Just two hours away from Plivice Lakes is Zadar, this was my next halt for 3 days. The drive to Zadar was through the countryside and many fresh farm fruit stalls on the way made our car screeching to a halt frequently. Passing through the landscape of hills hugging the rivers. Forests, vineyards and olive groves, I really feasted on the panorama that unfolded.
Sasa my lovely hostess to the apartment greeted me with the usual Croatian warmth, I was pleasantly surprised to know that the apartment block was just around the famous landmark (Sea Organ) promenade. Zadar (also was known as Jader) is a city on Croatia’s Dalmatian coast.
There are numerous Roman ruins within the surrounds of prominent Old Town. The Venetian gates in the city walls, the Roman era Forum, St Mary’s Convent with religious art dating to the 8th century are iconic to the city.
The 12th century St Anastasia’s Cathedral and the round 9th-century pre-Romanesque Church of St Donatus are landmarks.
Sasha cautioned me of a Marathon taking place at the promenade the next day, so advised me to spend a quiet evening at the Sea Organ. It was the most relaxing, pleasant walk all around the promenade facing the Adriatic Sea.
Soaking in the gentle setting sun the soft sound of the Sea Organ that one could hear from a distance away became very prominently loud. It was like surround sound, there were many people vacantly looking at the sea and beyond seated on the steps of the Sea Organ.
The Sea Organ is an architectural wonder of acoustics at Zadar’s western end of Riva. The melodious sound captured by the thrashing waves is channelled through 35 tubes (organ pipes 70 meters long) that are positioned under the concrete with regular vents under the many steps from where the sound emanates. Zadar’s incredible Sea Organ designed by local architect Nikola Basic is totally mind blowing
The Sea Organ sounds very trance like and works best under rough sea conditions when the waves lash out against the podium. Greetings to the Sun is another corner art installation here, made of glass, I almost mistook it for solar panels!
The World Marathon the next day was a highlight event. The pleasant Riva promenade on the edge of the Old Town peninsula also called Obala Petra sported a festive look. The diversely global cafes dotting around the promenade were crowded and I had to give breakfast a miss.
The participants who had descended here were mainly from Europe, spotted a few Japanese too. There was blaring music, many make shift sports shops, and probably sponsors of the event handed out health drinks to the excited participants.
The weather was perfect, the distance run was along the old city and I saw few runners make it across to the ferry point and Sea Gate where I had wandered after the Marathon began.
Zadar is so conducive to just walk around the Old City and the iconic buildings which I visited daily during my 3 days there.
In most Dalmatian towns the market is a sight to behold, Zadar’s Ribarnica market just near the waterfront is the biggest and best. It’s been there since the Middle Ages, the space that it’s held on has historical significance dating back to World War two!
I was so thankful to bump into this vibrant colourful market (when the group that I sadly hung around with went island hopping) as it satiated my hunger pangs.
The display of sweet tomatoes, strawberries, cherries, figs were a sight for sore eyes. It was lively, the air was filled with the scent of various fresh produce fruits and vegetables mainly from Pag island was refreshing, never have I gorged fruits and vegetables all at once that quenched my thirst and satisfied my hunger as I did here.
I never felt so greedy, the farmers were so kind that many offered me a tasting of the sweetest of seasonal red variety fruits, they even pulled out a chair for me, and they were so kind. Everything appeared so big and the sweet sweet taste of nectar in every fruit was so memorable.
Ancient Zadar in central Croatian Adriatic is one of the best European destinations. Full of historical and cultural monuments, this 3000-year-old city with cosmopolitan cafes, impeccable museums (don’t miss the glass museum), Zadar is an important itinerary for any trip to Croatia.
Text and Photos- Jyoti Shetty