Located in front of church of st. Donatus, the heart in Zadar, you can walk this square from the Roman era. It was build from 1st century BC to 3rd century AD and it’s size is 45 by 90 meters.
Just steps away from the seafront, lies the gracious Zadar Roman Forum. Having been built between the 1st century BC and the 3rd century AD, it’s one of the oldest and most important landmarks in Zadar.
An interesting fact is that it’s the largest forum in Croatia, even larger than the one in Pula. It was a place where all public gatherings used to take place, always buzzing with people.
A good thing about it is that it’s not enclosed by gates and you don’t have to pay for a ticket to visit it. You can just walk through it and admire it from all sides whenever you want. To make your visit to the Zadar Roman Forum really count, visit the Archeological Museum just a few steps away. There’s a model of the Forum back in the old days where you can see how it originally looked.
In the order to see the Forum from above (as well as the entire Zadar layout), you can climb St. Anastasia’s Cathedral’s Bell Tower. It’s really worth a visit!
Zadar Roman Forum has got something to offer to everybody, whether you’re a history enthusiast or just a passerby looking for a place to have coffee.
That’s why, while you’re planning your trip to Zadar, we strongly recommend you put visiting Zadar Roman Forum on your to-do list.
Getting to Forum
Just a short walk away from the Zadar seafront (Riva), in the immediate vicinity of the St. Donatus Church, you can find the Zadar Roman Forum.
Given that this part of the city is a no-car zone, it’s best to park outside the Old Town walls. Ravnice is a great parking area situated nearby.
If you wish to experience all the highlights of Zadar on foot, you can reach the Forum by just following Kalelarga, the most popular street in Zadar.
Zadar Roman Forum History
As previously stated, the Zadar Roman Forum dates back to the 1st century BC. In fact, it was commissioned by Caesar's descendant, the first Roman Emperor Augustus, as evidenced by 2 stone inscriptions from the 3rd century placed after the completion of the forum.
Modeled on the Forum in Rome, they have many common characteristics, such as being built on the intersection of the city’s north and south-bound roads. In this case, Zadar Roman Forum was built on the intersection of Kalelarga and Šimun Kožićić Benje street.
Back in the day, Zadar Roman Forum was the center of public life, as well as a marketplace. You could always see all sorts of people passing by soldiers, merchants, priests, or just ordinary people on their way to negotiate the lowest grocery prices in the marketplace.
Craft shops were also located under the porch. On the west side used to be a temple dedicated to Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva. Today, only the stairs, pavement, and 2 columns are preserved, one of which is in its original place. The column that's still in its original place to this day was the "pillar of shame", used to punish criminals in the Middle Ages. In the place that used to be the Capitolium, the remains of sacrificial altars were found as well.
With the arrival of the 6th century, a violent earthquake struck Zadar and destroyed the buildings surrounding the Zadar Roman Forum. Later, in the 9th century, the Church of St. Donatus was built on the foundation of the forum.
Zadar Roman Forum today
After over two millennia of its existence, there are only remains left of what used to be the great Zadar Roman Forum. However, these remains tell one of a kind story that goes beyond what you could find in a history book.
You can find the foundations of tabernae (row of shops), the decorative pillar of shame with the chains still visible, as well as the remains of Capitolium (a temple consecrated to Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva). There’s also a wall covered in the remains of frescoes which used to be a celebration point to the mystic cult of Cybele.
Even today, the Zadar Roman Forum hasn’t lost its significance. It’s one of tourists’ favorite places to visit, as well as a site that hosts many concerts, films, and similar events.
In the future, it will continue to be a monument of Zadar's glorious history, and an inspiration for an even more thrilling future.
So if you find yourself in Zadar, visit Zadar Roman Forum and listen to the story it tells.