List of famous people from Zadar that are in some way connected with the city or were born in Zadar. Those are the people of some other times who left behind works important for understanding the world as it is today:
1. Joanna II of Naples (1375 – 1435)
Joanna II was the queen of Naples from 1414 to her death and pretender to the Hungarian, Croatian, Sicilian and Jerusalem thrones after the death of her brother, King Ladislaus of Naples. Ladislaus the Magnanimous (Ladislaus of Naples) is known for the infamous sale of the city of Zadar and Dalmatia to the Venetians for 100,000.00 ducats in 1409.
Queen Joanna has the city of Zadar registered as her birth place, and she was baptized in the church of St. Chrysogonus. Her godfather was Krešo Civalelli, a prominent member of one of the oldest and authentic Zadar noble families, whose stone coat of arms still adorns the front door of the building in Špire Brusine Street.
The queen had no children, so the Neapolitan branch of the Anjou dynasty, which ruled there from 1266, became extinct.
2. Blessed Jacob of Zadar (Italian: Giacomo Illirico 1400 – 1485)
Jacob was born around 1400 in Zadar, and at the age of 20 he joined the Franciscan order. As a monk, he performed various services in monastery, helping the poor and the sick. During a trip to Italy with his Franciscan Provincial, he came to Bari and decided to stay in that province. According to tradition people attributed him numerous miracles, especially healings and the gift of prophecy. The city of Bitetto in Italy, chose him as its patron saint, attributing to him miraculous rescue from the plague, which ravaged several surrounding cities. He was beatified by Pope Clement XI in 1700, and his feast day is celebrated on April 27. Due to his origin, Blessed Jacob of Zadar was called Ilirik (Croat).
His body is kept in Bitetto, in the sanctuary, and people in Zadar started to celebrate the blessed Jacob of Zadar in the church of St. Francis after believers from Bitetto brought his picture and reliquaries in 1989.
3. Giorgio da Sebenico (Croatian Juraj Dalmatinac, beginning of 15th century – 1473/75)
Giorgio da Sebenico was a prominent sculptor and builder. Giorgio was born in Zadar and there is not much written about his youth and early work. For some time he lived in Venice where he also worked, and in 1441 he was invited to came to Šibenik and to work on the cathedral where he was the chief architect. He gave the Šibenik Cathedral a monumental shape: skilfully sculptured baptistery in the style of floral Gothic, a frieze of realistically craved human heads around the cathedral, an elevated sanctuary and he worked applying the “assembly technique” of building large stone blocks without binding material due to which Šibenik cathedral is one of its kind in Europe, inscribed in UNESCO World Heritage list. Besides to working at the Šibenik Cathedral, Juraj also worked in Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik, Pag, and Italy (Ancona, Rimini, Ravenna, Urbino). Therefore, it is not surprising, that Juraj is mentioned in historical writings as the sculptor “Schiavone” who did significant things in Italy. Due to his talent, Master Giorgio is ranked among the best European Renaissance sculptors of the mid-15th century, such as Donatello, Michelozzi and others.
4. Luciano and Francesco Laurana (15th century)
Brothers Luciano and Francesco Laurana, also known as de la Vrana (Croatian Vranjanin) were Schiavoni, born in Zadar at the beginning of the 15th century. Schiavoni were called Croats, inhabitants of the eastern Adriatic coast in the Venetian Republic, but also great artists who belonged to that community, and became famous outside the borders of their homeland.
Francesco Laurana is a celebrated Renaissance sculptor known for his refined female portraits of Aragonese princesses, some of which are displayed in the National Art Gallery in Washington. He worked in Sicily, Naples, Rimini and Avignon. He is credited to be the one that brought the spirit of the Italian Renaissance to southern France.
His brother Luciano Laurana was a prominent architect and builder. Luciano is better known and appreciated in the world than in Croatia. He created the image of a modern city with the projects of duke’s palaces in Urbino, Gubbio, Peasar and paintings of the ideal city. Lucian introduced many innovations into architecture, which were later followed by all other architects.
Today in Zadar, the street that vertically intersects Kalelarga is named “Braće Vranjana” according to brothers Laurana.
5. Petar Zoranić (Zadar, 1508 – ?, ? before 1569)
Petar Zoranić is a Croatian writer born in 1508 in Zadar. He was a descendant of a noble family from Nin, who took refuge in Zadar due to the Ottoman danger. Life of Petar Zoranić to this day remains largely a mystery. Little is known about his life and work, and it is not known when or how he died, but Zoranić is known as the writer of the first Croatian novel Mountain. The work was written in 1536 and printed in Venice in 1569. The novel tells story of the seven-day journey of the shepherd Zoran through the hinterland of Zadar, Velebit and Dinara, on which he sets off in search of a cure for unrequited love.
Zoranić’s Mountains carry patriotism and criticism of Croatian writers who write humanistic literature primarily in Latin. As the first novel in the Croatian language, Petar Zoranić’s Mountains is a unique work of Croatian pre-Renaissance literature.
6. Dragutin Parčić (1832 – 1902)
Fr. Dragutin Antun Parčić was born on Krk, and was a Croatian linguist, a pioneer of photography in Zadar and the guardian of the monastery on Galevac island. Parčić’s photographs of the solar eclipse in 1861 are unique images of this kind in the history of early photography in Croatia, and this is only the fifth photograph of the solar eclipse in the world. Besides being able to attach the camera to a telescope and record the Sun, he repeated this procedure with a microscope and took microscopic photographs (eg. the common flea), the first of its kind in Croatia. His collection of photographs from Prvić-Luka, Zadar, Preko, veduta and portraits is among the most important collections of early photography in Croatia. Thanks to the professionally conducted procedure, its negatives are still practically usable today.
7. Franz von Suppe (1819 – 1895)
Franz von Suppe was the first Austrian operetta composer. He was borni in Split in 1819. He received his primary music education in Zadar, and from 1835 he settled in Vienna and devoted himself entirely to music. In 1832 he wrote a mass in Zadar, which he later reworked and printed in Vienna under the title Missa Dalmatica. He began writing his first operetta “Il pomo” in Zadar, but the work remained unfinished. In 2020 was unveiled memorial plaque to Franz von Suppe in Zadar old town, marking 200th anniversary of his birth.
8. Spiridion Brusina (1845 – 1908)
Spriridion Brusina was born in Zadar in 1845, and he was remembered as a zoologist and a prominent university professor who studied living and extinct mollusks and birds and mammals. He was the director of the Zoological Museum in Zagreb, and he collected a large collection of our terrestrial, freshwater and marine mollusks. He was the first in Croatia to organize ornithological observations. He edited the best local ornithological collection of the then Austro-Hungary Monarhy. He communicated with the most famous zoologists of the time, from Moscow to Cambridge, and also corresponded with Darwin. He advocated the establishment of scientific institutes for the study of life in the sea on the Adriatic coast, so a statue was erected in his honor on the waterfront in Zadar.
9. Georg Ritter von Trapp (1880 – 1947)
Georg Ritter von Trapp is known as Baron von Trapp, an Austro-Hungarian naval officer born in 1880 in Zadar. His life served as the inspiration for the film “The Sound of Music”. The film is based on the true story of Maria Von Trapp and a group that operated in America called Trapp Family Singers. The film won 5 Oscars and grossed $ 158.7 million in U.S. theaters, making it the most commercial film of the 1960s.