If, for some reason, after reading this title the first thing that occurred to you was Indiana Jones - I am sorry, but I have to disappoint you. However, it does not mean that what you are about to read is not adventurous enough. Because, being a traveler makes you in a way a treasure hunter. And by ‘treasure’ I mean knowledge, experiences and skills you acquire learning about other people’s culture, history and customs. The priceless treasure you are going to hunt here is something that will stay right there where it has been collected and guarded for centuries. But, make sure to take as many nice memories as you can and do not forget to share them with others.
Zadar is a town of outstanding artistic heritage. Its historical monuments are very well-known to anyone who has ever visited this Adriatic pearl, even if it was only for a couple of hours. But, on the other hand, there are also other valuable works of art visitors do not see at first - paintings, sculptures and handicrafts kept in the churches and monasteries.
Strolling around the old town of Zadar and enjoying the sights, I am sure the Renaissance façade of St. Mary’s will catch your eye. Standing on the Roman Forum and looking to the east, what you see is the Church of St. Mary, originally built in the 11th century in the Romanesque style, but later reconstructed in the 16th and 18th century. Together with its 11th -century bell tower, this church is a part of the Benedictine convent founded in 1066. This nunnery was politically very influential and played an important role in the past. However, inside the convent, hidden from the outside world, is a treasury. And, even though this is a closed order of Benedictine nuns, they will be happy to welcome you. So, do not hesitate - come closer and let your guide take you on a real treasure hunt.
Officially known as the 'Permanent Exhibition of Religious Art', this valuable collection was opened to visitors in 1976 and is also known as ‘The Gold and Silver of Zadar’. The number of exhibits, their artistic value and importance make it the most important collection of its kind in Croatia. Furthermore, it was declared one of the capital objects of Croatian culture. The works of art exhibited in this museum have originally been collected in the churches and rich monasteries of Zadar since the early Middle Ages and today witness to the prosperity, culture and power of the medieval Zadar, its famous goldsmiths and the cultural and art connections. Covering the period of over a thousand years, from the 8th to the 18th century, the collection comprises Romanesque sculpture; paintings, sculptures, book illuminations, gold and silver work (reliquaries, processional crosses, chalices) and embroidery from the Romanesque and Gothic periods; as well as the works of art dating from the Late Gothic to Baroque. The oldest object exhibited in this museum is a small reliquary cross dating from the 8th century. And among the most beautiful ones is no doubt the 14th - century crown of the Anjou queen Elisabeth, decorated with rubies, sapphires, emeralds and pearls. I know diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but these precious little friends are not bad either. Right?