Several hours driving north from Dubrovnik, you will enter Zadar and the heart of the Dalmatia coast region. However, the city is more than just the famous sea organs & salute to the sun in the old city center, it also has a quaint seaside neighborhood that often seems like time stands still there, just a 40 minute walk from the old town center.
That neighborhood's name? Arbanasi!
This past week, the usual quiet & sounds of sea waves was often broken by flyovers of the Red Arrows, the British royal air force(RAF) acrobatic group doing exercises over the Zadar airspace lately. More prominently on the ground, however, was the visit to this centuries-old neighborhood by two Presidents on April 28, one of Croatia the other of Albania, two nations that have been partners in many key segments.
Albert Anthony personal collection - visit by President of Albania & Croatia - Trg Gospa Loretska in Arbanasi
Small Neighborhood, Global Impact
It was in Arbanasi where several well-known Croatian singers were born and raised, including Đani Maršan, Tomislav Ivčić, Mladen Grdovic, and others.. whose concerts went as far as Australia.. but also several other professionals, business people, and talented basketball & soccer greats like Josip Bepo Bajlo and Giusseppe Pino Giergia who played in the old Yugoslavia national leagues. It is also where Croatian and American author Albert Anthony has maternal roots.
"My personal story with this neighborhood of Arbanasi is although I am Croatian American, my mother and several relatives went to grammar school here. The local school is still there and overlooks the sea, so it is sort of like growing up in a small seaside town. Today, with the visit by two presidents and getting to meet them personally, it is evident how strategically vital the coastal region is and how much attention it is getting," Albert Anthony explains.
A story of coastal migration and trade
Though many newcomers or visitors to the Croatian coast may not know it, but a major reason behind the visit of the President of Albania, Bajram Begaj, to Zadar this week is that the Arbanasi neighborhood traces its history to a large migration of people to Zadar from Albania in the 18th century during the time of the Venetian Republic, so there is still a community that keeps that Albanian heritage alive in modern day Croatia.
Albert Anthony original collection - local beach in Arbanasi neighborhood of Zadar - April 2023
"Having coastal roots, whether you are from the diaspora, or born and raised here, you quickly learn that a region having ties to the sea also lent itself to waves of migration of different peoples here over the centuries, including Albanian, Croat, Greek, Venetian, and others. This is true both of Zadar and the old Dubrovnik Republic (Republica di Ragusa) which hit its commercial peak in the 15th and 16th centuries. Today's Dalmatia, I would say, is a blend of all of those cultures that influenced it in terms of food, music, tradition, and architecture. Today in 2023, trade continues to bring people together in this region, as Zadar hosted the World Sports Tourism Congress last week and next week is the Adriatic Sea Defense & Aerospace Exhibition. In my opinion, the Dalmatian coastal region is becoming more than just a beach holiday for your Instagram gallery.. it is once again becoming one of the strategic economic & cultural regions of continental Europe," Albert Anthony remarks.
About the Contributor
Albert Anthony is the pen name of a technology & business / markets columnist who writes for Investing.com, Seeking Alpha, and Amazon, as well as being a part-time contributor to The Dubrovnik Times and Total Croatia News, and running his YouTube channel.
He has been featured in local media in Dalmatia, TimeOut Magazine and NJ.com in the US, and was part of the roundtable during Digital Nomad Week 2022 in Zadar. He was born Albert Anthony Bozulic in the NYC area and traces his ancestral roots to the Croatian city of Zadar and local island of Dugi Otok.