You would hardly guess it wandering into the historic center today, but Nin is a town with a glorious past dating back 3000 years. The town was colonized by Liburnians, one of many ancient Illyrian tribes who settled the western Balkans. The Liburnians were seafarers who dominated the northeastern Adriatic coastlands and islands. Over the centuries, they gained a reputation for piracy in the Adriatic and fought naval battles with the Romans, who described their ships as swift galleys. When the Romans eventually defeated the Illyrians, the territory of the Liburni became part of the Roman province of Dalmatia.
Croatians colonized the area at the beginning of the 7th century. Nin achieved prominence as the first political, religious, and cultural center of Croatia; the oldest Croatian royal city; and the coronation site of seven kings. Beginning in the 9th century, Nin also became the seat of Croatian bishops—most notably Grgur Ninski (Gregory of Nin), who opposed the Pope and introduced the Croatian language in Glagolitic script into religious services in place of Latin. (Today Grgur is immortalized by a powerful statue by Ivan Meštrović, which stands in the town of Split.)
In the 1400s, Dalmatia was sold to the Republic of Venice. During the Turkish Wars, the govenrment of Venice ordered Nin to be burned and destroyed twice instead of allowing it to be captured and used as an Ottoman stronghold. Nin never fully recovered its former glory.
Only 18 km northwest of Zadar, the historic center of Nin occupies an islet of only 500 meters in diameter, linked to the mainland by two stone bridges. Today it is a tourist destination, valued for its remarkable history, sites, and artifacts.