We spent 2 nights in Zadar, at the lovely Airbnb apartment just one street back from the water . We had plans to go across to the old town in the morning, in time to have a look at the food market, which is apparently one of Croatia’s best, but a thunderstorm kept us indoors for a couple of hours longer than we intended. From the time interval between the thunder and lightning, it was a close one!
The clouds cleared into a lovely afternoon, so we caught a row-boat across to the historic old town. There is also a bridge across to it, but the boat-men ply their trade just down from where we were staying. It cost us $1 each, took 5 minutes and reminded Greg that his grandfather worked as a boatman in Brightlingsea in the UK. The old town is a wonderful mix of Roman, medieval and modern, all co-existing peacefully. It was originally settled in the 9th Century BC.
We had lunch at a restaurant near the cathedral, and just around the corner from the Roman forum. One of the columns was used as a medieval Pillar of Shame, and it still has the hooks where wrongdoers were chained. There are so many Roman ruins in the old town that most of them aren’t labelled. We sat in the restaurant’s courtyard, drinking Croatian beer and eating Croatian food – octopus for me, pork for Greg. The courtyard’s walls were built of stone – Roman? Medieval? Who knows, but they looked much older than the rest of the building.
Zadar has been bombed twice in the last century – by the Allies in 1943, then again during the ‘Homeland War’ in late 1991. Each time, it has been rebuilt, and now there are no signs of any damage.
Then further down the coast to Trogir, another historic town whose Cathedral gained World Heritage status in 1997. The old town is set on a tiny island, and we’re staying in another Airbnb apartment on Ciovo Island, which is also part of Trogir. Once again, we’re just one street back from the water, and we can see across to the bell tower of the cathedral. The apartment is one of 3 in a newly removated 200 year old stone house which belonged to the owner’s great-grandparents. The ‘streets’ here are so narrow that we have had to park the car 150 metres away, just off the main street.
We walked across the bridge to the old town yesterday afternoon and had a good wander around, getting lost a few times and ending up in private courtyards. Trogir has been my favourite Croatian town, a beautifully preserved mixture of Roman and Renaissance architecture which is all still in use, not just as museum pieces but as housing, shops, restaurants, for worship and other parts of daily life.
More pictures here