The mythical port of Zadar
Mythical ports of the Mediterranean
First broadcast date
Croatia port with Mediterranean charm, located on the Adriatic coast, North of Dalmatia, Zadar means " that was already there", as to show its long history...
The port is a meeting place for ferry-boats leading to the countless islands, as well as fishing boats and sailboats.
It is also a university campus where students often come sit on the stairs of the "sea organs", an amazing musical instrument built in the port and played by the wind and the waves.
COPEAM - Coproduction
- HRT - Coproduction
Credits / Cast
- Devcic Tania - Journalist
- Besednik Jadranka - Journalist
- Gugic Zoran - Journalist
- Croatia - Dalmatia - Zadar
The strange music coming from the "sea organ" which, since 2005, has welcomed visitors entering Zadar's harbour, are an astonishing but pertinent way of showing the links uniting this Croatian city with the sea. Thirty five stainless steel tubes interpret the song of the sea from the movement of the waves and the north wind. It seems this part of the Adriatic coast was occupied by a tribe of Illyrian origin around the 9th century BC. This small Liburnian town became a Roman colony at the end of the 1st century BC after it had helped Octavian during the first Dalmatian war. The trade in olive oil and wine were its principal exports with other cities in the Empire.
Taken by the Goths in the 5th century, it fell under Byzantine control the following century (538). That lasted until the second half of the 14th century, when the Hungarians took it, and then the Venetians. Which shows how important it was, indeed for four hundred years it was a key in the geostrategic defence against a Turkish invasion: they did in fact make several incursions into the region (1434 and 1463) before devastating it in 1470. The Turkish-Venetian war (1537-40) once again wrecked the region, though Zadar was able to have commercial dealings with the Ottomans, selling mostly salt and buying wheat, meat, cheese and wool. In the middle of the 17th century, as the great Venetian-Turkish military operations were drawing to a close, plague struck Dalmatia and Zadar in particular. Then the town went through a period of famine. Finally the Austrians took Zadar in 1797, keeping it until the end of the First World War, except for a short time when it was attached to the province of Illyria created by Napoleon Bonaparte.
At the end of the world war, the Treaty of Rapallo came into force, fixing the new borders between Italy and Yugoslavia (in November 1920). Zadar was told it was now part of Italy.
The town, suffered terrible damage and great loss of life during the Allied bombing of 1943-44. Three years later it became part of Yugoslavia, then in 1991 part of the newly independent Croatia.
The economy was based on fishing, sheep, cereals, olive trees, vines and fruit trees, as well as ship building.
With around 80,000 people, Zadar is today Croatia's fifth largest town – including a small Italian community. Beside the traditional port activities (fishing and coastal trading), it has a real potential for tourism, with its rich history (basilicas, churches, convents, murals) and the development of its coastline which now welcomes cruise ships and pleasure boats. Breaking the steel chain across the entrance to its harbour was a powerful symbol of the new leaders' desire to open up the town to the outside world.
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Cabanes P. (dir.), Histoire de l’Adriatique, Paris, 2001.
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Voinovitch L., Histoire de Dalmatie, Paris 1934.