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Zadarska zupanija

Zadar County, or Zadarska Zupanija, is found in the southern part of the county on the shores of the Adriatic Sea. The county borders Šibenik-Knin, Primorje-Gorski Kotar, and Lika-Senj County while also contributing to the state border with Bosnia and Herzegovina in the east. Additionally, a considerable number of islands contribute to the county's territory.[4] The capital city, Zadar, is found in the western part of the region, with a history dating back to ancient times. Reportedly Zadar is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Croatia. Thus, several cultural and historical landmarks can be observed in the city, namely the UNESCO-protected fortified city of Zadar as part of Venetian Works of Defence between the 16th and 17th centuries: Stato da Terra - Western Stato da Mar.[12] Another destination, not only for sightseeing but also for swimming and recreation, is Nin Riviera, featuring a number of beaches in its vicinity.[9] Zadar County's borders are geographically marked by Cres-Lošinj, Kornati, Žut-Sit, Murter island groups, and the Dinaric mountain range.[4] Natural protected areas, such as Paklenica National Park or Telašćica Nature Park, also contribute to the county's territory.[2] In terms of local climatic conditions, the city of Zadar features a borderline humid subtropical and Mediterranean climate with mild winters and warm summers.[12]

What Zadarska zupanija is known for

Zadar, the capital city of the Zadarska Zupanija, is found on the county's western part, on the shores of the Adriatic Sea. In the city, people can visit the Sea Organ, an architectural project that uses the mechanical power of waves to create music. The installation resembles a series of broad steps approaching the sea, where people can sit and enjoy the music created by waves. The historical symbol of Zadar is the Church of St. Donatus, constructed in the 9th century. Today, it is the most extensive pre-Romanesque church in Croatia. Kalelarga is a historic street in the Old Town of Zadar, possibly older than the city itself. Stretching in an east-west direction, it follows the path of the ancient Roman street, Decumanus Maximus. The street presently serves as a gathering place for various processions and celebrations. Walking along Kalelarga, visitors can observe local shops, cafes, and historical buildings that reflect the city's heritage. [8]

Another destination in Zadar is the Five Wells Square which received its name from the five lined-up wells constructed during the siege by the Turks in the 16th century. Beyond the wells, the square now features the oldest park in Croatia. Furthermore, the Episcopal Complex of Zadar encompasses an array of historical and religious buildings. Among them are the Roman Forum, the Cathedral of St. Anastasia, the Archbishop's Palace, the Church of St. Donatus, the Zmajević Seminary, and the Orthodox Church of St. Elias, to name a few, with each structure showcasing various architectural styles. Zadar also features the Museum of Ancient Glass where people can learn more about the city's history of glass-making, displaying several preserved glass objects from ancient times. Moreover, on the city's outskirts, there's Marina Dalmacija, the most extensive marina in Croatia.[8] 

Another destination in Zadar County is Nin Riviera, whose symbol is the Church of St. Nicholas, holding significance for Croatian reigning dynasties. The 12th-century Pre-Romanesque church, with its fortress-like appearance, was constructed in the late 11th century. According to legend, seven Croatian Kings were crowned in Nin, and each would ride to the church with their entourage. Nin is also known for its salt production, which has occurred in the city since Roman times. Every year, around 100,000 visitors come to learn about the local traditional salt production methods and explore an array of salt products. Nevertheless, Nin is also a destination for sea and beach recreation visitors. For instance, Queen's Beach offers therapeutic retreats with mud treatments and healing pools. Nearby beaches such as Vir, Privlaka, and Vrsi are also available to visitors.[9] 

With several nature-protected areas, Zadarska Zupanija also attracts visitors seeking outdoor activities. Reportedly, hiking is the preferred way to explore one of the region's national parks, Paklenica. Paklenica offers 150 to 200 kilometers of trails, ranging from tourist paths to hiking trails that lead to Velebit Mountain's highest peaks from Velika Paklenica canyon to Manita peć cave, Lugarnica foresters house, and Paklenica Mountain hut, with the trails marked with red and white signs and direction boards indicating trail crossings.[10] Climbing is another activity available in Paklenica National Park, as it is reportedly the most visited climbing center in Croatia. With around 590 marked routes of varying difficulty and length, climbers of all levels can climb the local limestone rock formations.[11] 


