Along the Croatian coast, in the city of Zadar, tourists flock to the large set of marble steps which go seemingly nowhere; descending down into the Adriatic Sea. But, not all is what it seems,for the city of Zadar, the oldest continuously occupied town in the nations history, has a wonderful secret. That 230 foot long set of inocuous stairs is actually the visible part of one of the world’s largest musical instruments known as the Sea Organ.
Hidden underneath those steps is a series of narrow channels that connect to 35 organ pipes. Constructed using ancient wind instrument techniques, the Sea Organ is a modern wonder. There are seven sections, each is connected to 5 pipes, each tuned to a different musical chord. Each of the seven sections also has a different number of actual stairs above it, with one open end of every pipe built into the top stair. The pipes are different lengths to produce different acoustical sounds.
A combination of wind and waves create haunting melodies as they are pushed through the air channels. The oscillation of the waves rushing in and out produces a rich but somewhat spooky range of notes from the pipe organ. While air currents traveling through the resonating chamber add a hollow echo. The resulting music is based on total chance, with no duplication. It’s been described as unpredictable sounds in tune, eerie and haunting at times, and never ever the same.
The Zadarian coastline was devastated in World War II as was over 60% of the island. With the greater part of the center of the city destroyed, the coastline received little attention. In fact most of it was hastily repaired with imperfect concrete walls; often rubble from bombed out buildings. For over a decade, citizens were left with a stark grey point of view. An ambitious project to break up that monotony was undertaken with zeal in the early 2000’s. In 2005 architect Nikola Bašić, conceived and built the Sea Organ.
Bašić followed up the Sea Organ with another work, just a few feet away, called the Greeting to the Sun. It’s a circular work that is powered by the sun, lighting up with in patterns and colors.
Learn more about this wonderful place and other things offered in Zadar. http://www.zadar.travel/en
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