Zadar Sea Organ

Submitted by Michael Frankfort @mfrank_76

Zadar Sea Organ

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On the northwestern corner of Zadar’s Riva (southern seaside promenade) just a few steps from the Ancona-Zadar ferry station is a remarkable piece of urban architecture. Or is it a musical instrument? Zadar’s Sea Organ (Morske Orgulje) is both. Listen!

Designed by architect Nikola Basic and opened in April 2005, the Sea Organ captures the movement of the waves and transforms it into music–or something like it. It’s an odd, mournful sound that somehow evokes sea, wind and sky.

The “music” is created by 35 polyethylene pipes of different lengths and sizes embedded with labiums or whistles that play seven chords of five tones as the sea pushes air through them. The pipes are built into perforated stone stairs that stretch 70 metres along the coast. There are seven steps, each one with its own tubing. Why here? This particular place at the tip of Zadar’s southern quay is most exposed to the waves and to the two predominant winds: the tramontana and the landward breeze.

Musicians might be interested to know that the seven sound clusters are organized around two major key chords and were designed to evoke the close harmonies of Dalmatian klapa music.

Even without the music, the white marble steps sloping into the sea are extraordinarily beautiful and make a perfect vantage point to appreciate Zadar’s splendid sunsets.

Mr Basic’s project won the European Prize for Urban Public Space in 2006 and is now Zadar’s most beloved monument along with the Greeting to the Sun, directly adjacent.