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Croatia  Zadar and Zadar-archipelago

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Image1 Someone once named Zadar Croatia as the town of gold. The Permanent Exhibition of Church Art is even better known as "The gold and Silver of Zadar" (a name given by the famous writer Miroslav Krezla). But in fact the whole town seems to be made out of gold and silver. This impression inspired numerous conquerors in their attempts to take possession of the town. Zadar is situated on a coastal peninsula with a view of the Zadar archipelago, just in front of the fertile plains of Ravni kotari. The vitality of the town and its inhabitants results from the meeting of the land and the sea.

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Zadar was founded in prehistoric times, while the Roman period was at the time of its greatest prosperity. The city was built according to the principles of the Roman urban network, with the largest Forum and a huge temple on the eastern coast of the Adriatic. The ancient city remained up to early Middle Ages when it was burnt to ashes. But life went on. The best proof of this is the fact that the church of the Holy Trinity, from the 15th century refered to as the church of St. Donat. lt was built directly on the ancient Roman Forum while its foundations are made out of fragments of the Roman temple. The medieval and Christian Zadar was the centre of Dalmatia with numerous fortifications, churches and monasteries. During modern times some new monuments were built, and some of the old ones were modified.

The present-day Zadar is a living monument of different historical eras that owing to the combination of circumstances transformed into a modern town. Each step leads you to the evidence of the encounter of different epochs: antique and medieval town walls with the Captain 's tower from the 13th century, antique pavement and medieval churches with city palaces from the 19th century, modern buildings stand next to medieval palaces and monasteries. The first University was founded in the 14th century within the Dominican monastery, Petar Zoranie wrote the first Croatian novel "Planine" ("Mountains") in Zadar where the Faculty of Arts was established in 1956. Zadar has always been a town of beauty and culture. The best proof of this fact is the exceptional Exhibition of Church Art situated within the Benedictine nunnery of St. Mary. Numerous valuable relics, stone ornaments and paintings demonstrate the riches of religious life. Another collection of high value is kept in the Archeological Museum, while the Scientific Library is one of the richest in Croatia.

Zadar is also a town of picturesque ambiences. lts location on a flat peninsula in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea gives the town a certain particularity. The promenade around the peninsula offers an unforgettable impression of the sight of the islands at sunset. Walks around the old town are a real happening for each inhabitant of Zadar as well as for its visitors. Entering the town from the promenade shore you can enjoy the stories of the glorious past told by each historical stone remnant. The antique Forum with the monumental church of St. Donat and the church-tower of the cathedral make the familiar frame of pleasant repose in the mediterranean sun almost all the year around. Along cosy narrow streets you can experience the sweet scent of Dalmatian cuisine, hear the murmur of the people from numerous cafes, as well as the spontaneous sounds of Dalmatian songs.

The street of Siroka leads to the main town square from the Forum. lt is the commercial and social artery of the town. The square, bordered by the Renaissance monuments: the City Loggia and the City Guardhouse, is the most popular meeting place for the inhabitants of Zadar.

Further eastward is situated the medieval church of St. Simeon consecrated to the town protector St. Simeon. According to the legend from the 13 th century the tradition of the worship of St. Simeon began after the shipwreck of a vessel carrying the relics of the saint near Zadar. St. Simeon's chest, a precious goldsmith work made by the sculptor Francis of Milan in the 14th century is still kept in the church. Southward towards the shore you come to the old medieval part of the town with narrow streets and old houses pulsating with the intensity of life. Northward from the main street in direction of the city walls is the green and fish market, one of the richest on the Adriatic. Farther eastward is the Land Gate built in the 16th century according to the drawings of the Renaissance sculptor Michaele Sanmicheli. From the fortifications still surrounding the majority of the town you have an excellent view of the new part of the town, hotels, beaches and the "Maraska" factory well known for its over one hundred years' tradition of the production of the famous liqueur "Maraschino".

The biggest islands in the region of Zadar Riviera

Image2Dugi Otok | See Dugi Otok on Croatian map Dugi otok is the largest of the Zadar archipelago islands with a surface area of 144.44 km2, the seashore length being 179.75 km with eleven settlements facing towards the mainland and a steep south western side facing the open sea. The most attractive for tourists are the south western and westerly parts of the island. Telescica in the southwest was proclaimed a Nature Park and is both in its relief and geology a part of the Kornati National Park. The western part is renowned for its tourist resort Bozava, sandy beach called Sakarum and the Veli rat lighthouse dominating the whole area. Sali is a tourist and fishing town and is the administrative seat of the island. The Zadar - Brbinj ferry line connects Dugi Otok with the mainland.

Ist | Ist, with a town bearing the same name, is a true destination for a peaceful and quiet vacation. The waters around the island abound in fish; this being the reason it attracts many recreational fishermen, though the sea bottom is no less interesting for divers. Anchorage is available in the Mljaka bay where guests are offered accommodation in private holiday houses.

Iz | Iz, an island mid channel between the islands of Ugljan and Dugi Otok, is surrounded by ten islets. In the two settlements Veli and Mali Iz kind hosts offering private accommodation await your coming. There are a hotel and a marina in Veli Iz. The old handicraft of pottery making has been, to this day, preserved in Veli Iz. Every year the town organises the Iz Festival where a part of the festival is the election of the King of Iz - this being a custom going back to ancient times.

