Trogir Cathedral

Trogir, Croatia

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 older one, it is also dedicated to St. Lawrence but it is better known as St. John's Cathedral after bishop John, who died in 1111 and stood out for his saintly lifestyle at a time when the Hungarian King Koloman had taken over Dalmatia and Croatia. Most of the work in the construction of the cathedral took place in the 13th century, being largely completed in 1251. That means the building is mainly in Romanesque style, whilst the vault inside is gothic as it was built during the 15th century, in Mannerist style.

Work on the bell tower began at the end of the 14th century, but it was not completed until the end of the 16th century. The first floor is in Gothic style and was built by Masters Stejpan and Matej. After it had been demolished by the Venetians in 1420, it was restored by Matija Gojković. The second floor is in low Gothic style and was probably the work of Venetian masters, as it is reminiscent of the windows of the famous Venetian Palazzo Ca d'Oro. The final floor was built by Trifun Bokanić (1575–1609). On top of the bell tower there are four statues, the work of Venetian sculptor Alessandro Vittoria (1525–1608). In the centre of the facade, within a small round opening, there is the carved coat of arms of the most powerful King, Ludvic of Angevin dynasty.


Trogir cathedral is the most archaic example in the construction of interior arcades in Dalmatia with heavy elongated piers separating the two Gothic-ribbed aisles from the nave, vaulted later also in Gothic style in the 15th century, three semi-circular apses and a vaulted interior above which rises the Campanile. Unfortunately, only one of the two planned towers (the southern), was raised. The cross vaults and the earlier terraces above the aisles are of Apulian influence.

A large vestibule was added in the 15th century and the artistically well-executed Gothic rosette on the western facade is from the same period. At the far end of the entrance hall there is a Gothic and Romanesque baptistery which was added to the cathedral in about 1467 by Andrija Aleši (1430–1504), a sculptor of Albanian origins and a pupil of Juraj Dalmatinac. The Gothic sacristy was added to the cathedral in the 15th century. The outside thick wall is divided by pilasters and pierced with arched opens.

Romanesque portal

The local architect and sculptor Master Radovan worked on the cathedral's gateway (main west portal) early in its construction. Most of the portal was carved by the master himself but some other hands are distinguishable, those of his pupils and followers. Finished and signed in 1240, it is a monumental and perhaps unique work of this great Croatian artist, of whom the inscription on the base of the lunette says: 'the best of all in this artisanship'.

In terms of its thematic concept, the portal is divided into two parts: upper and lower. The upper part shows scenes from the Gospels, that is, the life of Christ. On the lunette there is the scene of the Nativity, and inside the arch above the lunette there are angels looking adoringly at the scene. The lunette and this arch are the work of Master Radovan. Over them there is another arch which also shows scenes from the life of Christ. On the interior of the doorposts there are pictures showing the various works done during the different seasons of the year. Radovan also worked on the two small columns covered in reliefs. On the exterior doorpost the saints and apostles are represented; the interior of the same posts are decorated with figures of exotic animals and legendary creatures like centaurs and mermaids. Human forms dominate the portal. Both the internal and external doorposts rest on the back of bearers bent over, who are also the work of Radovan himself. Beside the portal, standing on the backs of two lions, stand the figures of Adam and Eve.

Other significant artisans who worked on the building were Matija Gojković, Ivan Budislavić, Grgur Vidov, and Petar Pozdanić in the 15th century.



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Founded: 1213
Category: Religious sites in Croatia


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User Reviews

Robert & Katie (Christophoros) (2 years ago)
Chatedral of St Lawrence. During structural repairs to the foundations of the bell tower in 1903, an altar consecrated to Hera was found, which might well warrant the assumption that there was once, on the site of today's cathedral, a shrine from at least the Greek and Roman period. The new foundations of St Lawrence' Cathedral were blessed at the beginning of the 13th century, after the old cathedral had been ruined in the Venetian destruction of the city in 1171. The Romanesque cathedral was conceived as a three-nave basilica with a main nave considerably wider and higher then the side naves. In the lunette of the southern door is an inscription of 1213, mentioned Bishop Treguan „of Tuscan line“ and city rector Ilija, probably of the Kacic family. A bell tower started in the second half of the 13th century rises over the forcourt of the cathedral. Still, the bell tower that we see today was created in the renovation of the whole cathedral complex, severly damaged in the bombardment of the city in June 1420. The works on the first floor were run by Matija Gojković and Master Stjepan, father of the sculptor Ivan Duknovic. The second floor has all the stylistic features of Venetian Gotico fiorito, while the last floor of all with its pyramid was completed in 1603 by Tripun Bokanic. Over the central part of central nave hangs a large crucifix by Blaž Jurjev of Trogir. It stands high over the entrance into the presbytery the choir stalls of which were carved in 1439 by Ivan Budislavic, which completed the several-decades-long campaign to remodel the interior of the cathedral after the bombarment by the Venetian fleet in 1420. The northern arch of the early Gothic forecourt and the passage through it is closed by the baptistery, which was build by Andrija Alesi with help from Niccolo di Giovanni of Florence. The baptistery is a characteristic example of the synthesis of late Gothic and early Renaissance stylistic features, also drawing upon the characteristic coffered vaulting of the Split baptistery. On the northern side, with a vow from Nikica Sobota, the Chapel of St Jerome was built in 1438-1446; master builders Nikola Racic and Marco Gruatto. In 1447 the thoroughgoing remodelling of the sacristy was begun. It was completed by Aleši in 1460. The carved and inlaid late Gothic armoire in the sacristy is the work of Trogir craftsman Grgur Vidov, brought from Venice by Koriolan Cipiko. Liturgical objects and relics are preserved in the Trasury: a seal of the Trogir chapter, gift of Elisabeth nee Kotromanic, widow of King Louis of the Angevins; there is a silver jug that according to tradition was also given by Queen Elisabeth; a mitre of Bishop Kazotic, studded with pearls; an ivory altar of the Embriachi workshop; a silver cross, the work of goldsmiths of Avignon – all works recently brilliantly restored and interpreted. Also interesting is the embroidered hood of a bishop's pluvial with a depiction of St Martin on a horseback sharing his cloak with the begger. Immediatly after the baptistery was completed, a contract was signed to erect to new chapel to the Blessed John of Ursini in its amalgam of architecture and stone sculpture, this is a classic specimen of 15th century art.
catherine (2 years ago)
Walk to the top, magnificent views. Inside - great art work
Luke Phang (2 years ago)
The main attraction in Trogir's historic old town, with its towering bell tower and the historical entrance that is carved with the bible story. It's a shame to not be able to enter the church, but standing outside was enough to admire the architecture of the church.
Damir Spanic (3 years ago)
Clean and well maintained. Center of Trogir is nice old core of the town. Located in the vicinity of the Split airport in Dalmatia County. Worth a visit. Recommended!
Ratko Sustic (3 years ago)
Main attraction in the city of Trogir. The cathedral of St. Lawrence, with its 43 meters is the highest in the old city. It is possible to visit presbytery, treasury, baptism room and of course to go all the way up the tower. Which has the most impressive view of the whole old city.
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