Nin – One of the oldest towns of the Mediterranean

Nin, a small town only 14 km from Zadar has a very rich and tumultuous history. The heart of Nin is its historical center on an islet that is 500 m in diameter and approximately covers 15 hectares surface area. Nin is located in a lagoon on the eastern part of the Adriatic sea, surrounded by natural sandy beaches and linked with the mainland by two stone bridges (16th century). It is worth mentioning that Nin is a member of the WTFC since 1992.

A continuity of life around the area of Nin appears 10.000 years ago according to historians. The present-day town on the islet developed 3000 years ago and belongs to the older towns on the Mediterranean. The area of Nin was colonized by immemorial people of the Mediterranean. Since 9th century B. C., Nin was the civilization of the Illyrian tribe of Liburnians. After that, the Romans had a strong sea and trade center called Aenona.
The rich archaeological finds are proof of strong sea links with Greece and the Hellenistic world; aqueducts, and the newest explorations found the world rarity, a very well preserved Byzantine mosaic on the floor of the Roman house. The early Christian period developed in Aenona from 4th till early 7th century.

The Croats colonized Nin at the beginning of the 7th century and formed their first capital, cultural and religious center of the new state. Here was formed the first Croatian state community at the end of the 8th and at the beginning of the 9th century. Nin is the oldest Croatian royal town, and the town’s glorious period was between 7th and 13th century. Since the half of the 9th century, Nin is the seat of the first Croatian bishop. The bishops from Nin played a great role in a religious, cultural and political character because it was the struggle for Croatian independence. The significant rulers connected with the history of Nin are: prince Viseslav, prince Branimir, king Tomislav, king Petar Kresimir IV, king Zvonimir…and more. Although, Nin has been archaeologically explored and although it belongs to the richest place of archaeological findings in Croatia, it’s past is still not known well enough. The period of prehistory and the Roman period is explored the best. However, the early Christian period and the Middle Ages in Nin’s history need to be explored greater in the future.

When Dalmatia came under control of Venice (1409.), Nin began to weaken. Nin was economically exploited but military not protected. The town was destroyed twice. The first destruction was 1571 and the second was 28th of April 1646. It was the day of death for the glorius town. The Venice government gave an order to burn the town and destroy it systematically. According to historians, the government of Venice sacrificed Nin in order save the town of Zadar. The monuments, many churches, the king’s palace and the bishop’s palace in Nin were all destroyed and have never been renewed. Since then, the revival of the town was very hard. The interest for culture and history was weaker and got lost at the beginning of the 19 th century. The economic development of Nin began after world war II with opening of the salt works and brick works. Since 1969, Nin has been developing as a tourist destination. The construction of the modern Zaton Holiday Resort in 1982, started a strong expansion in Nin’s tourist capabilities. Tourists come especially to visit two symbols of the old town: The church of Holy Cross from 9th century called “the smallest cathedral in the world” and the coronation church of St. Nicolas from the 12th century, which represents the only preserved example of early Romanesque architecture of that type in Dalmatia.
In ex-Yugoslavia Nin lost its municipality and was neglected because of the Croatian national characteristics and symbols that the town represented. The new era of Nin began in 1993, when it got the status of municipality back and in 1997, when the Croatian Parliament gave the status of town back to Nin. According to the 2011, census roll, the municipality of Nin has 2,846 inhabitants, which consists of suburbs: Grbe, Nin, Ninske Stanove, Poljica Brig, Zaton, and Žereva. The town of Nin has 1183 inhabitants of which 209 inhabitants live on the islet. The inhabitants of Nin especially cherish and keep several immaterial cultural heritages. The 500 year preserved tradition of the miraculous appearance of our Lady of Zečevo. The preserved knowledge of traditional wooden boat building passed down by family lineage and the gastro-delicacies called šokol (dried pork neck with special spicies), also passed down through family lineage. In the salt pans, salt it produced in a tradional manner just like the ancient Romans (sea flower salt). The renewed tradition of playing the tamburitza during the last 20 years in Nin. 160 young people have learned to play the instrument which consists of 13.5% of Nin’s population.

Town walls

Inside the defensive walls: the remains of the roman walls and tower from the 1st century are located at the southern town gate and at the northeastern part of the island close to the upper gate are the remains of the old roman entrance. Furthermore, there are other remains to be seen: the foundations of roman buildings around Holy Cross Church, remains of the medieval town walls, and the newly created town walls from the Venician period. The antique town walls are only partly explored. The remains of the ancient walls are in layers consisting of Medieval, Roman and Liburn periods. The present-day remains are from the 18th century during the Venician period in Nin. The destruction of the old town in 1646 didn’t leave any trace of the medieval walls except for the foundations of the 4 towers, that can be seen today. The present-day remains of the walls could be seen on the north-east side and are best preserved near the Upper gate of Nin. Currently, Nin is only surrounded by one third of its former walls and the current length is approximately 1300m, current thickness approximately 2m and with its highest peak of 7m. Currently, the Upper gate is 6.5m high measuring from the beginning of the upper bridge, 8.5m high measuring from sea level, and 5m thick. The Lower gate is 6.5m high and 5m thick. Since Nin was given the status of town and its membership in the E.W.T., city hall of Nin has been caring for the conservation and repair of the town walls, with the help of the Croatian Government.

To connect with us and to get the latest news and events held in Nin please visit us at our facebook page: and our funpage at

And finally, we invite you to visit our page to discover why Nin has been called “The Croatian Bethlehem” !!!

Contact person: Marija Dejanovic
For tourist information e-mail:

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