Kornati | The most indented island group amounting to approximately 140 small islands in the Adriatic. It has a great landscape value with high cliffs where endemic cliff vegetation is found (centaura and woody spurge). The relief is interesting and covered in stony coastal pastures, consisting of salt-weathered geological structures. Over one third of the National Park's surface area consists of a seabed belonging to the richest ecosystem in the Adriatic, part of which is the Purar Sea Reserve.

Image3Molat | Molat is an island overgrown with maquis and pine forests and is the ideal destination for hermits and those seeking hiking treks with a taste of Mediterranean vegetation. The many bays are a frequent destination for boaters and sailors. King Edward VIII, in the company of Wallis Simpson, visited the island on his Adriatic.

Image4 Olib Olib, with a town bearing the same name, is part of the western Zadar archipelago overgrown by maquis and especially black pine. It was inhabited in Roman times already, and is mentioned by the Byzantine Emperor Constantine IX Monomachus in the 10th century. As there are no cars on the island, one can here spend one's vacation in private accommodation far from any bustle. The island is a favourite destination for boaters and sailors and recreational fishermen.

Image4Osljakl | Osljak is a small island in the Zadar channel covered in Mediterranean vegetation with protruding cypresses. The old fishing harbour is an example of indigenous Mediterranean architecture. St. Mary's Church dating from the 6th century stands in the town.

Pasman | An island with a surface area of 60 square kilometres, separated from the mainland by the Pasman channel, which is strewn all over with many islets. It is connected to the mainland by the Biograd - Tkon ferry line, and by bridge over the Zdrelac strait with the island of Ugljan, with which it shares similar vegetation. The sea currents in the strait change course every six hours, making the sea water here the cleanest in the Adriatic. The Franciscan Monastery of St. Dujam in Kraj and the Benedictine Monastery of St. Kuzma and Damjan on Mt. Cokovac are well worth visiting.

Pag | The island of Pag, 63 km in length and therefore the second longest island in the Adriatic, has a very indented shoreline (totalling 269 km) strewn with numerous gravel and sandy beaches. The part of the island facing Velebit is devoid of vegetation owing to the strong north-easterly winds that make the landscape resemble that of the moon. The island is connected to the remainder of the county by bridge, but there is a ferry line running from Prizna to Zigljen. The trademarks of the island are: the well-known Pag cheese. Pag lace, salt and the "Zutic" white wine, as well as exceptionally rich folk wear.

Premuda | An island, with a town bearing the same name, is part of the Zadar archipelago west island group. It is covered in maquis and low forests. One can spend a vacation here far from daily routine next to a crystal clear sea. No cars are allowed on the island. It is a special favourite amongst boaters and sailors and recreational fishermen, with anchoring provided in Krijal Bay.

Rava | An island opposite Dugi Otok with the settlements Velika and Mala Rava on it. The island is very indented, with numerous bays. Anchorage is available in Lukovina bay. The island is a favourite destination for boaters and sailors heading for Kornati National Park.

Rivanj | A small island of sailors in the Zadar archipelago, with a town bearing the same name in the interior of the island. It is covered by maquis and is a favourite destination for recreational fishermen, due to the abundance of fish in the surrounding waters.

Sestrunj | This is an island in the Zadar archipelago overgrown by maquis and low forests with a town on a hillock bearing the same name. It is especially attractive for boaters and sailors as it lies on the direct maritime passage from Zadar to the islands in the west.

Silba | Once an island of sailors and captains (in the 18th century Silba possessed a fleet of 98 sailing ships) it is nowadays a tourist resort. Bays with nice sandy and gravel beaches are favourites amongst boaters and sailors and guests staying in private homes. The hexagonal Toreta tower stands in the town and testifies to a sailor's forlorn love.

Ugljan | This island is a suburb and garden of Zadar, if one disregards the few mile wide Zadar channel separating it from the nearby city of Zadar. There are over 200,000 olive trees on the island which give a very high quality oil that, in turn, explains how the island got its name. Well known tourist resorts are Kukljica and Preko where the ferry landing is situated (Zadar-Preko ferries run a number of times per day). Franciscan monasteries are situated on the idyllic island of Galevac, just opposite Preko, and in the town Ugljan. Kali is the home port of the best fishermen in the Adriatic.

Vir | Vir is connected to the reminder of the county by bridge and awaits its guests offering attractive sandy and gravel beaches with accommodation in private homes. This area is especially suitable for windsurfing. hikers can climb the highest peak, Bandira (112 m), from where they can take in a beautiful view of the nearby islands and Velebit Mountain.

Vrgada | Is an island southeast of the island of Pasman, covered by forests on the northeastern side and dropping steeply into the sea on the north western side. Sandy beaches, a crystal clear sea and kind hosts are reason for spending a vacation on the island. Here one can spend one's vacation far from bustle and the problems of modern everyday life.

Zverinac | A small island between the island of Vela Tuna and the north coast of Dugi Otok with a settlement bearing the same name. It is covered in Mediterranean vegetation. The baroque Fanfagn palace is in the town itself. Here one can spend a vacation in private holiday houses far from any bustle.

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