On the Adriatic coast of Dalmatia region, Croatia, the city of Zadar takes its place. More than 3000 years old, city has tumultuous and dynamic history. During World War II the settlement was heavily bombed and, unfortunately, demolished. However, chaotic reconstructions were being held in order to rebuild Zadar after the end of war.
During construction of the city, the most charming place – north-western seafront of peninsula was turned into monotonous, concrete wall, neglected and hardly visited by the citizens. When in 2004 the Zadar Port Authority decided to revive recreation in this area, a special emphasis was given to the seafront. They had chosen to build an arrival jetty for cruise ships as a gateway to the city. The idea was to enable passengers disembark straight to the centre of downtown. However, the arrival point was not as representative as the Port authority wished. In order to increase attractiveness of the Port for the tourists a main architect of the project Nicola Bašič has conceived representatives of authority to improve a key detail – to structure an attractive staircase on the coastal line. Though this was not enough. The architect generated ideas about how the energy of waves could be used to make melodious and harmonic sounds. He came up with an idea of organs, which like pipes were the best choice to create a unique amusing touristic object. That is how the Morske Orgulje or Sea Organ was born in 2005.
On its surface, the organ looks like large marble steps, leading into Adriatic Sea. The sculpture is 70 meters long and has 35 organ pipes placed under concrete steps. Different length and diameter pipes create various sounds that converge into beautiful harmony. There are whistles placed on the pipes, which play seven chords of five tones. The movement when the sea pushes air through the pipes start to play chords. The sound comes through five sets of perforated stone stairs. Each set holds five organ pipes and each is tuned to a different musical chord.
This place brought only advantages to the city. Thanks to this Sea Organ music project, the inhabitants of Zadar have restored their relation with the sea. It became extremely popular spot for culture and sports, but most of the time people just like to sit here and enjoy the panoramic view, especially sunsets. Visitors say the sound is “hauntingly memorable” and “rather rhythmical and even hypnotizing.” Various concerts are being held here as well. Sea organ attracts tourists from all over the world. Besides cultural side, it has a practical function too – Sea Organ is part of harbour, where cruise ships rest. After leaving the ship the first object that tourists see is this gorgeous place. This idea helped to develop tourism as well. Additionally, today it is a centre for gathering, a good destination for a walk through town, and also a great place to spend your leisure time.
There are only three sea organs built in the world. The first „Wave organ“ was built in 1986 in San Francisco bay by Peter Richards. The second – „High tide organ“ was constructed in 2002 and is located in United Kingdom. And the third „Sea Organ“ was built in Zadar in 2005. All these organs differ in their shape, purpose and construction. Despite previous sea organs, Zadar „Morske orgulje“ excels for its formal simplicity.
In 2006 architect Nikola Bašić received the European Prize for Urban Public Space in Barcelona for his Zadar Sea Organ project. This project was the best among 207 candidate projects across the whole Europe.
„If you are in Zadar, don’t miss out on visiting the Sea Organ, this is just something really special. It’s like nothing I ever experienced before, it’s like the sea is singing for you, and all you have to do is enjoy.“-Christina S. Romania
„Great place to sit and relax after sightseeing. Very peaceful music made by the sea. This place is very popular so there’s always lots of people but still it’s good to sit and enjoy the views, music and famous Zadar sunsets.“ – Jusia G. Ireland
„A unique experience of sound and beauty – an amazing coastline which you can admire whilst hearing the sounds of the sea. A must see!“ – D. Paulos Australia