UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Croatia

Old City of Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik is one of the most prominent tourist destinations in the Mediterranean Sea, today listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. The prosperity of the city was historically based on maritime trade; as the capital of the maritime Republic of Ragusa, it achieved a high level of development, particularly during the 15th and 16th centuries, as it became notable for its wealth and skilled diplomacy. The 'Pearl of the ...
Founded: 7th century | Location: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Diocletian's Palace

Considered to be one of the most imposing Roman ruins, Diocletian’s palace is certainly the main attraction of the city of Split. The ruins of palace, built between the late 3rd and the early 4th centuries A.D., can be found throughout the city. Today the remains of the palace are part of the historic core of Split, which in 1979 was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. While it is referred to as a 'palac ...
Founded: 4th century AD | Location: Split, Croatia

Trogir Cathedral

The Cathedral of St. Lawrence serves now as the most imposing monument in the city of Trogir. It is part of the historic core of Trogir, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The cathedral was built on the foundations of an Early Christian cathedral destroyed in the 12th century during the sack of the town by the Saracens in 1123. The building of the cathedral began in 1213 and finished during the 17th century. Like the ...
Founded: 1213 | Location: Trogir, Croatia

Historic City of Trogir

The historic city of Trogir is situated on a small island between the Croatian mainland and the island of Čiovo. Since 1997, it has been included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites for its Venetian architecture. Trogir has 2300 years of continuous urban tradition. Its culture was created under the influence of the ancient Greeks, and then the Romans, and Venetians. Trogir has a high concentration of palaces, chu ...
Founded: 3rd century BCE | Location: Trogir, Croatia

Sibenik Cathedral

The Cathedral of St. James in Šibenik is a triple-nave basilica with three apses and a dome. It is the most important architectural monument of the Renaissance in the entire country. Since 2000, the cathedral has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The building of the church was initiated in 1402, though plans on its construction had already begun in 1298, when Šibenik became a municipality. The actual work to tran ...
Founded: 1402 | Location: Šibenik, Croatia

Euphrasian Basilica

The Euphrasian Basilica complex, including a sacristy, baptistery and the bell tower of the nearby archbishop's palace, is an excellent example of early Byzantine architecture in the Mediterranean region. The Basilica has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1997. The earliest basilica was dedicated to Saint Maurus of Parentium and dates back to the second half of the 4th century. The floor mosaic fro ...
Founded: 553 AD | Location: Poreč, Croatia

St. Nicholas Fortress

St. Nicholas' Fortress was built on the left side at the entrance to St. Anthony Channel, on the island called Ljuljevac. The island is situated at the entrance to the Šibenik channel across the Jadrija beach lighthouse. St. Nicholas' Fortress got its name from the Benedictine Monastery of St. Nicholas, which was originally on the island, but due to the construction of the fortress, it had to be demolished. At the reques ...
Founded: 1525 | Location: Šibenik, Croatia

Stari Grad Plain

The Stari Grad Plain of the town of Stari Grad on the island of Hvar is an agricultural landscape that was set up by the ancient Greek colonists in the 4th century BC, and remains in use. The plain is generally still in its original form. The ancient layout has been preserved by careful maintenance of the stone walls over 24 centuries, along with the stone shelters (known locally as trims), and the water collection system ...
Founded: 4th century BCE | Location: Stari Grad, Croatia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Quimper Cathedral

From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

The three-level elevation with arches, triforium and galleries seems more uniform and expresses anglo-Norman influence in the thickness of the walls (Norman passageway at the gallery level) or the decorative style (heavy mouldings, decorative frieze under the triforium). This building site would have to have been overseen in one shot. Undoubtedly interrupted by the war of Succession (1341-1364) it draws to a close with the building of the lierne vaults (1410) and the fitting of stained-glass windows. Bishop Bertrand de Rosmadec and Duke Jean V, whose coat of arms would decorate these vaults, finished the chancel before starting on the building of the facade and the nave.

Isolated from its environment in the 19th century, the cathedral was – on the contrary – originally very linked to its surroundings. Its site and the orientation of the facade determined traffic flow in the town. Its positioning close to the south walls resulted in particuliarities such as the transfer of the side gates on to the north and south facades of the towers: the southern portal of Saint Catherine served the bishop’s gate and the hospital located on the left bank (the current Préfecture) and the north gate was the baptismal porch – a true parish porch with its benches and alcoves for the Apostles’ statues turned towards the town, completed by an ossuary (1514).

The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.