Zadar County stretches across an area of 7,276.23 square kilometers along the central part of the Croatian Adriatic coast. It serves as a transportation hub, connected by state roads, highways, air travel, ferry routes, and railway connections to the rest of Croatia. The Cres-Lošinj, Kornati, Žut-Sit, and Murter Island groups border the county. At the same time, on the land side, it is surrounded by the Dinaric mountain range, including Velebit massif, Lika highlands, Plješivac, Ulica, and the northern Dalmatian plain. The region features several islands, canals, and indented coastlines, along with the fertile zone of Ravni Kotar. The county adjoins Bosnia and Herzegovina to the east, with a border length of 24 kilometers. Additionally, it has an international sea border with Italy to the west, stretching 83.43 kilometers along the coast. Of the total area, Zadar County accounts for 8.3% of Croatia's total land area, while the remaining 3,632.9 square kilometers is the sea territory, representing 11.6% of the country's maritime domain.[4]

Several natural protected areas can be found in Zadarska Zupanija territory, one of which is the Paklenica National Park. In 1949, the local natural features, forests, and geomorphologic structures of Velika and Mala Paklenica led to the area being designated as a national park. Its primary purpose was to protect the most extensive forest complex in Dalmatia, which was reportedly at risk of overexploitation. Paklenica National Park covers 95 square kilometers and includes the highest peaks of the Velebit Mountain - Vaganski Vrh and Sveto Brdo. Additionally, the park features vertical canyons carved into the southern slopes of Velebit, with various geomorphological formations and diverse flora and fauna. Some of the autochthonous forests protected by the national park include beech and black pine forests.[5] 

For those who hope to enjoy maritime fauna and flora, visitors to Zadar County can venture to Nature Park Telašćica, situated on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea, within the island of Dugi Otok. The area of Telašćica Bay became a designated Nature Park due to its biodiversity and geological significance. A number of beaches, cliffs, Aleppo pine, and holm oak forests alongside barren karst terrain are among the landscapes in the nature park. However, the three predominant attractions are reportedly Telašćica Bay, the cliffs of Dugi Otok, and the therapeutic salt lake "Mir." Additionally, the park boasts Mediterranean flora and over 300 plant and animal species underwater.[6]

Regarding local climate and weather conditions, the warmest month in Zadar is typically August, with an average daily temperature of 29°C. Reportedly, January is the coldest month, as temperatures average a high of 8°C. July tends to be the driest month in Zadar because it generally receives 52 millimeters of rainfall on average. The most precipitation falls during November, with an average of about 146 millimeters.[7]


Zadar, the capital city of Zadarska Zupanija—an ancient town on a peninsula—has a history dating back to the 9th century BCE as Jadera, a Liburnian settlement, that later became a Roman town in the 1st century BCE. Despite facing invasions, it flourished as a cultural and artistic center during Byzantine times. Wars with Venice occurred from 1045 to 1358, and in 1409, Zadar was sold to Venice, leading to periods of oppression by both Venetians and Turks. However, the city withstood a Turkish attack in 1571 and had heavily fortified defenses. Later ruled by Austria, then Italy, Zadar suffered destruction during World War II but was eventually liberated and became part of Yugoslavia.[1]

In terms of the history of the county as a whole, Zadar County played a central role in the formation of the Croatian state. It holds the oldest mention of a Croatian name, with the state's significant royal cities being located there. The fertile areas of Ravni Kotar, Velebit, Lika, Krbava, and Pounje allowed a complementary Mediterranean-continental economy and livestock movements. However, the region's significance declined with the disappearance of the independent Croatian state. In the 16th century, it came under the Venetian Republic's control, while the interior faced constant war devastation. Later, it became part of the Habsburg Monarchy, experiencing stable development due to Zadar's influence as the seat of the Province of Dalmatia.[2]

The Zadar islands also hold historical heritage, featuring old forts like Kaštelina on Vir, Sveti Mihovil on Ugljan, and Toreta Tower on Silba. One of Croatia's most notable lighthouses, Veli Rat on Dugi Otok, is also found there. Caska, situated on Pag, with only a few houses on Caska Bay today, holds considerable history as an underwater Roman city from the 4th century lies on its seabed. Historians suggest it sank due to an earthquake, while others believe it was abandoned and submerged over the centuries due to rising sea levels. The summer house of the esteemed Roman family Calpurnia further emphasizes the area's significance.[3]