The pillory of Zadar and its tasks (8 photos)

21 June 2024

How to instill fear in the heart and warn potential criminals from committing all sorts of illegal acts and other bad things? Of course, use a visual aid or teaching material.

As the residents of the Croatian city of Zadar did. In the center of which this harmless pillar is comfortably located. But this is only a first and deceptive impression.


On the outskirts of the old city square perched a peeling, cracked pillar, riddled with chips and stains resulting from centuries of resistance to the elements. Hundreds of years ago, the sight of a solid pillar could give any troublemaker, both real and potential, a heart attack.

Historical square of Zadar

In the Middle Ages, the structure served as a place of punishment, for which it received an apt and accurate nickname - a pillar of shame. Violators were chained to it, and everyone passing by was charged with ridiculing, humiliating, and pointing fingers at those being punished. In some cases, poor fellows who did not commit any absolutely terrible crimes could even be beaten. The punishment could last many hours and even last for several days. Anyone could stop and mock the chained poor fellow.

Now, fortunately, the fear and shame that people involuntarily felt when looking at the pillar of shame are a thing of the past. As well as the functional purpose of the pillar. It fits quite organically into the picture of the world and looks good against the background of other monuments of ancient architecture that fill the city’s Roman Forum of the third century, the largest in Croatia. The square, which was once the center of Roman life in Zadar, continues to attract tourists from different countries, providing activity, profit and making you wonder, even for a split second, how the pillory worked.

Part of an ancient column

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