Zadar, an ancient city on the Dalmatian Coast in Croatia has an innovative, modern monument harmonically built in among its Roman, Illyrian and Slavic remnants.
You would be excused for assuming you are approaching the sea down some regular marble steps, but what one actually meets Zadar’s shoreline is an organ!
This unique musical instrument was unveiled back in 2005 and has been making headlines around the world ever since. Designed by Croatian architect Nikola Bašić, this organ played by the waves, is a favorite spot for both tourists and locals.
What one doesn’t see when looking at these marble steps is the engineering hidden below
The lower steps allow water and air to flow in which are then funneled into resonant chambers under the steps, and pushed out through the channels underneath the upper stairs. That is how the soothing, chime-like notes are produced.
Musician and acoustics expert Ivica Stamać created seven sound clusters based on two major chords (G and C6). This is done so the music played by the organ resembles Dalmatian folk music.
The city of Zadar suffered heavy bombing and casualties in World War II. It also saw battle in the early 1990s, during the breakup of Yugoslavia and the Croatian war of independence. The organ is, therefore, also a symbol of peace.
For his work on the organ, architect Nikola Bašić won the 2006 European Prize for Urban Public Space.
In 2014, The Guardian listed the Zadar sea organ among the 10 strangest musical instruments in the world today.
And for all the engineers and acoustics enthusiasts out there, here is a blueprint of how the organ works.
According to statistics, 16.3 million tourists visited Croatia in 2016. If you are planning to visit this Adriatic pearl in 2017, don’t forget to pencil in Zadar!