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A Small Town with a Giant History

Our ship docked along the waterfront in Zadar, Croatia

Phil & Carol among the Roman ruins

Today we arrived at the small town of Zadar, Croatia.  Bet you never heard of it right, neither had I.  Makes sense – after all, it’s only been here since the 6th century BC!  The Illyrians first settled this area way back then, but it was the Romans and the Byzantines who really developed the town.  Zadar is located on the central coastal area of Croatia.  The most famous destination in Croatia is the coast.  Whether you travel by road or sea along the 1100 miles of the Adriatic shoreline, you are guaranteed a journey of spectacular scenery and breathtaking views, and Zadar is no exception.

One of the gates in the 16th century wall surrounding the Old City

This is the coast where myths are made.  It’s here that Homer’s Odysseus, returning from the Trojan War, was waylaid by the nymph Calypso.  Centuries later, Croatia became the setting for medieval romance when Richard the Lion-Heart was shipwrecked off the coast.  And to Shakespeare, Illyria, the pre-Roman name for Croatia, was the most outlandish place he could think of for the setting of Twelfth Night.

Part of the market area. The fruits and vegetables looked delicious

But enough of the history lesson.  Today Zadar is a very well-preserved example of a medieval town.  Zadar’s natural defenses – it is located on a narrow peninsula – were enhanced by massive 16th century walls.  These are still in existence today, and inside the walls is a very well-preserved “Old Town”.  In 1943-44, Allied bombers destroyed many of the buildings.  Then, to the dismay of its citizens, Zadar was shelled again in the winter of 1991 by the National Army, damaging the cathedral and houses.  But things have now returned to normal, and Zadar is again one of the most intriguing towns on the coast.

We spent the day looking at the Roman ruins, shopping in the small shops in the old city or at the marketplace and having a bite in the local eateries.  The town was exceptionally clean and the vendors and townspeople went out of their way to be friendly.

Ah Ha! Now I know the reason for the exceptionally clean streets!

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