From the High Middle Ages through the 20th century, the Ducal Palace of Zadar stood witness to the evolution of the city and survived countless attacks and occupations. While two-thirds of the city was leveled during World War II, the palace survived with minimal damage. During the Balkans conflict in the early 1990s, however, the building was shelled and suffered considerable damage. These attacks destroyed the roof, resulting in significant damage to the interior. After the war ended, the decision was made to restore the palace and use it as an example of how the architectural and social fabric could be rewoven after a destructive conflict.
1998 World Monuments Watch
Through grants from American Express and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, WMF guided officials from the town of Zadar as they undertook emergency repairs to stabilize the building to prevent further damage and collapse. The town’s library collection was removed to temporary storage and funds were directed toward the conservation and restoration of the wooden support and tile covered roof that originally covered the palace. Walls were consolidated and foundations strengthened. These early repairs leveraged local support to continue the restoration of the palace to return it to its former splendor and position as the cultural center of the city.
Early records mention the Ducal Palace as having been built around 1200. It is known to have gone through at least two renovations in the 16th and 19th centuries, which transformed original medieval design into the intriguing amalgamation of architectural styles that survives today. The building is thus a reflection o the many cultural influences that Croatia has absorbed over a number of centuries. Today, the palace serves as Zadar’s cultural heart, containing the public library, city music school, concert hall, and, after the completion of restorations, it will house the city museum.