ZARA (Serbo-Croatian Zadar), the capital of Dalmatia, Austria. Pop. (1900), of town and commune, 32,506: including a garrison of 1330. Zara is situated on the Adriatic Sea, 52 m. S.E. of Trieste, and opposite the islands of Ugliano and Pasman, from which it is separated by the narrow Channel of Zara. It is the meeting-place of the provincial diet, and the seat of a Roman Catholic archbishop and an Orthodox bishop. The promontory on which it stands is separated from the mainland by a deep moat, practically making an island of the city. In 1873 the ramparts of Zara were converted into elevated ' promenades commanding extensive views to seaward and to landward. Of its four old gates one, the Porta Marina, incorporates the relics of a Roman arch, and another, the Porta di Terraferma, was designed in the 16th century by the Veronese artist Sanmichele. The chief interest of Zara lies in its churches, the most remarkable of which is the cathedral of St Anastasia, a fine Romanesque basilica, built between 1202 and 1205. The churches of St Chrysogonus and St Simeon are also in the Romanesque style, and St Mary's retains a fine Romanesque campanile of 1105. The round church of St Donatus, traditionally but erroneously said to have been erected in the 9th century on the site of a temple of Juno, is used for secular purposes. The church treasuries contain some of the finest Dalmatian metal- work; notably the silver ark or reliquary of St Simeon (1380), and the pastoral staff of Bishop Valaresso (1460). Most of the Roman remains were used in the construction of the fortifications. But two squares are embellished with lofty marble columns; a Roman tower stands on the east side of the town; and some remains of a Roman aqueduct may be seen outside the ramparts. Among the other chief buildings are the Loggia del Comune, rebuilt in 1565, and containing a public library; the old palace of the priors, now the governor's residence; and the episcopal palaces. The harbour, to the north-east of the town, is safe and spacious, and it is annually entered by about 2500 small vessels, mainly engaged in the coasting trade. Large quantities of maraschino are distilled in Zara; and the local industries include fishing, glass-blowing, and the preparation of oil, flour and wax.
In the early days of the Roman empire Zara was a flourishing Roman colony under the name of Jadera, subsequently changed to Diadora. It remained united with the eastern empire down to 998, when it sought Venetian protection. For the next four centuries it was always under Venetian or Hungarian rule, changing hands repeatedly. It was occupied by the Hungarians at the end of the 12th century, but was recaptured by the Venetians in 1202, with the aid of French crusaders on their way to Palestine. In 1409 it was finally purchased from Hungary by Venice for 100,000 ducats. In 1792 it passed into the possession of Austria. From 1809 to 1813 it belonged to France.
About 15 m. S.E. is Zara Vecchia, or Old Zara, an insignificant village on the site of Biograd, the former residence of the Croatian kings, which was destroyed during the wars between Venice and Hungary.
See Angelo Nani, Zara, e suoi Dintorni (Zara, 1878), and Notizie Storiche della Cilia di Zara, (Zara, 1883).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)