Did you know that in 2017 Croatia became richer for another UNESCO-protected heritage site - the city walls of Zadar? And this is how Zadar joined the prestigious list of world’s heritage...
The period between the 16th and the 17th centuries was marked by frequent raids of Turkish conquerors into the hinterland of Zadar, who soon threatened the city itself. In those times life withdrew within the limits of the city's fortifications. Advances in warfare and the strong artillery demanded a thorough reconstruction of the city walls. So, the first half of the 16th century saw the beginning of a new system of forts and ramparts which changed the outlook of the city. Whole groups of houses, even some great and rich churches, were pulled down to make space for powerful pentagonal forts. In the course of forty years the Venetians had built such a system of forts, walls with pentagonal bastions, moats filled with seawater and new large public cisterns that Zadar became the strongest city fort in the whole Venetian Republic, protecting not only the Venetian possessions in Dalmatia, but also the approaches to Venice itself. All of these now fall under UNESCO protection.
In case you wonder why the Venetians did all this, here is why: during the first half of the 15th century, the Venetian power spread to all Dalmatia, except for the Republic of Dubrovnik. At the time, Zadar was the capital of Dalmatia. As the most important city on the eastern Adriatic coast, it became the centre of Venetian administration in Dalmatia and later the seat of the Venetian governor. Zadar was also the main port as well as the largest Venetian military outpost on the eastern Adriatic coast.
However, in the second half of the 19th century Zadar lost its status as a fortress, which was soon reflected in its urban development. Pulling down the city walls and bastions on the northern side as well as the removal of the southwestern wall opened up new perspectives – the construction of a modern pier for the fast passenger ships and a splendid long city promenade which was eventually lined with a row of beautiful modern buildings.
The surviving fortifications were in 2017 inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Together with several other military masterpieces of the epoch, the city walls of Zadar were grouped under the title ''Venetian Works of Defence between 16th and 17th centuries: Stato da Terra – western Stato da Mar''.
Now when you know all about it, all you need to do is come and enjoy the walk along the Zadar city walls. Welcome!