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ZADAR SPHINX GRANTS LOVE WISHES


Zadar will always manage to surprise and delight you with its monuments, history and stories of the somewhat forgotten parts of its past, from the second you arrived until almost the very moment you are leaving. One of these stories is the story of Zadar Sphinx.

 

Zadar will always manage to surprise and delight you with its monuments, history and stories of the somewhat forgotten parts of its past, from the second you arrived until almost the very moment you are leaving. One of these stories is the story of Zadar Sphinx.

 

 

If you decide to visit Brodarica from the Zadar´s Old Town, take the Barkajoli boat ride and you will have a lovely walk along one of the most prestigious parts of the city. The old villas from the Belle Époque period are still amazingly beautiful and many of them with wonderful gardens. In front of one such villa, located in the Bay of Maestral, you can see the Sphinx of Zadar!

 

The villa’s name is Villa Attilia and it was built in 1901 by a local artist, painter and historian Giovanni Smirich (Zadar, 1842-1929). He studied in Sienna, Florence and Venice like most of the prominent citizens and nobility in 19th-century Zadar. Giovanni Smirich was a great painter and he worked hard on restoring Zadar’s most important monuments. However, most of his paintings perished in the flames of World War II bombings of Zadar. He met his future wife Attilia Spineda de Cataneis in Venice and they moved to Zadar where she gave birth to 5 children.

 

As Giovanni and his wife Attilia were both into occult, they built a garden with a stone cave and several interesting decorative elements. After his wife’s death in 1918, he ordered the building of the Sphinx as a memorial to his beloved wife. Although it´s built of concrete, the Zadar Sphinx is not an ordinary Sphinx: it has fingers instead of paws and it looks as it was protecting a small goldfish pond between them. The pond is long gone due to devastation, and same happened to the relief of the eagle on its chest. The nationalization of the Villa Attilia after World War II led to devastation of the garden but what also helped were the legends of a treasure buried bellow the Sphinx itself. Among other mysteries, the hieroglyphic inscription on the Sphinx is also something that no one deciphered yet.

 

There are not too many sphinxes in this part of Europe left, but this is the biggest of all. It is also a very special Sphinx since it was built in memory of a beloved woman: it is said that it grants love wishes.

 

Nevertheless, this is not the only Egyptian connection in Zadar. If you look carefully you can find a small pyramid in the part of the city called Voštarnica.




Photo: Zadar Sphinx / Mario Padelin Family Archive

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