Brief Travel Through
Zadar History

Believe it or not, Zadar history is over three thousand years long. From the rule of of the Romans, Byzantines, Venetian, Austrian, Napoleon, destroyed several times, Zadar always had the strength to rise like a phoenix changing into an even more splendid place.

Throughout centuries, as the rulers of Zadar came and went, the name of the town had changed several times, but it remained similar to its initial form, Jader.

The name of Zadar was mentioned for the first time in the 4th century BC as a settlement of the Illyrian tribe  Liburnians, under the name of Iader or Iadera.

Iadera (the ancient name of Zadar) was first mentioned about 2500 years ago, according the records found in the Greek Faros (Hvar today). Throughout the history, the town had changed its name many times, from Idassa (Greek source), Jadera (Roman source), Diadora, Zara (during Venetian rule and later Italian) up to today's name Zadar.

Important Dates Through Zadar History

Church of St. Donatus
  • 4th Century B.C. - Zadar appeared for the first time in history in the 4th century B.C. as a settlement of the Illyrian tribe of Liburnians – named Jader.
  • In  59 B.C. - Zadar become Roman municipium and in 48 BC, Roman colonia (colony), changing name in Iadera. It was founded by Julius Caesar. During Roman rule Zadar acquired the character of the city with a regular road network, with a main square - forum (Zadar forum), even today the symbol of the city.
  • In 476 A.D - After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Zadar in 614 A.D become the capital of the Byzantine district of Dalmatia.
  • 10th Century - It was a short period when Zadar was reigned by first Croatian rulers, as a part of Kingdom of Croatia (925–1102).
  • In 1202 - Zadar was conquered and burned by Venetian Republic, supported  by Crusaders during the religious wars endorsed by the Latin Church between the 11th and 16th centuries.
  • In 1358  -  The city became a part of Croatian-Hungarian king Louis I (Louis the Great).
  • In 1409 - Ladislaus I of Hungary sold Zadar and his dynasty's rights to Dalmatia to Venice for 100,000 ducats on July 31, 1409.
  • The beginning of the 16th century  -  This is the beginning of the expansion of the Ottoman Empire on this territory when Turks conquered  only the Zadar's hinterland but never the town itself. 

Zadar History of 19th and 20th centuries

  • In 1797 - After the Treaty of Campo Formio, Venice was forced to give up the Zadar, which passed into the hands of Austrian dynasty.
  • From 1806 to 1813 - This was a short period when Zadar became the part of Napoleonic Kingdom of Italy.
  • Period after 1848 - This period marked the birth of the Croatian national revival and the conflict between Zadar's Italian and Croatian communities.

Period between 1918 to 1947

  • In 1915  - As a reward for entering the First World War on the side of the Triple Entente, Italy obtained territory in northern Dalmatia, including Zadar.
  • In 1918 -  As a result of the agreement between Kingdom of Italy and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes , Zadar remained under Italian control under the name of Zara.
  • On April 6, 1941  - Zadar and many other cities of Dalmatia (including Split) were invaded by Italian fascist.
  • On September 1943 - Capitulation of fascism in Italy and the entry of German troops in Zadar.
  • November 1943 to October 1944  - One of the most tragic periods of Zadar history when the town was bombed by Allies with almost 4,000 casualties and 60% of the city's buildings destroyed. Zadar has been called the 'Dresden of the Adriatic' because of similar results to the Allied bombing that city. 

Period from 1945 to 1991

  • SFR Yugoslavia (1947–1991) - During this period Zadar went through intensive reconstruction and revitalization, followed by a large increase in both population and economic power.
  • Period between 1991–1995 - The Croatian War of Independence was fought from 1991 to 1995 between Croat forces loyal to the government of Croatia, which had declared independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Another of the tragic moments in Zadar history when Zadar and its hinterland were attacked in October 1991 by Serbian rebels aimed to conquer and destroy the city and this region.

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