Zadar

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Zadar (Iadera, Iader) is a city in Croatia on the Adriatic Sea and centre of Zadar County and once in history centre of the Dalmatia. It is also seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Zadar that is separated from the rest of Croatias dioceses mostly because of the historical reasons. Zadar is one of the most-growing touristic destinations in Croatia, and Ryan Air, one of the major low-cost airlines has made Zadar airport on of their bases - so they now promote Zadar as the major destination in Croatia.   

In antiquity, the origin of Iadera and Iader, the much older roots of the settlement's names, was obscure, but the names were most probably telated to a hydrographical term. Ancient Mediterranena pople have transmitted it to later settlers, the Liburnians. The name of the Liburnian settlement was first mentioned in 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.

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.

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. The local sea carrier Jadrolinija connects this island from Zadar harbour.

Zadar gained its urban structure in Roman times; during the time of Julus 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 amphiteatre 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.

The chief interest of Zadar lies in its churches.

  • St. Donatus' Church - a monumental round building from the 9th century in pre-Romanesque style, traditionally but erroneously said to have been erected on the site of a temple of Juno. It is the most important preserved structure of its period in Dalmatia; the massive dome of the rotunda is surrounded by a vaulted gallery in two stories which also extends around the three apses to the east. The church treasury contains some of the finest Dalmatian metalwork; notably the pastoral staff of Bishop Valaresso (1460).
  • St. Anastasia's Cathedral (Croatian: Sv. Stošija), basilica in Romanesque style built in the 12th to 13th century (high Romanesque style), the largest cathedral in Dalmatia.
  • The churches of St. Chrysogonus and St. Simeon, where the silver ark or reliquary of St. Simeon (1380) is located, are also fine architectural examples in the Romanesque style.
  • St. Chrysogonus's Church - monumental Romanesque church of very fine proportions and refined Romanesque ornaments.
  • St. Elijah's Church (Croatian: Sv. Ilija)
  • St. Francis' Church, gothic styled church, site of the signing of the Zadar Peace Treaty 1358
  • Five Wells Square
  • St. Mary's Church, which retains a fine Romanesque campanile from 1105, 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"

Other architectural landmarks:

  • Citadel - built in 1409, southwest of the Land gate, it has remained the same to this day.
  • The Land Gate - built to a design by the Venetian architect Michele Sanmicheli in 1543
  • The unique Sea organ (modern structure) with solar Hail to Sun
  • The Great Arsenal
  • Among the other chief buildings are the Loggia del Comune, rebuilt in 1565, and containing a public library; the old palace of the priors, now the governor's residence; and the episcopal palaces.

It may sound unbelievable but Zadar also hosts the only Sphinx replica in Croatia.

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

In the 20th century, roads became more important than sea routes, but Zadar remained an important traffic point. The main road along the Adriatic passes through the city. In the immediate vicinity, there is the Zagreb-Dubrovnik highway, finished up to Split in 2005. Zadrans can access to the highway by two interchanges: Zadar 1 exit in the north and Zadar 2 highway hub near Zemunik in the south. The southern interchange is connected to Zadar port of Gaženica by the D424 expressway.

Since 1966, a railway has linked Zadar with Knin, where it joins the main railway from Zagreb to Split. It has an international sea line to Ancona in Italy. There is a plan for an "Adriatic Railway" line linking Zadar with Gospić and Split. Zadar International Airport is located in Zemunik, around 14 km to the east of Zadar and accessible via the expressway. The airport is experiencing year on year an average of 30% increase in passenger traffic mainly due to arrivals of lowcost carriers (Ryanair, Germanwings, Intersky, Danubewings, JobAir) connecting Zadar from the end of March through October with over 20 cities throughout Europe. Currently, the arrivals and departures terminal building is expanding to accommodate the increasing number of passengers, with completion scheduled for March 2011. The extension of the runway for an additional 500m from the current 2500m is scheduled for late 2011.

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