facebook icon instagram logo youtube icon
menu icon
Photo credit to: Tim Ertl

Zadar cultural gems volume 2

calendar iconJul 17, 2023

Much like hidden treasures stashed away in a pirate’s chest, sprinkled across the azure canvas of the Croatian Adriatic sea, lay the lesser-known secrets of the Zadar archipelago. These ethereal jewels, each possessing its own distinct charm and story, create a magnetic allure for those with an undying passion for discovery.

First on our list is the enchanting tale of Lavdara, nestled between Dugi Otok island and Kornati National Park, which serves as an embodiment of the rich, unadulterated beauty and history of the islands around Zadar harbour.

Lavdara’s Rich History

Usually, travellers have a chance to witness Lavdara on the way to Kornati National Park and Telaščica Nature Park, on a speedboat tour with Zadar Archipelago. If you ask your local tour guide about this islet, you will learn that it what was once a bustling ‘Kamenolom’ or stone quarry, with every shard narrating a tale from time immemorial.

The island’s stone, the very skeleton of its existence, has not only shaped its rugged topography but also its vibrant cultural past. Walk amidst the remnants of the spectral echoes of the Roman empire that still whisper tales of yore, illuminating an era when Lavdara, Kornat, and Dugi Otok, stood unified, as one entity under the expansive Roman reign.


The stone from the quarry was used to build arenas and amphitheatres all across the vast Roman Empire, making this part of the Croatian Adriatic Sea a beehive of masonic activity.

While history beckons you to journey into the past, Lavdara’s geographical marvels urge you to contemplate the transience of time and its effect on our planet. ‘Proversi’ with the vestiges of a Roman villa, now partly submerged, remind us of a time, 2,000 years past, when the sea level stood approximately 2 meters lower. In light of global warming and rising sea levels, these serve as a sobering reminder of the profound impact of human activity on our planet.

The Zadar’s Đigi: A Historical Protection Against the Waves

The Đigi is a compelling emblem of Zadar’s maritime legacy, symbolizing the harmonious co-existence between human innovation and nature’s formidable power. The grandeur of the Đigi and the tales it embraces is a reminder of the cultural crosscurrents that have shaped Zadar.

This resilient breakwater, steadfast against the Adriatic’s caprices, is a beacon of the enduring spirit of the city and its people. It speaks of a time when maritime trade thrived, and unique practices ensured the preservation of vital infrastructure, inspiring us to adopt a more sustainable approach to architectural development.

Zadar Riva
The Zadar sea promenade is a fantastic place for a walk

The Zadar’s Đigi breakwater is more than an architectural marvel. It is a testament to the locals of Zadar and their age-old battle against the ravages of the sea, an embodiment of resilience and survival. The origins of this meticulously built breakwater stretch back to the Roman era, demonstrating an ingenious solution for ensuring the safety of their harbour.

In a testament to human resourcefulness, this maritime structure was maintained and reinforced by a unique toll. Each incoming vessel to the Zadar port was mandated to contribute two large stones. These stones, interwoven into the fabric of the Đigi, became vital in its preservation against the relentless Adriatic waves. This archaic practice, although faded into history, underscores the inventiveness of the ancient seafarers and their understanding of environmental sustainability.

Zadar’s Barkajoli: The Silent Navigators

The Barkajoli of Zadar are more than mere boatmen; they are the keepers of an age-old maritime tradition. For centuries, these intrepid navigators have plied the short but vital route from the Đigi to the city. In their modest boats, they weave through the waters with an intimacy born of generations of seafaring. Each stroke of their oar echoes the rhythms of the sea and the pulse of Zadar itself.

The role of the Barkajoli extends beyond ferrying passengers. They are the silent storytellers of Zadar, their tales swirling with the ebb and flow of the Adriatic waves. Stepping onto one of these boats is stepping into history, as the city unfolds before you through Barkajoli’s lens. The journey not only offers panoramic views of Zadar’s historic skyline but also a deeper understanding of the city’s inseparable bond with the sea.

Zadar barkarjoli

You can experience this timeless tradition for yourself. When visiting Zadar, keep an eye out for a boatman near the city port commission, not far from the offices of Zadar Archipelago boat tours, where you can book an excursion to one of a dozen islands in the greater maritime region of Zadar.

He is easily spottable, due to the colourful wooden boat and his traditional garments. For a small fee, he will transport you and your friends across the narrow channel, that separates the Zadar Old Core peninsula from the mainland. This will significantly cut your walking time, leaving you more free to explore the historic monuments of the old city.

Mana Island: Where Nature Meets Cinema

Mana Island captures the ephemeral dance between natural spectacle and cinematic magic. Its untamed landscapes have served as a canvas for cinematic visions, with its rugged cliffs, serene waters, and dynamic underwater world providing the perfect backdrop for epic narratives.

This captivating interplay has transformed Mana into an organic movie set, redefining our perception of cinematic spaces. Yet, the island’s allure doesn’t end at its cinematic appeal. It is also an island of adventure, offering a tantalizing cocktail of adrenaline-inducing experiences and natural beauty. Mana is the embodiment of the Zadar archipelago’s enchanting charm, reminding us of the joy of discovery that underpins every travel expedition.

Mana, the unsung star of the Zadar archipelago, waits for those willing to stray from the beaten path. With its sheer cliffs challenging even the bravest jumpers and underwater landscapes beckoning archaeology enthusiasts, Mana is a playground for adventure seekers.

Mana island

The island’s alluring charm hides rugged landscapes, jagged cliffs, and shimmering waters that have captured the imagination of filmmakers, transforming it into an open-air cinema set. This gem of the Zadar archipelago stands as a living testament to the enthralling spectacle that is nature’s cinema, compelling us to become a part of its extraordinary script.

You too can become part of the Mana story, if you book a private speedboat tour with Zadar Archipelago boat excursions. Our local tour guides will introduce you to every part of this secretive isle, and you can be sure that every photo taken will be a visual marvel, and the memories you will take from this place will last a lifetime.

Explore Zadar cultural gems with Zadar Archipelago speedboat tours

The secrets of the Zadar archipelago, each a hidden gem, offering an experience of knowledge and discovery, brimming with historical richness, natural wonders, and untold stories waiting to unfold. As we journey through the cultural legacy of Zadar, we not only explore their mysteries but also reflect on our relationship with nature and history, gaining a renewed sense of appreciation for our beautiful, ever-evolving planet.

from 94 €

National Park Kornati Islands Boat Tour

from 86 €

Zadar to Sakarun Beach Boat Tour & Shipwreck

from 80 €

Molat & Ugljan Boat Tour: Best Zadar Islands

from 140 €

Kornati Islands & Telašćica Boat Tour

from 132 €

Dugi Otok Boat Tour: Ultimate Boat Adventure

from 126 €

Silba, Olib & Ist Boat Tour 3 Islands & 6 Unique Spots

barkajoliculture in zadarLavdara islandMana islandzadarZadar Archipelago boat excursionsZadar Archipelago boat toursZadar Archipelago speedboat tourszadar barkajolizadar cultural gemszadar culturezadar đigi