Zadar Market throughout history

The City Market on the Peninsula, together with the Fish Market, has long been one of the inevitable hallmarks of Zadar's urban identity. On the one hand, its roots go back deep into history all the way to the Roman Forum, and on the other hand it appears as a forerunner of today's social networks and as their competitor, a place where information is being transmitted and liked daily, and where a kind of collective Zadar memory is being formed.

As at the Four Corners (Četiri kantuna), so at the Market one can sense that what makes a city are not its buildings, but its citizens. Otherwise, some of the well-known characters from that area would have already ended up in literature. In 2007, Slavko Govorčin published the entire Libar (Book) about Žmak, once a popular (re)seller at the Fish Market, and Drago Marić, in 2019, included the no less popular Vuka, "the guardian of the tidiest Zadar public toilet", in his “Memorabilia About the City and the Hinterland, Its People and Events”.

But what Ante Brkan, the great Zadar and world master of photography, recorded with his camera at the Zadar Market, from 1953 to 1981, is a real ode to this cult city space. In 2009, it was enough to exhibit only 46 photos, and see how Brkan insisted on "a deeper, hidden meaning" and how the "documentary eloquence of his newspaper photography (…) encourages a whole range of verbal associations. From those about the passage of time and its changes, to those about people and the ritual way of trading. City storytellers will be particularly convincingly reminded that Josip Budak, M.Arch. managed to organize a modest urban space from a pile of ruins".


Zadarske pile


Pierre Bauron


Obala sv. Roka



Yes, that Market (together with the Fish Market) changed its appearance in the early 1980s. But not its spirit! It has preserved and nurtured it ever since the Middle Ages, when it began to form its character in the area of the former Roman Forum, the then Kampa, and later the Green Square (more precisely the Market Square, Piazza dell´erbe). At the time of the Venetian administration, the city markets were to be found in four different locations. Produce from Ravni Kotari was sold at today’s People’s Square: grains and cereal, hay, firewood, leather, butter and cheese. All of this was later moved to Varoš, where a new lodge called Pile was constructed. The Kampa marketplace offered fish (later on the New Seafront) and produce from the islands: wild cabbage and poultry. Also, the produce was sold in front of St Chrysogonus’ Church and St John’s Church in Varoš.

The main Zadar marketplace was the one at Kampa, also known as the Green Square. The unmistakable charm of this space, its colourful palaces, labyrinths of romantic entries, the picturesque main entrance from the pier on the New Coast across the Laurana Square, all had been depositing for centuries and had gradually crystallized into exceptional urban beauty. Pierre Bauron, a Parisian travel writer was absolutely delighted in 1888: "What tumult and colour. A language confusion dominates the square. People are buying and selling in all possible dialects."


Ribarnica na zapadnom kraju Nove obale


Kapela sv. Roka


Zeleni trg


Zeleni trg


Gradska tržnica







Unfortunately, the catastrophic Anglo-American bombing of Zadar in the Second World War completely wiped out Kampa and all around it. The market had moved temporarily to Five Wells Square, until the architect, Mr Josip Budak, adapted today’s marketplace in 1952. The city fish market used to be located on the New Coast and Kampa, and for a short time in the current Customs Administration building. By the early 1980s it was located in the area of ​​the unfinished Church of St Roko, after which it moved to the new fish market building in 1982, where it is still located. Significant remains of Zadar's urbanism protect the spirit of the Market. We can still see the location of the Church of St Mary the Great destroyed in 1570, the Chapel of St Roko and the façade of the unfinished Church of St Simeon from 1600, and on the other side the embattled fence wall of the Romanesque Pasini Palace.







All things considered, Ante Perković was able to say in his 2006 publication "Do you love Zadar?" that "a more colorful, richer, livelier and healthier market than the Zadar one is hard to find close by" and that pensioners feel the need "to base their social lives of their silver years right here at the marketplace!"

We would hereby like to thank the head of the Art Gallery, Ms Nevena Štokić, Mr Abdulah Seferović, Mr Edi Magazin and the staff of the National Museum who provided us with the photographs and texts.