Biograd na Moru, through history known as Belgrad, Alba Maris, Zara Vechia, Alba Civitas, was built on the ruins of an ancient romanian settlement Blandona. The town’s name means “white town at the sea”.
It was mentioned for the first time in the year 950 by Constantine Porphyrogenitus as a town founded by the Croatian kings. From that point on, Biograd na Moru got a bigger meaning in politics, economics and culture and was often mentioned in historical documents.
In the 11th century it was the capital of Croatian kings as well as bishops. Around 1059 it was the seat of a diocese; in the same year the Benedictine monks’ monastery of St. John was founded and in 1069 the nuns’ monastery of St. Thomas. In 1102 Coloman of Hungary was crowned as the Croatian king in Biograd, marking Croatia’s joining the Kingdom of Hungary. In 1202, the city of Zara (Zadar) was occupied by the Crusaders of the Fourth Crusade. Most of the citizens took refuge in Biograd, so Biograd was also referred to as Zara vecchia (“Old Zara”). In 1125 the town was destroyed by the Venetians.
Throughout the 13th and 14th century Biograd na Moru was run by the dukes of Cetina, the Knights Templar of Vrana and the dukes Subic of Bribir. In 1409 the city was acquired by the Venetian Republic and remained its property until its downfall in 1797. Biograd also suffered great damage during the Venetian-Turkish wars. It was destroyed and burned in 1521 and in 1646. In the 16th and 17th century, the Croatian militia was formed in Biograd and had much involvement in the wars against the Turks. The core of an ancient habitation was located on a small peninsula. Until the end of the 19th century, the town had walls with circular towers. The remains of the cathedral, a three-nave basilica, were destroyed, and the remains of the monastery church of St. John, have been explored and conserved. The church of St. Thomas has been preserved only in fragments. After the downfall of the Venetian Republic in 1797, Biograd was run by Austria until 1806, then by the French until 1814. From that year until 1918 it was run by the Habsburg Monarchy. Everything what happened between World War I and World War II also had its impact on Biograd. In recent history, the Serbian forces inflicted considerable damage by long-range bombardment in the period 1991-1993 during the Croatian War of Independence.
Today, Biograd na Moru is a cultural, economical and a well-known tourist center with great tendancy for development.