Zadar Roman Forum - History and Facts | History Hit

Zadar Roman Forum

Zadar, Zadar County, Croatia

Zadar Roman Forum dates back as far as the 1st century BC and is an excellent example of its kind.

Peta Stamper

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Zadar Roman Forum

Zadar Roman Forum was built between the 1st century BC and the 3rd century AD and would have been the centre of everyday life in Roman Zadar. Located on the Adriatic Sea, Zadar is the oldest continuously inhabited Croatian city.

Zadar Roman Forum history

Under Julius Caesar, parts of Croatia became part of the expanding Roman Empire. In 48 BC, Zadar became a Roman colonia, a stronghold to keep conquered territories secure. Resultantly, Zadar acquired the features characteristic of an Ancient Roman city, including a  regular road network, a capitolium with a temple, and a forum. Zadar’s impressive forum was commissioned by Caesar’s successor and nephew, Emperor Augustus, demonstrated in two inscriptions in stone from the 3rd century, placed upon the forum’s completion.

The Roman Forum in Zadar was the figurative and physical centre of public life, modelled on the Forum in Rome. The Zadar Roman Forum was no exception: located at the intersection of the city’s north- and south-bound roads, the Kalelagra and the Simon Kožičić Benja street. In addition to functioning as a marketplace, the forum was a place for social gatherings and often held scenes of diverse activities including political discussions, debates, rendezvous and meetings.

After a violent 6th century earthquake, the buildings surrounding the Zadar Forum were levelled. Over the course of history, the medieval square had a Renaissance cistern built.

Zadar Roman Forum today

Today, after over two millenia, only the original pavement and stairs remain of the temple at the forum, as well as two monumental columns, one of which still in its original place. The column is thought to be a shame pillar, with holes to hold chains, reflecting the social significance of the forum as a site for justice. On the west side of the Capitolio, notice a plastered wall with the remains of frescoes, the celebration point of the mystic cult of Cybele, the Great Mother.

An excellent example of its kind, the Zadar Roman Forum is also still home to several monuments as well as providing a wonderful view of the famous St Donatus Church. The site is still a social spot, used to host concerts, films and other commemorative events.

Getting to Zadar Roman Forum

Zadar is reached by car on the 424; free parking can be found a 15 minute walk away on Ravnice. Zadar Bus Terminal is a 25 minute walk, from which you can hire bicycles from nextbike.

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