ROME VS. VENICE | Explore roman and venetian heritage in Zadar




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This 90-100 min walking tour introduces you to 2 big governments that determined the shape and appearance of Zadar today. Roman Empire and Venetian Republic. Their architecture, legacy and heritage outlived almost everything in this town. Roman heritage in Zadar will astonish you with its endurance and Venetian with firmness.
But don’t think for a minute that we’ll skip other very important facts and living proofs of other Kingdoms, Unions, Monarchies and their governments. Thus history has its own course and it has to be told truthfully and chronologically.

When someone talks about Roman heritage in Croatia it is a fatal mistake not to mention Zadar as one of the biggest centers the Old Rome built on this side of the Adriatic coast.


Romans established the first urban city in Zadar after their slow and gradual conquest of this region during the mid 2nd century B.C. At that time, Liburnians (Liburni), an Illyrian tribe, inhabited the whole region. They were excellent sailors who nourished a very successful commercial and maritime civilization. In the 7th and 6th century B.C., Zadar was a very important center of Liburni tribes. In 1st century B.C., Julius Caesar conquered the Illyricum and started the colonization of this area.

Roman heritage in Zadar is visible today almost everywhere in the city. That’s why it deserves a special place in every presentation of this town.
If we observe the city from the perspective of architecture, preserved monuments and the overall inherited image after the Romans, then, we must say that Venetian Republic isn’t far behind, at all. On the contrary, Venetian Republic is responsible for achieving the status of a city with UNESCO heritage from July 2017.

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The tour name is Rome vs. Venice but don’t think for a moment that we’ll skip globally known Sea Organ & Greeting to the Sun! You can enjoy the view and music at these popular public space installations called Sea Organ (Morske Orgulje) & Greeting to the Sun (Pozdrav Suncu).

We will pass famous Promenade ( Riva ) admiring the view of Zadar Channel, islands of Ugljan and Pašman and the open sea to the northwest. Admire the symbol of Zadar, the church of St. Donat and look at the same time at the Belfry of the Romanesque Cathedral of St. Anastasia while standing on a 1st century B.C. Forum surrounded by roman architecture.

From this point on the tour is concentrated more on Roman heritage in Zadar because we will be standing in the middle of Colonia Iulia Iader.

Once we pass the Forum, its adjacent buildings and remains of roman architecture we will take a glance at the Church and convent of St. Mary. Here the benedictine nuns kept for centuries Zadar’s most precious relics.

Surrounding the Cathedral we will get to the other side of the city that overlooks the port of Jazine. Here you will have a better look on what used to represent Zadar during the time of Venetian Republic. Follow famous gates that opened the city to the port. You will see a 3 well square and a very interesting fortification that used to be called Kaštel.

Remains of Kaštel stand today as a witness of a very rebellious nature of citizens of Zadar. They were rebellious to that extent that Venice had to build a special fortification against them. Kaštel served as a shelter resort for Venetian soldiers in case the citizens decide to attack them.


Like in Zadar City Tour 90 and Zadar City Tour 120 we will visit almost the same places and areas of Zadar with one big difference. The amount of time dedicated to Roman or Venetian period, in comparison to the amount of time dedicated to other governments and their heritage, will of course be bigger .

It is very important for you to acknowledge that this tour has an accent on Roman and Venetian heritage. Which means that the tour covers almost the entire ring of Venetian fortification system.

Therefore you are expected to walk with a steady moderate step without frequent and repeated stops unless required. The tour can be performed in several directions. The direction depends on what the weather allows us to use.

This tour introduces you to Zadar’s old town, the Peninsula. Approx. 1 km x 500 m. Covers the area from Sea Organ to the port of Foša where the huge Land Gate triumphal arch closes the old core and represents the ‘grand finale’, a sort of a tribute to Venetian Republic and its monuments in the city.

The tour is offered only as a private tour so please contact the provider to check the availability and prices for your group.


Foša/Land gate (Kopnena vrata), side with the bikes – Click here for location and instructions. Look for a guide with ZADAR CITY TOUR badge/umbrella/T-shirt. Please present yourself at the location 5 minutes before the departure time. Payment on sight in cash with EURO (€) or contact the provider for more information how to pay online. For more information on availability, please contact the provider at least 40 minutes before the tour starts. Text us through WhatsApp button or by e-mail.


Special discounts for groups upon previous request.

Please note | Zadar City Tour

We walk 90-100 min rain or shine no matter what. Dress accordingly, bring an umbrella or a raincoat if needed. Please present yourself at the location 5 min before the departure time. Payment on sight in cash with EURO (€) or contact the provider for more information how to pay online. For more information on availability, please contact the provider at least 40 minutes before the tour starts. Text us through WhatsApp button or by e-mail.


