Koper Cathedral

Koper, Slovenia

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.

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Founded: 12th century
Category: Religious sites in Slovenia

Rating

4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Miran Ibrahimagic (3 years ago)
Don't get me wrong for giving just two stars... Church itself is majestic piece of baroque architecture, with paintings by Carpaccio, nicely restored, worth visiting... But, as we were there visiting with the tourist group, a very unpleasant, old man, alcohol smell all around him, approached the group as a charging pit bull, shouting at all the guests and the guide, obviously not allowing explanations inside the church and very rudely kicked us out of it, forbidding any comments... It was an experience which you would have never have expected in a church! Been to hundreds of churches around the world, but have never been thrown out of one before! Pity, it leaves a bitter taste in otherwise pleasant and friendly medieval town. If tourism is of any importance here, local community should do something to prevent such unpleasant situations.
Attila Tényi (3 years ago)
Hisroric church. Great and beautiful.
Meta Lenart Perger (3 years ago)
This cathedral is one of the biggest churches in Slovenia. Almost completely white and quiet interior contrasts with the lively square in front of the church. Art lovers will find some precious art pieces (main and side altars) and they will certainly apreciate the breathtaking white facade. Visit of the bell tower is possible as well.
JASON BACON (3 years ago)
It's not the most stunning looking cathedral from the outside but the interior is lovely. Although the whole setting with the bell tower and palace in the surrounding square makes for some great photos and a lovely place to walk and relax. The bell tower was €3 each and has 204 steps to the top. As usual you get a good view from the top. It is also suppose to be the oldest working bell tower in Slovenia.
Dominika Vilmonova (3 years ago)
You can visit the tower, entrance fee is around 3 € and you need to climb 204 stairs to get to the top where you can see whole of Koper. I liked the view but I think that the entrance fee is too high.
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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.