St. Nicholas Centre for Education and Presentation
International Centre for Underwater Archaeology in Zadar is located in the complex of the former church and monastery of St. Nicholas on Zadar peninsula. It is a complex whose remains lie on numerous archaeological layers originating from the Prehistoric times, through the Ancient Period, Middle Ages and Modern period.
The first data on the construction of St. Nicholas church originates from the period of the 11th century, and it has been inhabited by Benedictine nuns – nuns of the Order of Poor Clares since the 13th century. Visible remains of the belfry, the construction of which dates back to the 12th century, were preserved from that period. After several phases of building and numerous changes that the complex underwent, the construction of today's St. Nicholas church began in 1760, and was desacralized as early as 1798, when it served as a barrack, military hospital and archive space during the last decades of the 20th century.
Since 2013 the complex is owned by ICUA Zadar, and numerous archaeological investigations were carried out within it, which preceded the creation of project documentation. After the conceptual design and complete project documentation were prepared and financed by the Ministry of Culture and Media, UNESCO and the city of Zadar, the financial conditions were created for the renovation and furnishing of the complex from the European Union funds.
The overall project includes the renovation and/or construction of several units:
- In the church building on the ground floor, a hall is being arranged for various events such as occasional exhibitions, seminars, congresses, concerts, etc. The ground floor space should remain without fixed contents, open and adaptable to different purposes. In the two galleries above the side naves of the church, an interactive presentation space dedicated to the research and presentation of the underwater cultural heritage is arranged. In addition to individual temporary exhibits, the content would be presented using modern technologies (3-D visualizations and animations, virtual reality, various interactive contents) together with integrated archaeological exhibits.
- Within the existing bell tower, the adaptation of this unique Romanesque monument is predicted
- In the monastery's three-story building, which adjoins the church on the northeast side, there are spaces related to the ICUA Zadar activities (services) - offices for employees, meeting room and storage areas
- In the reception building on two floors, a space for visitors of the Centre is being arranged, which will serve as a reception gate, souvenir shop and bookstore.
- The newly built Exhibition Pavilion is designated for workshops related to underwater archaeology and maritime history (e.g. construction of traditional boats and their parts, making replicas of archaeological finds, various educational and practical workshops aimed both for the general public and target groups of school children), as well as presentations of an occasional character as part of the basic purpose of the entire complex.
- On the eastern side of the complex, a medieval building is being renovated of which the northern facade facing the Bersa Brothers street and partially the northern and southern walls have been preserved. A dormitory with three apartments is being built on that site for guests who will stay in the Centre during the course or during various activities organized by ICUA Zadar.
This project will contribute to the fulfillment of the set goals of the Tourism Development Strategy of the Republic of Croatia through new employment, restoration of cultural heritage and increase in tourist consumption.
New employment will be achieved primarily through the cultural and tourism sector by way of direct and indirect effects on the creation of a brand-new tourist attraction in the renovated St. Nicholas complex as well as the realization of new cultural, scientific and educational contents within the adapted spaces of the entire complex.