Zadar – 21 September 2016 World Peace Day = Zadar

Zadar – 21 September 2016 World Peace Day = Zadar

World peace day in Zadar. Last night Zoe and I stood out by the Sea Organ and the water front of Zadar.  We handed out the poem 100 Flowers of Peace. We watched the sunset over the Adriatic. Our quiet meditation on Peace.

Zadar 21 September

We were expecting to be overwhelmed with this architectural beauty of ancient Roman, Byzantium, and this rich mix of history. Unfortunately, most of downtown Zadar had been destroyed by bombs from the Allied troops. The forum next to the Byzantine church St. Donnatus.

Zadar has a subtly different look to those of its Dalmatian neighbours. Although it is more ancient than Split, and just as rich in medieval heritage as Šibenik, central Zadar represents a far more complex meeting of old and new, with Roman-era fragments and Romanesque churches rubbing shoulders with blocks of flats, sleek cafés, and ultra-contemporary architectural installations such as the Sea Organ and the Greeting to the Sun. 

The reasons for this architectural mix-up rests largely on the fact that Zadar was subjected to serious bombing raids by the allies in World War II, leaving the huge kind of holes in the urban fabric of the Old Town that had to be filled by post-war planners.

Of all Croatia’s Adriatic cities, Zadar was the one that suffered most in terms of destruction and depopulation during the war, and the generations that rebuilt the city in the Fifties and Sixties were genuine urban pioneers. Maybe it’s because of Zadar’s post-war experience of being a city on the architectural frontier that makes it such a forward-looking and innovative place today.
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I am left with a sense of bafflement of why this has generated so much buzz. The Byzantium with the base of the building make from fragments of Roman temples. There is no art or sense of design, simply chunks of Roman columns as base for walls.

St. Donatus Chuch:

“Dating from the beginning of the 9th century, this unusual circular Byzantine-style church was named after the bishop who commissioned it. As one of only a handful of buildings from the early Croatian kingdom to have survived the Mongol invasion of the 13th century, it’s a particularly important cultural relic. The simple and unadorned interior includes two complete Roman columns, recycled from the Forum. Also from the Forum are the paving slabs that were revealed after the original floor was removed.”  Lonely Planet.  It is bizarre to see this Byzantine Church with chunks of columns and pediments thrown into the base.  There is a sense of sadness in seeing the genius of the Roman Empire and 8 centuries later this brutish Byzantium church. All the decorations and plaster had been stripped away. Zadar is a monument to the waste of war. So little of this city remains is truly archeologically interesting. Fragments of the Roman forum, the base of a church that was destroyed in the Middle Ages, and the city is an accumulation of all the invasions, the destruction by the Venetians, and the bombings of the Allied troops in WWII, and the stasis of the Yugoslavian government.  After being in the older and more intact medieval city of Kodar in Montenegro, the city of Zadar pales. It seems more like a large European outdoor shopping mall. Some of the older chapels are there now converted into small museums or artisan spaces.

What is the most exciting part of Zadar is the Sea Organ a series of pipes under the water. I thought it was a real natural effect; nevertheless, it was like listening to whales. Charming. Listening to the sounds of waves as music at sunset. We sat on the wall, chatting with people as they came by. One man from Afghanistan with his wife from Poland and their lovely 3 year old daughter Sophia. We chatted for a bit. His parents were killed in the war.  He is a nursing student in England. He spoke Dari, the Persian spoken in Afghanistan.  There was a moment of peace in our conversation.

Away from the downtown, we spend a quiet morning, and enjoy discovering Zadar

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