This cathedral with Tuscan accents is the largest in Dalmatia and is a masterpiece of Romanesque art. It was built in the 12th century and completed seven centuries later. The building is located on an inlet in the southwest part of the city, not far from the organ of the seas and the salute to the sun, and is taller than any other building in the area.
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Description of the cathedral
Unlike many Croatian cathedrals, the highlight of this building is not the bell tower, but its façade. This entrance is located opposite the bell tower, on the northwest side. It can be seen through a small square covered with a very nice and typical paving, revealing three gothic influenced doors topped by two very beautiful rosettes framed by fifty columns. Its Pisan Romanesque style is evident in the typical blind galleries and their arcades. The shape of the facade is very similar to that of the church of Saint Chrysogonus, located less than 100 meters away.
You will be surprised by the sheer size of the cathedral inside. The three naves contribute to this feeling of vastness. There are chapels on the sides of the cathedral. You will find a sarcophagus on the left side of the choir containing the relics of Saint Anastasia given by the emperor of Byzantium in the 9th century. The stalls, the mosaic of the sacristy and the dome are the other outstanding features of the building.
Attentive visitors will notice that the stones and the colors are different depending on the level. The cathedral was built on the ruins of a 9th century church and was constructed with materials from different periods:
- The base of the cathedral is an ancient paleochristian basilica that dates back to the 4th century.
- In 1202, the church was damaged following the invasion of the crusaders and the Venetian armies. The building was rebuilt in 1324 and extended and renovated.
- In 1332, the ciborium’s stalls and baldachin were finished in the typical gothic style of that time.
- The arches and columns were added during the 15th century.
- The bell tower in its present form dates from the 19th century and was designed by the English architect Thomas Graham Jackson.
- The Second World War was the last event to affect the building. It was restored a few years after the end of the conflict.
You can visit the bell tower every day except Sunday, but you have to pay a small fee to climb up. The view at the top is particularly interesting if you are tall. The installed protections make the view less pleasant for people under 1.60 m. As you go up, the steps become narrower. This visit takes about twenty minutes.
Good to know
- The cathedral is open to the public.
- The opening hours are shown at the entrance.
- Decent clothing is required (shoulders or knees shouldn’t be visible).