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Zara / Zadar: the capital of Venetian Dalmatia

This article is also available in: Italian

City located in the center of Dalmatia, it belonged to Italy between 1918 and 1943. The old part of Zara / Zadar is fascinating for its historical monuments. The church of San Donato (St. Donat), is the symbol of the city, while the Archaeological Museum (founded in 1830) is one of the most important in Croatia.


The city became a Roman municipality in 59 BC, and in 48 BC. a colony of Roman citizens. After the fall of the Roman Empire in the early 7th century, it was the capital of the Byzantine province of Dalmatia. At the beginning of the 9th century it was occupied by the Franks and in 812 it was returned to Byzantium.

Zara was under the Republic of Venice between 1111-1154, then between 1160-1183 and in 1202. It then passed to the kingdom of Hungary-Croatia, and then under that of Ladislaus of Naples, who in 1409 sold Zara to Venice. When the Turks conquered the area around Zara at the beginning of the 16th century, the city became an important military, commercial and administrative outpost of Venice in the Adriatic, it was the administrative capital of Venetian Dalmatia and an important cultural centre.

After the fall of Venice (1797) with the treaty of Campoformio, Zara was ceded to Austria and remained under Austrian rule until 1918, except for the period of French occupation (1805-1813). During all this time Zara remained the capital of Dalmatia.

At the end of the First World War, on 4 November 1918, the city was occupied by Italian troops. After the war, with the treaty of Rapallo (1920), Zara was ceded to Italy. The city remained under Italian administration until 31 October 1944, was then occupied by Tito’s partisans and then ceded to Yugoslavia. During the Second World War Zara / Zadar was bombed 54 times by the Allied air forces and more than 90% of its inhabitants left the city for Italy.

What to see in Zadar.


This article is also available in: Italian

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