Of all the places we visited in Dalmatia, Zadar had something different.
One of the biggest draws of Dalmatia is its history. The region is littered with impressive Roman ruins and boasts several beautifully well-preserved old towns. And Zadar is no exception: its large old town sits on a small peninsula and you’ll find plenty of Roman relics in the main square.
But what really made Zadar stand apart from other places in Dalmatia was the Sea Organ and Sun Salutation.
A refreshing break from the somewhat monotonous historic ambiance, these contemporary art installations are pretty unique.
Designed by Zadar-native Nikola Bašić, both sights are found on the waterfront in the old town and were designed as part of the area’s renovation.
The Sea Organ consists of a series of metal tubes placed under the waterfront’s marble steps. When the water moves in and out of the tubes, it forces air out, playing music in the process.
The result is a totally unique, somewhat unpredictable, haunting melody.
Though slightly eerie, it really is a beautiful sound and the many recordings on YouTube don’t do it justice. The effect is best at night, when you can sit on the steps, look out to sea and listen to the waves gently crashing while the organ music plays. It really is lovely.
The Sun Salutation (or ‘Greeting to the Sun’) is equally as inventive. During the day, the installation stores up solar energy, which it then uses to project a light show on to what is effectively a huge dance floor close to the harbour.
It’s a really fun addition to the waterfront, which attracts plenty of people – families, couples, teens – who were all trying in vain to get the perfect selfie or Instagram post. (I was definitely one of them.)
Overall, I think Bašić can rest safe in the knowledge that his designs have been a success. Not only do both sights liven up the area and draw tourists to the waterfront, but they have also helped Zadar to stand out as a tourist destination.
Of the cities in Dalmatia we visited (including Dubrovnik, Split, and Trogir), Zadar was the only place that seemed to have embraced the new and modern in order to bring in tourism, instead of relying purely on the history it inherited. It might be simple, but for me it really stood out.
Have you been to Zadar? What did you think?