The city of Zadar on the Croatian Adriatic coast seems almost like a monument on which the course of the centuries can be traced. For although it has been devastated and destroyed time and again in the course of its history, it has always found the strength to rise from the ruins more beautiful and magnificent than ever before, like a phoenix.
The area of today’s “Zadar” was already inhabited in prehistoric times and the settlement is first mentioned in the 4th century B.C. (at that time still as “Jader” and ancestral seat of the Liburnians, an Illyrian tribe). In the course of time, it was to bear various names, such as Idassa, Jadera, Diadora or Zara, and from this alone one can see how varied its history was – and that is precisely what makes it so interesting for us. For in its face one can see the traces of the most diverse peoples and cultures that enriched its history.
The Romans, for example, who declared the city a Roman colony in the 1st century BC, gave it its symmetrical road network. In the 7th century it became the capital of the Byzantine province of Dalmatia, and it was during this period that the city’s landmark was built – the Church of the Holy Trinity, now known as St. Donatus. In 1202, Zadar was conquered and burned down by Crusaders and Venetian armies, only to be rebuilt over the next few centuries. Signs of this period are the first Gothic churches of Dalmatia such as St. Francis or St. Dominic, but especially the silver shrine of St. Simeon is an important part of the history of this city.
Its turbulent history was to continue in later centuries. In 1797, the city came under the Habsburgs, who had to cede it to France in 1806. After the end of Napoleonic rule, Zadar returned to the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy and became the capital of the Kingdom of Dalmatia. After the First World War it was to become part of Italy, after the Second World War a provincial city in the multi-ethnic state of Yugoslavia, and today we know it as one of Croatia’s most beautiful and important tourist cities.