Marjan Hill is a favorite promenade of Split, but it is also of exceptional historical importance. There are several picturesque churches spread around. There were many more in the earlier times. St. George is located at the cape, and at Marjan’s southern slope, there are the following churches: St. Nicholas the Traveler, Our Lady of Bethlehem, St. Jerome and Our Lady of Seven Sorrows. The remains of the church of St. Benedict are located in Bene cove.
Church of St. Nicholas the Traveler
The church of St. Nicholas the Traveler is located on a plateau below the first Marjan peak. It was built in 1219; Rako and his wife Elizabeth, both from Split, had donated it to St. Steven Abbey. The church’s confraternity definitely existed in 1362, with 12 brothers, 2 managers and 2 supervisors. At the time, there was also a house near the church, where a hermit lived. The hermit shelter is mentioned as EREMITORIUM in 1521, and as monasterium later. In 1682, a shrine is described as well-organized and guarded by a hermit, but it seems to have been abandoned in the 18th century. Hermits lived on Marjan for centuries, in poverty, praying. In the year 1922, the first panoramic view point and the access road were built, and the hermitage was removed. The church itself was being repaired several times, in 1919, 1950 / 1951, 1990. The location of the church provides the excellent view of the sea and the islands. On the feast of St. Nicholas (6th December), the patron saint of children, sailors, merchants, travelers, fishermen, and engaged couples, the traditional mass is organized in the oldest Marjan church.
Cave and Church of Saint Jerome
The cave and church of Saint Jerome are located beneath the Marjan reefs. Saint Jerome is the patron of Dalmatia and translators. It is believed he had lived in this Marjan cave and that he had written his works there. The name of St. Cyriacus is also mentioned in the context of this cave. In its beginnings, the sanctuary was located exactly within the cave. In the Middle Ages a small church was built next to the cave, but it was destroyed for unknown reasons - maybe due to the Turkish devastation. Traces of this church are found in today's church that dates back to the 15th century, which has been restored.
There is an interesting quote from the works of St. Jerome in the inscription above the front door, from the inside:
MIHI OPPIDUM CARCER, SOLITUDO PARADISUS EST
It reads as follows:
THE TOWN TO ME IS A PRISON, AND SOLITUDE PARADISE.
There is a stone relief above the altar depicting St. Jerome in the cave, St. Anthony and St. John the Baptist –the work by master hands of Andrija Aleši in 1480. In the 15th century hermitage is being re-intensified on Marjan. Hermits lived there in poverty, mainly on charity. The city had a cottage for them to spend the night when they came to collect charity or get food supplies. A well was very important for life in these areas. The well belonged to the terrace in front of the church. From the terrace, as well as the access road to the church, a beautiful view opens up of the sea and the islands.
In World War II, the inhabitants of Split were hiding in the cave during the air raids.
Hermit’s retreat dates back to the 15th century, as well as today's Church of St. Jerome, and there is another fort, very close to the hermitage ( see map ).
Karepić Hermitage can be entered only by a rope ladder. According to the coat of arms above the entrance and the date, it can be determined that it is a fortress built by the Karepić family in 1523. The same coat of arms is also found on a beautiful Renaissance palace of the Karepić family in Pjaca (People’s Square), built in 1564. The inscription below the coat of arms reads:
HARMONY MAKES WISHES COME TRUE,
DISHARMONY MAKES DECEPTIONS.
It is more likely that the building had a defensive character, to protect from the Turks and bandits. It is less likely that it had religious purpose for the nuns who had estates in the vicinity, because the space is big enough only for a shelter, not for a longer stay.
Church of Bethlehem
The church was built sometime before the year 1500, when once again the life of hermits on Marjan was revived. It was a simple, single nave building with a vaulted roof with the profile of the broken Gothic arch, which was changed during its reconstruction. After World War One, the church was abandoned and used as a barn.
The church was reconstructed in 1927 by Marjan Association. Monumental staircase was built from the road leading to the Church of St. Jerome to the Church of Bethlehem, in beautiful harmony with the whole ambience. The church keeps a valuable stone altar of Christ's birth, on each side there are St. Jerome and Saint Anthony the hermit, and Christ's crucifixion is above that, in the tympanum. In this church the Christmas Eve Midnight Mass is always held the earliest, during the afternoon.
Church of Our Lady of Seven Sorrows
A small church is hidden under the branched pines above Kašuni cove. It provides comfort to the unfortunate and gives hope to the suffering. Wishes and requests addressed to Our Lady are written all over it. In historical sources it is known under the name of Santa Maria Pietatis. It was mentioned in 1362. In its interior there is the Imagine Pietatis Beatae Virginis relief. It is believed that it was made by Juraj Dalmatinac or at least that it was created in his workshop – the style, sculpture processing and compositional solutions point to that conclusion. All of Marjan’s churches have the entrance facing the west, except this one, where true faith had taken refuge, faith that should not be emphasized by golden ornaments. It is a haven for the unfortunate ones to share their sorrows.
Church of St. George
It is located on the Marjan cape. It is believed that in Roman times here was the temple of the goddess Diana. The church was probably built in the 9th century, and the first data are found in 1275. The church of St. George was built directly on a cliff. From there, a beautiful view opens up of the Kaštela Bay. The level of the church floor near the entrance is 20m above sea level. The church has a rectangular ground-plan with a very prominent semicircular apse. It is mentioned again in the 14th century, and at the beginning of the 17th century the Ottomans burned it down. It has recently been renovated.
Remains of the Church of St. Benedict
Bene cove owes its name to the Church of St. Benedict, which was first mentioned in the visitation by Nicholas from Augubio in 1362. According to the data from the visitation of Archbishop Faconi, we know that it was devastated in the 16th century. During archaeological investigations in 2002 and 2004, the remaining parts of the early medieval church, that was built at the end of the 11th or the beginning of the 12th century were excavated and preserved. On this occasion, the church was restored (walls to average height of 50 cm). A special feature of this church is that despite the popularity of the Benedictine order, St. Benedict is rarely encountered as the addressee of medieval churches.
St. Nicholas the Traveler (Sv. Nikola putnik)
Our Lady of Bethlehem (Gospe od Betlema)
St. Jerome (Sv. Jere)
St. Jerome (Sv. Jere)
Karepića ermitaža - pustinjački stan (pećina) - hermitage cave
Karepića ermitaža - pustinjačka pećina - hermitage cave
Our Lady of Seven Sorrows (Gospe od Sedam Žalosti)
St George (Sv. Jure)
St. Benedict (Sv. Benedikt)