Set atop a pretty promontory that extends into the Adriatic sea, Zadar has a compact and attractive old town of golden-hued churches and Roman ruins that sits against a stirring backdrop of dramatic limestone mountains and distant scattered islands.
The sculptures and monuments designed by Serbian architect Bogdan Bogdanović (1922–2010), who was among Yugoslavia’s most important scholars and urban planners, defy space, logic and expectations about public art. His creations, often the size of buildings and erected over a span of more than three decades from the 1950s to the late 1980s, appear as if out of nowhere. They erupt – stark, cosmic, alone – from seemingly forgotten fields. Mammoth swirls of polished concrete, steel, stone and wood rise above and loom over the countryside in this corner of Southeastern Europe and reinterpret reality in the shapes of cones, sci-fi flowers, wings, horns, fountains and columns. The pieces memorialise the region’s tumultuous 20th-century history, ethnic and religious groups, war, antifascist resistance and ideological unity. More than 20 epic works from the designer still stand across the former country, which once spanned the western half of the Balkan Peninsula and was comprised of six republics: Bosnia & Hercegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia.
With an enchanting old town idiosyncratically tucked into the ruins of a ancient Roman palace, Split is one of the jewels of Croatia’s glittering Adriatic coast. Croatia’s second largest city is also a great base for day trips to some of the most spectacular and intriguing castles, towns and islands in northern Dalmatia.