Zadar, Croatia

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It may sound like the name of some fantastic distant land or even a planet, but the only things out of this world about Zadar are its seaside views, delicious Croatian-Mediterranean cuisine and wines and the warm welcome when you arrive in this history-steeped Croatian town. Perched on a peninsula extending into the Adriatic, Zadar was a crossroads in the ancient world and a cornerstone of the Venetian Empire. As in many Croatian towns, layers of history and art are everywhere (keep your eyes open for the ubiquitous signature Venetian lions). In recent years, Croatia has found some new fame as the backdrop for Game of Thrones, but Zadar’s story of survival rivals anything that Hollywood could imagine. Caught on the front lines between the Allies and Mussolini’s troops, some 60 percent of the city’s buildings were destroyed in World War II. Today, however, the city that was once described as \"the Dresden of the Adriatic\" has been meticulously restored. From the new tourist port, Gaženica, to the Victorian-era Riva seafront walkway and the cobblestoned streets of the old town, Zadar dazzles visitors once again, just as it has for centuries.