They Look Like Ordinary Cement Steps — But When The Waves Roll In, They Create Haunting Music

February 23, 2017

Along the edge of the Adriatic Sea in Zadar, Croatia, is a series of marble steps that lead into the water.

If you didn’t know better, you’d think they were just rather plain, broad steps, but they’re hiding a strange and beautiful secret — they’re actually a musical instrument, an organ, to be exact.

But this organ isn’t played by any human — it’s far too big. Instead, it’s played by the ocean itself!

Called the “sea organ,” it was unveiled to the public in 2005 and has since become a popular spot for locals and tourists alike.

It’s no surprise that the ocean inspired such a piece of art; the sea has long fascinated people and inspired them to create, from monumental pieces to tiny, adorable ones — like this mermaid dollhouse.

It’s just that this one actually incorporates the ocean itself. It’s an amazing place, but it’s probably best seen in person. There’s a new vacation idea!

(h/t: BoredPanda)

The sea organ was designed by Croatian architect Nikola Basic as a way to make the shoreline in Zadar, formerly just a series of blocky concrete structures, a little more attractive.

Wikimedia Commons
The organ looks like a series of broad steps leading down into the water, but there’s actually very clever engineering hiding under the surface.

Flickr / the sea the sea
The lower steps allow water and air to flow in. That water and air is then funneled into resonant chambers under the steps, and pushed out through the channels on the upper stairs, seen here. These cause the undulating, chime-like notes to be produced. Because the sea is always shifting and changing, the sea organ never sounds exactly the same twice. Each sound you hear is completely unique.

Flickr / Mike Reger
The city of Zadar was the site of heavy bombing during World War II, and was the most damaged city in the former Yugoslavia. It was also the site of a battle in 1991, so this peaceful place is also symbolic of how far the area has come from a violent past.

Flickr / Mike Reger
The sound is soothing and meditative, and it matches the rise and fall of the waves. It’s easy to imagine losing track of time and letting your mind wander listening to the calm tones.

Flickr / Michal Kolodziejski
Today, it’s a perfect place to eat lunch, watch the sunset, or simply take a break from the everyday bustle of the city.

Flickr / Remus Pereni
You can find people relaxing here every day, listening to the sea’s daily song.

Flickr / Ben Snooks
Listen to the strange, beautiful sounds of the sea organ here:
Soundcloud / srb445
If you’re wondering, this is how the sea organ works.


The sea organ is truly an awe-inspiring instrument, and one that continues to delight people from all over the world.

Please SHARE this incredible feat of engineering so everyone can enjoy it!