St. Mary's Church

Zadar, Croatia

Church of St. Mary is a benedictine monastery church founded in 1066 on the eastern side of the old Roman forum. 

The benedictine monastery was founded beside an existing church in 1066 by the Zadar noblewoman Čika. The monastery subsequently received royal protection and grants by king Petar Krešimir IV. After becoming a nun later in life, Čika endowed the monastery with two hymnariums and a prayer book, along with other valuable items. Both hymnariums are lost, but the prayer book survived, and is currently kept in the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

Čika's daughter Vekenega entered the monastery as a nun in about 1072, after the death of her husband Dobroslav. Vekenega, as the first successor of Čika, sought financial aid from the new king Coloman of Hungary to finish the monastery, and to erect new monastery objects. The monumental tower bears Coloman's name and the year 1105. The tower bears the inscription which commemorates the king's entrance to Zadar in 1102. The chapel of the tower also features the remains of frescoes dating from the 12th century. The church bears her tomb, which are decorated by Latin verses.

In 1507, a new Renaissance portal and a southern facade were added by the Korčula-born builder and stone worker Nikola Španić. The interior is decorated by rich baroque motives from 1744.

During World War II, when the city was a part of Italy, the church and the surroundings were destroyed by Allied bombing. The church was rebuilt after the war.



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Founded: 1066
Category: Religious sites in Croatia

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User Reviews

Sanjeev Kumar Kambadur (10 months ago)
Beautiful church
Michele Chung (13 months ago)
This is where you see the Silver and Gold Collection of Zadar - Religious Art Exhibition. It opens from 10-13 then 17-19 again every day. There’s an entry fee of 30 kunas for the exhibition. No photography in the exhibition hall. Don’t forget to check out the chapel at the end of corridor of the souvenir shop. Very serene and you get to see the old architecture and archaeological finds. Love the collection, not even religious myself. Just very much in awe with what art meant from 13th-17th century. Intriguing to see how the Catholics preserved body parts of saints. The curation is a bit curious - like separating the arms and feet of the same saint in different cases and areas. It’s also a great opportunity to compare how Madonna and Child were depict in different times by different artists. That’s very interesting too.
Silvia Kurolt (14 months ago)
Made the visit in August 2022, entry ticket was 15 kn. The climb to the top includes 5 sets of stairs, and the view from the top is absolutely amazing as it overlooks the entire city of Zadar and the surrounding area.
David Smith (2 years ago)
This is a small, pleasant romanesque church, with bell tower, which dates back to 1066. In the same amazing area as St Donatus' Church, Roman Forum, etc.
Andreo Ravel (4 years ago)
This church gave me the feeling of visiting a place from the Roman era, building with character.
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