As such the narrow streets that snake their way through the tiny peninsula on which the city stands are steeped in history, including ancient city walls, a Roman forum, a plethora of churches and the oldest university in Croatia. Indeed, Zadar has the feel of a university town, especially when the sun shines and the students take to the many bars for a spot of exam revision.
Sadly, the city has also been raised to the ground on several occasions. Dubbed the Dresden of Croatia, most of the city was destroyed by a heavy allied bombing campaign in World War II when the city was under Mussolini’s domain. However, much of the old city has been painstakingly restored and strict planning rules exist to prevent the construction of unsympathetic buildings as occurred in the Soviet era – so some buildings on the peninsula lack air-conditioning – although the odd concrete carbuncle has managed to slip through the net.
In recent years, the city has become more famed for its modern architecture. At the far end of the peninsula, a crowd gathers for the most fantastic sunset – the film director Sir Alfred Hitchcock, perhaps with a touch of his trademark deadpan flamboyance, claimed this to be the best in the world. Here the Croatian architect Nikola Bašić created the Sea Organ in 2005 by drilling some holes in the promenade which he connected to a series of sub-nautical pipes. As the mix of seawater and air flows through them it produces a relaxing, monotonous bass noise not dissimilar to that created by whales. Each time a tourist boat catches the pipes in its wake, the sound becomes distorted as if the vessel’s captain is conducting an aquatic orchestra.