The Sea Organ of Zadar – A Musical Instrument Powered by Wave Movement

The Sea Organ is an incredible musical instrument made up of a system of pipes and whistles that plays actual music as the waves of the Adriatic Sea push air through it.

At the end of World War 2, the shoreline of Zadar, a beautiful Croatian city with a history dating back to prehistoric times, had been almost completely destroyed. In the years that followed, many of its lost landmarks were rebuilt as plain blocks of concrete, and the coastline was no exception. Seeking to restore it back to its former glory, local authorities brought in award-winning architect Nikola Bašić, who, inspired by the hydraulis, an instrument built by the ancient Greeks that used water to push air through tuned pipes, designed and overlooked the construction of the Sea Organ, or Morske orgulje.


Photo: linssimato

The 35 organ pipes are attached to the flank of a central service channel. Each organ pipe is blown by a column of air, pushed in turn by a column of wave-moved water, through a plastic tube immersed into the sea. The music created by the Sea Organ emanates in the surrounding area through a series of appertures in the vertical planes of the uppermost stone stairs covering the waterfront.


Photo: Douglas Pfieffer Cardoso

The seven pipes of different lengths and diameters have whistles built in them, which play seven chords of five tones as the waves force air through them. Each organ pipe has its own tubing and chord, so as you move along the shoreline, one can detect changes in the sounds and harmonies, according to your position relative to the seven perforated steps.


Photo: Lisa

The effect of the Sea Organ has often been described as hypnotic, with the sound of the music fluctuating in intensity depending on weather conditions or whether a boat or ferry passes by, pushing the water strongly into the pipes.


The Sea Organ was inaugurated in April 2005, and has since become one of the major attractions of Zadar.

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