Historical town Zadar Croatia
All historical towns on the Adriatic where often accessed by sea rather than by land. Zadar was no exception. Its location on a natural peninsula facilitated the development of an excellent, big harbour in the deep bay of the Liburnian settlement, a Roman colony, a powerful mediaeval and Renaissance town until the beginning of the 20th century, when it was mostly replaced by the new town quay, known as Nova Riva, on the southern side.
In the 1930s, a bridge was constructed between the mainland (known as »tearaferma«) in the district of Voštarnica and the historical town core on the peninsula. The bridge was devastated together with most of the coast curing air raids in 1943-1944. However, the after-war rehabilitation failed to restore the maritime quality of the harbour, as the new bridge does not open, although it was designed and constructed as such.
Thanks to fertile plains in the hinterland, which no other town of city in Dalmatia has, overland access routes to the centre of Zadar were numerous and important, and provided favourable conditions for lively communication and expecially trading. Unfortunately, such access routes made things easy for the conquerors, i.e. the crusading Venetians in 1202, who became notorious for their cruelty, devastations and plundering. The fortifications of Zadar resisted for a long time. One of the conquerors, the French knight Vilaehourden was amazed at their strength and resistance, for which Zadar was unmatched by any other city on the Mediterranean.
The Ottoman Turks
.. also approached Zadar city at cock-crow. During the second half of the 16th century, Zadar was fortified again, and the enhanced system of fortifications was constructed to the designs of the most eminent Venetian military engineers, M. Baglione, M. Sanmicheli and S. Pallavicino. Those extensions included reinforcements on the eastern and northern side of the city, with new curtains and bastions of the Citadel and Grimani toward the east, and Moro, St. Chrysogonus or St. Roch, St. Demetrius and the Kaštel fortalice toward the north.
Toward the harbour, the city walls had only two gates – the Harbour Gate (Porta Maina) and the Chain Gate, named after the chain that blocked access to the harbour. St. Roch's Gate, although opened, were immediately walled in, to be reopened in the 19th century. The new entrance to the city was opened when the harbour bridge was constructed between the two Word Wars. In contrast to the southern side the city, where the fortifications were completely pulled down, the northern fortifications have been almost entierly preserved until the present. Despite contemporary physical modifications, one can iimagine their historical apperance, as it was seen in panoramic paintings and drawings made in the 19th century.
..has been the central town square since mediaeval times, when it was known as Platea Magna. It has a square base, and its fronts consists of a number of buildings of residential and public character, dating back to different periods. The remnants of the earliest building, St. Lawrence's church, are found on the western side of the Square, behind the town coffee house. It was a small structure, built in the 11th century, with a number of architectural features, and is one of the most important monuments from the transitional period of the pre-Romanesque with some traits of the Byzantine style toward the Romanesque style, which is expecially conspicuous in sculptures. The interior is a fine example of amalgamation of the central and the longitudinal form of sacral buildings of that period. In the central part of the building, supported by four columns, there was a Square-shaped drum with the cupola.
.. there was the rectangular sanctuary with two small apses in the corners, whereas on the western side there was a two-lwvel anteroom above which there was the belfrey. In the south-western part of the Square there are two monumental public buildings, opposite each other. The Municipal Guard on the western and the Municipal Loggia on the eastern side. The Municipal Guard was built in 1562 in the Mannerist style. In 1798 a new municipal clock tower was erected above its central part. The Guard is separated from the National Square by a fence with round openings for cannons.
.. the former courthouse and seat of public institutions of the town, was built on the location of an earlier mediaeval structure in 1565, in the late Renaissance style, as an open porch with columns and arhes, most probably to the design of the Venetian architect Gian Girolamo Sanmicheli.
The north-eastern corner of the Square is formed by the Ghirardini Palace, built in the Romanesque style with the monumental Gothic-Renaissance monophora from the second half of the 15th century. Special attention should be paid to the balcony with festoons, made by the Renaissance sculptor Nicholas of Florence. In the 1930s, under Italian aministration, a number of mediaeval buildings on the north-western side of the Square was pulled down, in order to build the present building of the Town Council, in the typical manner of the provincial Italian architecture of that period, inadequate in form and size to the proportions of the Square.