The three-nave Romanesque Koper Cathedral with three apses was built in the second half of the 12th century. The Romanesque construction is preserved on the south side, where typical funnel-shape windows are intact and the stonework is imitated in the facade. Towards the west the church was extended to the bell tower and in 1392 it was Gothicized. The lower floor facade by the square has remained Gothic. The upper floor was redone with pilaster separations after the fire in 1460. The decorative Renaissance elements are the most distinctive on the west side, built in 1488, and in the chiselled details, such as the portals.
In the middle of the square, right next to the west façade, stands a mighty self-supporting bell tower repaired as a city tower in the 15th century. It has four main floors. The upper is open on all sides by quadra-forums. Higher up is a terrace and an ending with an Aquileian cap. In the bell tower hangs one of the oldest bells in Slovenia (1333). It was cast by Master Jakob in Venice. The upper terrace is periodically open and offers a great view of the Bay of Trieste. The clock, positioned in the middle of the third floor, faces the square.
In the first half of the 18th century the interior was unified and arranged, and the hall was remade in Baroque style under the influence of Venetian origins into one of the largest church interiors in Slovenia. The church has had additional fittings. The work was directed by the architect Giorgio Massari. Among the interior fittings are numerous quality paintings of artists from Venice. There are more works by the even more famous artists Benedetto and Vittoreo Carpaccio. On the south side in the middle of the church hangs the Sacra Conversatione by V. Carpaccio from 1516, one of the best Renaissance paintings in Slovenia. It was painted for the of altar St. Rochus.
Among the sculptural works of art, a chiselled sarcophagus of St. Nazarius from the middle of the 14th century holds a special position, behind the altar. The image of the adored bishop is chiselled on the cover; on the circumference are the miracles of that patron of the city.References:
Sirmione castle was built near the end of the 12th century as part of a defensive network surrounding Verona. The castle was maintained and extended first as part of the Veronese protection against their rivals in Milan and later under the control of the Venetian inland empire. The massive fortress is totally surrounded by water and has an inner porch which houses a Roman and Medieval lapidary. From the drawbridge, a staircase leads to the walkways above the walls, providing a marvellous view of the harbour that once sheltered the Scaliger fleet. The doors were fitted with a variety of locking systems, including a drawbridge for horses, carriages and pedestrians, a metal grate and, more recently, double hinged doors. Venice conquered Sirmione in 1405, immediately adopting provisions to render the fortress even more secure, fortifying its outer walls and widening the harbour.
Thanks to its strategical geographical location as a border outpost, Sirmione became a crucial defence and control garrison for the ruling nobles, retaining this function until the 16th century, when its role was taken up by Peschiera del Garda.