Romanesque building in Croatia. The beginning of the building of the church was placed to the second half of the 8th century, and it is supposed to have been completed in the 9th century. The Zadar bishop and diplomat Donat (8th ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Zadar, Croatia

Zadar Cathedral

The Cathedral of St. Anastasia is the largest church in all of Dalmatia. The church"s origins date back to a Christian basilica built in the 4th and 5th centuries, while much of the currently standing three-nave building was constructed in the Romanesque style during the 12th and 13th centuries. The site has been submitted to UNESCO"s Tentative List of World Heritage Sites. History The first known bishop in Za ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Zadar, Croatia

St. Mary's Church

Church of St. Mary is a benedictine monastery church founded in 1066 on the eastern side of the old Roman forum.  The benedictine monastery was founded beside an existing church in 1066 by the Zadar noblewoman Čika. The monastery subsequently received royal protection and grants by king Petar Krešimir IV. After becoming a nun later in life, Čika endowed the monastery with two hymnariums and a prayer book, along with ...
Founded: 1066 | Location: Zadar, Croatia

St. Chrysogonus Church

The Church of St. Chrysogonus isnamed after Saint Chrysogonus, the patron saint of the Zadar. The Romanesque church was consecrated by Lampridius, Archbishop of Zadar, in 1175. Built at the site of a Roman emporium, it replaced the Church of Saint Anthony the Hermit and is the only remaining part of a large medieval Benedictine abbey. In 1387, Elizabeth of Bosnia, the murdered queen dowager of Hungary and Dalm ...
Founded: 1175 | Location: Zadar, Croatia

Monastery of St. Francis Assisi

The Monastery of St. Francis Assisi in Zadar, along with a church of the same name, was built around 1221. It was consecrated on October 12, 1282 by bishop Lovro Periandar. Throughout the centuries of its history the monastery was the focal point of religious life in the city of Zadar. It was also home to the Franciscan school, precursor to today"s University of Zadar. It had rich picture gallery as well as a coll ...
Founded: 1221 | Location: Zadar, Croatia

St. Dominic Church

The gothic Church of St Dominic used to stand west of the Land gate. The first Croatian university mentioned in 1396 was a part of the monastery. This former church building has had an interesting past. Consecrated in 1280, it belonged to a Dominican monastery who founded the first university in Croatia there (1396). When Napoleon took Zadar in 1805, he abolished the Dominican order, turned the church into a barracks, an ...
Founded: 1280 | Location: Zadar, Croatia

St. Simeon's Church

First built in the 5th century, St. Simeon"s Church has undergone alterations until as recently as 1980, and some find the terracotta and white exterior disappointing in comparison with the other churches. This 17th-century church is best known as the home of the mummified body of St. Simeon, one of Zadar’s patron saints. The Chest of Saint Simeon is a rectangular cedarwood sarcophagus in the shape of a chass ...
Founded: 17th century | Location: Zadar, Croatia

Land Gate

Once the largest city-fortress in the entire Republic of Venice, Zadar’s walls allowed it to retain more of its independence than most of its neighbouring cities, and meant that it was never captured by the Turks. The most impressive gate of the walls was Land Gate - then the main entrance into the city - in the little Foša harbour, built by a Venetian architect Michele Sanmicheli in 1543. It is considered one of the ...
Founded: 1543 | Location: Zadar, Croatia

Venetian Fortress

Forte Fortress is situated east of the monumental Land gate, built in 1567 by the Venetian military commander Sforza Pallavicino. The fortress was separated from the city and from land by defensive moats. Today the Vladimir Nazor Park is situated there. Following the shoreline next to the Forte fortress one reaches the area of Kolovare, where a convex well with head was built in 1546 next to the sea and was used to supply ...
Founded: 1567 | Location: Zadar, Croatia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Abbey of Saint-Étienne

The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.

Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.

The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.

As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).