SPLIT Dalmatia Croatia - Travel Guide Map
Cathedral and Bell Tower of St. Domnius
The bell tower of Saint Domnius (about 60 m) is the city's main symbol. You can climb the steps all the way to the top of the bell tower, where a wonderful view of the entire Split awaits you.
The Cathedral of Saint Domnius (Croatian: katedrala svetog Duje), known locally as Saint Dujam (Sveti Dujam) or colloquially Saint Duje (Sveti Duje), is a Catholic cathedral.
The Cathedral of St. Duje is a complex of a church, formed from an Imperial Roman mausoleum, with a bell tower; strictly the church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and the bell tower to Saint Duje. Together they form the Cathedral of St. Duje.
The Cathedral of Saint Domnius, consecrated at the turn of the 7th century AD, is regarded as the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world that remains in use in its original structure, without near-complete renovation at a later date. The structure itself, built in AD 305 as the Mausoleum of Diocletian, is the second oldest structure used by any Christian Cathedral.
The cathedral was named after Saint Duje (Saint Dujam, or Saint Domnius), the patron saint of Split, who was a 3rd-century Bishop of Salona. Salona was a large Roman city serving as capital of the Province of Dalmatia. Today it is located near the city of Solin. Saint Duje was martyred with seven other Christians in the persecutions of the Emperor Diocletian. He was born in Antioch, in modern-day Turkey, and beheaded in 304 at Salona. For more on the traditional procession from the Saint Domnius Cathedral, see here.
The Cathedral of St. Duje is composed of three different sections of different ages. The main part is Emperor Diocletian's mausoleum, which dates from the end of the 3rd century. Later, in the 17th century, a chorus was added to the eastern side of the mausoleum. For that purpose, the eastern wall of the mausoleum was torn down in order to unify the two chambers. The Bell Tower was constructed in the year 1100 AD, in the Romanesque style. Extensive rebuilding in 1908 radically changed the Bell Tower, and many of the original Romanesque sculptures were removed.
The mausoleum has almost completely preserved its original octagonal form, encircled by 24 columns which supported the roof; the interior is round, with two rows of Corinthian columns and a frieze. A dome, once covered with mosaics, roofs the mausoleum.
One of the best examples of Romanesque sculpture in Croatia are the wooden doors on the Cathedral of St. Duje. They were made by the medieval Croatian sculptor and painter Andrija Buvina around 1214. Two wings of the Buvina wooden door contain 14x2=28 scenes from the life of Jesus Christ, separated by rich ornaments in wood. The monumental wooden gate posts and the stone pulpit from the 13th century represent the oldest monuments in the cathedral.
The choir, constructed in the 18th century, is furnished with Romanesque seating from the 13th century and ornamented with a painting representing the Mother of God with the saints and donors.
On the first floor of the sacristy there is the cathedral treasury, which contains relics of Saint Duje, which were brought to the Cathedral after his death.
Other treasures include sacral art works, objects like chalices and reliquaries by goldsmiths and mass vestments. It also contains famous books (the pyx from 1522, Croatia's oldest manuscript Evangelistar from the 8th century, the Supetar kartular from the 9th century and Historia Salonitana by Toma Arhiđakon from the 13th century)
Below the Cathedral lies the crypt, which was turned into the Chapel of St. Lucy (Sv. Luce).
The Cathedral, the treasures, the bell tower, and the crypt are open for visitors, with a 25 kn entrance fee (The Cathedral + The Baptistery + The Crypt) or 45 kn (The Cathedral + The Baptistery + The Crypt + The Bell Tower + The Treasury).