Zadar is an important cruise hub and a historical center of Croatia’s Dalmatia region. Situated in the near proximity of the old town, Zadar Cruise Port is an ideal place for exploring many historic monuments on foot from the Roman, Byzantine and Venetian era. The port is the place where you can watch one of the most beautiful sunsets in the Adriatic coast.
This historical town is well positioned near a number of major cruise ports in the region including Venice, Trieste, Split and Dubrovnik.
The city itself offers cruise travelers many historic attractions from the Venetian tower and wells of Trg Pet Bunara, to the columns of the Roman forum, which dates back to 1BC, to the city walls and city gates which was once the largest city-fortress in the Republic of Venice.
Just few meters from the port is “The Monument to the Sun” the work of the architect Nikola Bašić. This modern monument is a 22 meters diameter circle, consisting of 300 multi-layered glass plates with 10,000 solar panels underneath soaks up solar rays and create a light show after sunset. The small discs nearby are representing other planets in the solar system.
Exploring old city walls and gates while you are in Zadar is a must. As you enter the old city you will see four well preserved gates, the oldest part near the footbridge along the eastern wall section was built by the Romans and the other sections were built by the Venetians.
The Gate of St.Rok and Port Gate, another one is in the Square of the Five Wells, Sea Gate or known as the Gate of St.Chrysogonus, built in 1560 using an Roman arch for a base. The most important and most impressive is the Land Gate, built in Renaissance style by the Venetians in 1543. On top it, the winged lion of Venice greeting visitors as they enter the peninsula from the mainland.
Imagine what life must have been 500 years ago. Five Wells, no longer provide fresh water but provide today’s visitors a sense of daily life here of many centuries. Here you can find an underground water cistern which still can see five wells above ground, the 17th century Church of St.Simeon; many interesting objects are kept in the church, The five sides Captain’s Tower from the Venetians during the threat of Ottoman invasion 16th century; now the four floors connected by a winding staircase has been converted into an exhibition space, and a huge Roman pillar & ancient ruins covered with glass.
Perhaps not much different scene then because today Five Wells Square together with Petar Zoranić Square are still venues for a variety of concerts and entertaining events all year round for the people of Zadar and visitors.
Pillar of Shame
Once upon a time, many hundred years ago, this was one of the most frightening sights. The pillar was a place of punishment, used to chain up people who had committed some misdemeanor, therefore the column earning the name “Pillar of Shame”. The misconduct person was chained to it, humiliated, mocked, and whipped.
The Roman Forum
You can’t miss the Roman Forum due to its location next to the city’s important old churches and heart of Zadar’s historic center.
The Roman Forum was constructed between the 1st century BC and the 3rd century, measuring 90 meters long and 45 meters wide, this area was a central market and public area during Roman times.
The remaining are the foundations of several public buildings, paving stones, Corinthian column, and the broken stonework.
Zadar Cathedral or Cathedral of St.Anastasia, construction began with the Byzantines in the 5th century but rebuilt in the 12th and 13th centuries in Romanesque style. The highlights include the remains of St.Anastasia from 9th century, the stone altars, the wood-carved choir, the facade with its three entrances and two rose windows which the upper in Gothic style and the lower is Romanesque.
The People’s Square
The center of Zadar’s public life in the last five hundred years is the “the People’s Square”. Nowadays, it is still a favorite place to stop and chill, look around the square, the clock tower and old City Guardhouse of the 16th century on its northern side, City Loggia opposite it, and the City Hall built in 1935 on the eastern side.
After that, walk down Kalelarga, the most famous pedestrians street going through the old town Zadar, from the end of old town to the other end.