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Legends And Stories About Zadar

Legendary - one of the words you want to hear yourself saying a lot when on holiday and afterwards when bragging about the awesome holiday you had. Zadar is one of those cities that has it all for a modern traveller. Reading about legends and stories about the city might help you understand even more how and why it’s such a remarkable place. Here is a selection of historical curiosities, legends and beliefs. 

It’s written in the … name

Throughout history the name of the city changed, or better say, adapted to new languages that came and went with the rulers of Zadar. One of the oldest ones, Jadera,  seems to have been related to the Latin expression iam erat (‘already existing’) according to Constantine Porphyrogenitus of the 10th century - well, all roads may have led to Rome at the time, but Zadar had already stood there a while when the Romans arrived according to his theory. Be that as it may and regardless of its antiquity, the city today is regarded as a true gift by both its people and visitors. Incidentally (Cro.) za dar means ‘as a present’.   

It takes not two, but four

Battered over the centuries of its existence, Zadar has always managed to rise from the ashes and shine again. Not surprisingly, four is the number of patron saints that watch over the city: a Christian saint and martyr St Anastasia whose relics lie in the Zadar Cathedral, St Chrysogonus represented in the city’s coat of arms and venerated as the one who saved the city from the plague and is responsible for many other miracles, St Simeon whose remains are also kept in Zadar and St. Zoilo, another Christian martyr who is said to have recovered St Chrysogonus’ body from the sea.

Cross that bridge

Is the current city bridge for pedestrians the third time lucky? Only time will tell. The bridge is, namely, believed to be jinxed, since this is the third one built in the same spot in less than a hundred years. The first one lasted only 16 years and was destroyed in the World War II bombing and the second one was gone with the wind soon afterwards. Well, the third one has been there for more than fifty years. Hopefully it’s here to stay. Don’t feel like pushing your luck by crossing it? Then use the services of the city’s true legends - the barkajoli, who will take you from one end to another in their boat. As they’ve been doing for the past 800 years.

Speaking of luck …and clock

There’s a certain hunchback in Zadar that brings luck, since it’s been lucky itself. The statue used to be a part of the legendary 17th century Zadar pharmacy, which was completely destroyed in the WWII bombing. The hunchback was the only part of the former building that remained intact, so now it forms a part of the facade of the new building as a reminder of what once stood there. Not far from the corner of the Dalmatinskog Sabora street, where the hunchback is, you’ll hear the ticking of a clock. The clock on the Narodni trg (People’s square) has been (ticking) there for more than two hundred years.

Know where to take your coffee ...

Just as people of Zadar have been turning to the clock tower to set their clocks, so have they had their coffee in the same spot for centuries. On the same location buildings were erected and destroyed, but coffee continues to be served. So, sit down in the coffee bar Forum, order a cup of coffee and ponder about these legends that have made Zadar what it is today - a proud city full of (hi)stories. After all, Zadar truly is legen-dary!

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