The church of St. Donatus is one of the most interesting religious buildings in Croatia. It is located on a strip of land extending from Zadar into the sea. It is surrounded by the Adriatic Sea on three sides. The church of St. Donatus has a circular shape and is pre-Romanesque. It is decorated in the Byzantine style. Next door, you will find the Cathedral of St. Anastasia with its pointed bell tower, which is often mistaken for this church.
The building was built in the 9th century by the bishop and diplomat Donat. Its foundations are built on the ruins of an ancient Roman forum. The church of St. Donatus is the most imposing religious building of this period and of all Carolingian Europe. It was first named “Sainte-Trinité”, but in the 18th century it was renamed “Saint-Donat”. Its founder was buried there until 1809. His remains were then moved to the Cathedral of St. Anastasia in Zadar. Donat is today the patron saint of the city.
The original building was covered by a dome, which has now disappeared. It is now replaced by a roof of ochre tiles. The church is built around the central part, which reaches a height of 27 meters, and is made up of an ambulatory and three apses. There is a circular gallery in the upper part of the church. The interior decoration is kept to a minimum. The church is empty and only an informed observer will be able to find some inscriptions dating from Roman times on the stones reused during construction.
The church of Saint-Donat was not always used for religious purposes. It was used as a warehouse under Venetian, Viennese, French and Turkish rule, but also as an archaeological museum and is now a concert hall.
The excellent acoustics of the church make it the perfect venue for the “musical evenings of Saint-Donat “, an annual medieval and renaissance music festival.
Useful information to know before visiting the church of Saint-Donat
There is an admission fee to visit the church. The church is open every day from 9:30 am to 2 pm and from 4 pm to 6 pm.