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Croatia  Zadar  Sights

  • Archeological Museum (Arheološki muzej) | On the Forum square is the low, modern building of the Archeological Museum, featuring artefacts from Zadar's development from Prehistoric times through to the first Croatian settlements. For a chronological tour, it makes sense to go directly to the prehistoric exhibition on the second floor, which covers decorative ceramics, weaponry and items the seafaring Liburnians brought from Greece and Italy. The first floor covers the Classical period, from the Romanised Liburnians (1st century BC) to the widescale Roman settlement (6th century AD). Artefacts include weaponry, items from local necropoli and sculpture, mosiacs and art created in far-flung parts of the Roman Empire. The collection of 1st-3rd century glassware is wonderful. Also well worth seeing is a reconstruction showing the Forum area in Roman times. In a smaller room are exhibits from the development of Christianity in North Dalmatia in the late Classical and early Byzantine period, and rare artefacts from the invasion of the Goths. The ground floor (early Middle Ages, 8th to 11th centuries) contains exhibits from early Croatian graves near Nin, and stone furniture from churches which did not survive the ages.

  • National Museum (Narodni muzej Zadar) | The Zadar branch of the National Museum traces the urban development of Zadar from the Baroque to the first half of the 19th century: architectural fragments, portraiture, furniture and (particularly recommended) early photography. There are also scale models of Zadar through the ages. The scientific section of the National Museum is kept in the Deputy's Palace.

  • Research Library and Historical Archive | Zadar's Research Library is the second largest Croatian institution of this kind after the National University Library in Zagreb. It was founded in 1855 by local professor and benefactor Petar Aleksandar Paravija, and was originally in the Loggia on Narodni trg, moving into the present building, an attractive yellow building which used to be a barracks. It's the bedrock upon which not only Zadar's rich cultural and educational life rests, but also that of Croatia. Zadar was for a long time the administrative centre of Dalmatia, under many colonial powers. The documentation kept here, and in the Historical Archive (near St Dimitri's church) is the seed of knowledge of much of Croatia's legal and political past.

  • St Francis's Church & Franciscan Monastery | (Franjevaèki samostan i Crkva sv. Franje Asiškog) Consecrated in 1280, Saint Francis's is the oldest Gothic church in Dalmatia, also displaying fine Renaissance and Baroque work, and containing some very important artworks. The church was the venue for the signing of the Zadar peace treaty of 1358, when the Venetians ended centuries of attacks on the city and handed it to the protection of the Croatian-Hungarian King Ludwig I of Anjou. Particularly worth seeing is the wonderful choir in a local style known as Floral Gothic. The attached Franciscan monastery has a beautiful Renaissance cloister. Zadar's young people like to come here for Midnight Mass at Christmas.

  • St Thomas's Church (Crkva sv.Tome) | The remains of this Early Christian church (late 5th century) on the corner of St Chrysongonus' Square and Ulica Šimuna Kožicica Benje, were knocked down in 1822 to make way for a school, rediscovered in 1969, and the frontage was restored, now forming the facade of a shop. Some of the stone furniture of the interior is now in the Archeological Museum.

  • Gallery of Arts (Galerija umjetnina) | A permanent exhibition of Croatian art and sculpture from the 19th and 20th centuries. Particularly of note are the artworks dating 1945-49, a collection of Baroque sacred art and the works of prominent Zadar artist Franjo Salghetti.

  • Deputy's Palace (Providurova palaèa) | Completed in 1607 as the residence of the Venetian Deputy to Zadar, it now houses the Matica Hrvatska (the Central Croatian Cultural and Publishing Society). The building adjoining it at Meduliceva 2 houses the Scientific Department of the National Musem (exhibiting flora and fauna, including sea life, not only of the Zadar region but from all over the world) and the Gallery of Arts. The latter has a permanent exhibition of Croatian art and sculpture from the 19th and 20th centuries, notably a collection of Baroque sacred art and works by prominent Zadar artist Franja Salghetti.

  • St Dimitri's Church (Crkva sv. Dimitrija) | St Dimitri's is an unusual example of Neo-Classical architecture in Dalmatia. It was completed in 1906 by Viennese architect Karl Susan, and has an unusual central cupola. It was part of an educational complex, and two of the buildings now house the Historical Archives (see The Research Library and Historical Archive, page XX, History), the University's Faculty of Humanities and the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences.

  • the First Croatian University | By St Dominic's church stands an attractive old white stone building, part of the Dominican monastery complex, with a plaque proclaiming its pride in being the first site of a University on Croatian soil. Established in 1396 by the Dominican monks, this puts Zadar up there with famous seats of learning such as Cambridge and Barcelona (1303), Heidelberg (1385), Charles University Prague (1348), (but not quite so old as Padova (1222) and Paris (1229). Zadar's University focuses on humanities, and one can't help envying those students: one look at the yellow Faculty on the Riva shows you that there are worse places to be than by the sea.

  • Nassis and Patrizio Palaces (Palaèe Nassis i Petrizio) | Near St Simeon's Church in Ulica don Ive Prodana are two beautiful examples of Gothic-Renaissance palaces, demonstrating how architecture, and in particular the creation of courtyard gardens, flowered during the 14th and 15th centuries behind the city walls, despite incessant bombardment by enemies.

  • Palace Grisogono (Palaèa Grisogono) | Another palace near St Simeon's, on the corner of Ulica don Ive Prodana and Ulica Ilije Smiljanica. The first floor originally consisted of two connected Romanesque buildings. In the 16th Century a first floor was added in a combination of Renaissance and Gothic styles. Again, the courtyard is well worth a look.

  • St Michael's Church (Crkva sv. Mihovila) | On the corner of Ulica Špire Brusine and Ulica Mihe Klaica is the simple and charming Gothic frontage of St Michael's, once part of a Franciscan monastery. A relief on the portal shows St Michael flanked by St Anastasia and St Chrysogonus. The present church was built in 1389 and added to in the 19th century. Of interest inside are a 13th century painted Romanesque crucifix and a statue of Saint Michael on the high altar.

  • Church of Our Lady of Health (Crkva Gospe od 'Kaštela' (Zdravja) | In the green park by Three Wells Square (see Essential Zadar above) is the little orange Church of Our Lady of Health, one of the city's best-loved churches. It lies in the quiet old neighbourhood of Kampo Kaštelo. Built in 1703 on the site of two much older churches, it contains a copy of a famous painting “Our Lady of Kaštelo”, the original of which is now in the Permanent Exhibition of Religious Art (see The Silver and Gold of the City of Zadar, above).

  • Church of St Mary “de Pusterla” Stomorica | The foundations of this tiny Early Christian church (11th Century) were found in 1880 near Hotel Zagreb on the northern edge of the peninsula, and uncovered in the '60s. The floor plan of the church is fascinating: the five semicircular apses (typical of early Dalmatian church architecture) and the semicircular portal surrounding the central space give it an unusual six-leaved clover shape.

  • St Andrew's and St Peter the Elder's | On the corner of Ulica Dalmatinskog Sabora and Ulica Hrvoja Vukcica Hrvatinica (near the market), the simple frontage of St Andrew's has an unremarkable 17th century facade, but other parts date back to the 5th and 6th centuries. Through the apse you enter the very unusual church of St Peter the Elder, also from the early Middle Ages. Both contain fragments of ancient frescoes, and the atmospheric interiors are now used as exhibition spaces.

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