Vagabonding Days 33-36: Zadar, Croatia

Saturday, November 2 to Tuesday, November 5, 2019
Vagabonding Days 33-36
Zadar, Croatia

After exploring Plitvice Lakes National Park for a few days, Daniel and I next headed to the coastal town of Zadar. We picked the city due to its proximity to Paklenica National Park and because it seemed like an interesting place to visit.

Zadar is a popular tourist destination and it’s easy to see why. From the ancient Roman forum and the haunting Sea Organ music installation to the scenic Riva promenade and the Church of Saint Donatus, Zadar has something for everyone. We stayed in the heart of Old Town at our favorite apartment yet – complete with a bathtub (gasp!) and a view of the St. Anastasia Cathedral’s Belltower right out our bedroom window.

Croatia’s fifth largest city, Zadar was bustling in the off season and had plenty of shops and restaurants that were still open. This was a nice change after travelling to some smaller towns and remote areas that all but shut down in low season. We were able to easily run errands and shop for groceries and splurge on gelato within walking distance of our apartment.

We even walked to the City Galleria shopping mall one evening to watch the latest Terminator flick. Although it is only located about a half mile from Old Town, the mall feels a world away. Severe blocky apartment buildings decorated with laundry-strung balconies and graffiti are jumbled together in a neighborhood that feels decidedly… gritty.

The City Galleria was almost completely deserted when we arrived which was confusing at first until we remembered it was Sunday. It was a very different experience from our visit to the insanely crowded shopping mall in New Jersey almost one month ago. Thankfully the movie was in English with Croatian subtitles so we could mostly follow along. Except for all the parts which were in Spanish with Croatian subtitles (if you’ve seen the movie you’ll know what I mean). But we got the jist.

It isn’t difficult to see the devastating impacts of war on Zadar. The oldest continuously-inhabited Croatian city, Zadar is stragically important and has been attacked countless times throughout the years. The Allies extensively bombed Zadar in World War II, destroying 80% of its buildings and killing somewhere between 1,000 and 4,000 people. More recently, fighting for the Croatian War of Independence took place within the city. This is why we saw buildings that looked as if they had been bombed or why there were so many new-looking buildings in the old part of town.

Daniel and I really enjoyed our stay in Zadar and found it to be a fascinating city. We felt comfortable here and wouldn’t have minded staying even longer. Although, that could be the bathtub talking. Sigh. I love a good bath.

Here are some photos from our stay in lovely Zadar. Enjoy!

Daniel listens to the Sea Organ, an an art installation located under the marble steps along the sea wall. It is an experimental musical instrument which plays music via the sea waves.

Another view of Zadar’s Sea Organ.

The waves from this fishing boat created some interesting music from the Sea Organ.

Walking along Zadar’s waterfront.

The Greeting to the Sun art installation. Solar panels collect sunlight and create a spectacular light show at night.

The Greeting to the Sun lit up at night.

Zadar’s Roman Forum. Or, what’s left of it anyway.

A remaining piece of the Roman Forum.

Church of St. Donatus from the 9th Century, with St. Anastasia Cathedral’s Belltower in the background.

St. Mary’s Church, with the Roman Forum in the foreground.

Gate of St. Chrysogonus.

The old city guardhouse.

The view of the square in front of Queen Jelena Madijevka Park.

The entrance to Queen Jelena Madijevka Park.

Walking around the park.

Built in the 1800’s, this park was built on old fortifications.

The view from Queen Jelena Madijevka Park.

Land Gate, formerly the main entrance to the city. Built in 1543.

There’s an adorable poodle lounging on that boat!

Mural for the sports fan club Tornado Zadar.

City Galleria shopping mall.

Walking to the City Galleria shopping mall.

Statue of some famous dude.

Pizza! Cheap and yummy. Sadly, it’s also not on my *mostly* gluten-free and dairy-free diet. At all. Sigh…

The view from the dining room in our apartment. Note the clothes line hanging from the balcony. No one here has dryers so hanging the wash outside is the norm.

View of St. Anastasia Cathedral’s Belltower from our bedroom window. We heard a lot of bells. They were loud.