Can’t make it? Please notify us at least 1 hour before your tour starts, we would appreciate it. Thank you!

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Roman heritage in Zadar

Colonia Iulia Iader was founded in 48 B.C., probably by Julius Caesar after his victory over Pompeius. The colony was an independent municipium inhabited by Roman veterans rewarded also with land close to the city. The city, then and now, belongs to the group of cities that follows the principles of Roman urban planning.

Roman Zadar was a very admirable city, full of architecture that symbolizes fine Roman urban life. Therefore we have to mention what it used to stand on the premises even though we can’t see it today.

Nevertheless, if we talk about modern or Venetian Zadar, we are obliged to mention that Roman heritage in Zadar determined some shapes and squares in the city. Above all, it lies, still today, 1,50 m below the ground, under coats and coats of medieval constructions. Generally, this is probably the case in all the ex roman colonies that belong to the Roman heritage in Croatia.

Public baths thermae, an amphitheater and a monumental city gate in the form of a triumphal arch are just some of the signs of a highly developed urban life.

During the centuries the city changed. Some old places lost their primary roles and afterwards they got some new roles. On the other hand, some new places started to play a more important role. New arrivals, better known as Middle age, changed everything.


This tour follows the life of Zadar from the very beginning of Roman Empire and its first August. That was Octavian who ruled during the 1st century B.C and 1st century A.C. Roman heritage in Zadar was in fact being built during that time including the 2nd and 3rd century A.C.
Even though an earthquake of a devastating effect hit the city in the 5th century A.C., roman architecture surprisingly didn’t vanish and so didn’t the city. Luckily, long after the Empire started to collapse, people recognized the value of roman material. For centuries after the big Empire stopped existing, they used to install roman ruins into newly built buildings of all kinds and purposes like churches, residential palaces, warehouses, gates, ports, squares etc.


Unfortunately, thanks to the 2nd World War bombings and 65 % devastation of Zadar, archaeologists managed to determine the shape, age and dimensions of roman architecture on the peninsula. The new government decided to remove the ruins instead of reconstructing them. This wasn’t the case with other locations with Roman heritage in Croatia.

Zadar will always remember the 2nd WW destruction. The archaeological findings that are so nicely displayed today in the middle of Zadar, they stand there thanks to removal of entire demolished buildings. Such as residential houses that used to form entire neighborhoods, squares with lovely fountains, closed courtyards etc.

For centuries Greek and Roman architecture was considered almost as a relic. That’s why it’s not a big surprise that even a rich and strong Venetian Republic recognized Roman heritage in Croatia, and worldwide, as a role model too.

Venetian Republic in Zadar

The government of Venetian Republic started officially in 1409 and lasted until 1797. Almost 400 years of Venetian government in Zadar is a long time. Therefore we should value and present the Venetian legacy with the same attention as the Roman heritage in Croatia.

Moreover, today after this city survived a lot. After Ottoman Empire invasion in the surrounding area, 2 world wars and 1 homeland war, we must say that Venetians really did their homework in building a fortification system. Thanks to strong, thick and clever fortification system, resistant to heavy artillery, Zadar survived danger and constant threat from the hinterland occupied by Ottomans.

Finally, if Austrians didn’t demolish parts of the walls in order to improve health conditions in the city, Zadar would have today, an intact ring of medieval walls. However, Austrians did demolish some parts but in the other hand, they certainly satisfied the needs of this town. They brought green areas and public parks to the city.


Today some of the most beautiful areas of Zadar are Venetian fortification system with parks, squares and towers all from different parts of the history. This city is a beautiful blend of styles and makeovers. Every upcoming century and architectural style brought some new shapes and elements to the existing structure.

Roman heritage in Zadar was a steady base for all new architectural innovations, politics and governments. That was the case with Venetian Republic too.

As already mentioned, Zadar achieved an UNESCO status in July 2017 thanks to Venetian fortification system. Venice built a 3 km long defensive system during the 16th century all around Zadar peninsula in order to protect the city from Turkish occupation. UNESCO confirmed that this town owns a huge treasury of archaeological sites and historical monuments from ancient times.

Roman time, Middle Age and Renaissance, a perfect blend and a reason why should you join us in this tour!

Whether you want to discover ancient Zadar or take a picture in front of the Sea Organ, Zadar City Tour has something for you.

Demand is high, and tours fill quickly, so book your ‘seat’ in the front row immediately!


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