Trogir’s Cathedral of Saint Lawrence: Radovan’s Magnificent Portal

For the past weeks, much like a diner on a progressive dinner savoring rich, multiple courses, I’ve been enjoying slowly absorbing the details of Trogir’s Cathedral of Saint Lawrence.

I first admired the twelfth-century structure from afar. When we attended the city’s rowdy Carnival parade a few weeks ago, its magnificent architecture somehow even managed to distract me from the rowdy parade participants assembled on the town square below. (That says a lot given that there were colorful horse-drawn carriages, children and adults dancing ‘Gangnam Style’ in a frenetic manner, and a parade ‘jester’ running through the crowd offering revelers a sip of an unidentified beverage from a Chianti bottle!) 

Cathedral of St. Lawrence in Trogir St. Lawrence Radovan Portal Trogir Croatia 1

Days after the parade madness, ready for a ‘second course,’ we stopped at the cathedral’s portal to soak up the early-morning sun. With the city’s residents on their morning commutes, criss-crossing the neighboring town square in a hurried fashion, we had the portal all to ourselves. (I can only imagine what it’s like in the summertime as a sea of shutterbugs elbow each other for snapping space!)

St. Lawrence Trogir Portal Radovan Croatia 11

Not surprisingly, the cathedral is Trogir’s most prominent monument. Started in 1213, and finished in the seventeenth century, it incorporates Romanesque and Gothic architectural characteristics into its design.

One of the exterior’s highlights – its west portal – was completed by a local master named Radovan, along with some of his pupils and followers. The portal depicts religious motifs: scenes from the Gospels, saints, apostles and even exotic animals. Ashamed Adam and Eve stand atop two protruding lions.

When you’re there in person, it’s easy to get lost in the details, but it’s remarkable to consider that these sculptures are nearly 800 years old! With the exception of Eve’s missing nostril and the couple’s slightly-snipped fingertips, the artwork is intact. With today’s all-too-common practice of building shoddy, impermanent structures, I wonder what architectural legacy we’ll leave behind to future generations?

In a future post, I’ll share interior images from this magnificent cathedral, and if I muster up the courage, I’ll conquer the infamous bell tower climb. (One of my well-travelled readers alerted me that the St. Lawrence Tower ascent can be quite terrifying!) Until then, enjoy these images of Radovan’s masterpiece!

St. Lawrence Trogir Portal Radovan Croatia 3 St. Lawrence Trogir Portal Radovan Croatia 15

St. Lawrence Trogir Portal Radovan Croatia 4

St. Lawrence Trogir Portal Radovan Croatia 8   St. Lawrence Trogir Portal Radovan Croatia 20

St. Lawrence Trogir Portal Radovan Croatia 7 St. Lawrence Trogir Portal Radovan Croatia 19

St. Lawrence Trogir Portal Radovan Croatia 16

St. Lawrence Trogir Portal Radovan Croatia 17 St. Lawrence Trogir Portal Radovan Croatia 18

St. Lawrence Trogir Portal Radovan Croatia 6 St. Lawrence Trogir Portal Radovan Croatia 12

St. Lawrence Trogir Portal Radovan Croatia 13

St. Lawrence Trogir Portal Radovan Croatia 10 St. Lawrence Trogir Portal Radovan Croatia 2

Where in the World?

Planning Pointers:

  • The Church of Saint Lawrence, known locally as Katedrala Sv. Lovre, has limited visiting hours, which vary based upon the season. When we visited in 2013, there was an 18 kuna fee to climb the bell tower.
  • For more information, visit the Tourist Board of Trogir.
  • Are you looking for accommodation in the Split / Trogir area? Shawn and I have spent a total of three winters there, using it as a base to explore Croatia’s popular Dalmatia region:
    • The first time, we rented a studio apartment at the Apartments Mirkec (affiliate link) in Trogir. We enjoyed our 7 weeks immensely! The apartment had good Wifi, and a kitchen with all the basics. It was also perfectly situated in the heart of Trogir’s gorgeous Old Town, just a minute’s walk from the seaside walkway (the Riva). Trogir’s bus station was about a 5-minute walk from the Apartments Mirkec, making day trips using mass transportation easy.
    • We also spent two winters in holiday apartments in the nearby city of Split. These apartments were in prime locations and would have been in high demand if it was summertime. Our first 2.5 months in Split, we stayed at the lovely Kaleta Apartments (affiliate link), which are located within Diocletian’s Palace. Our elegant studio apartment (called the ‘Diocletian’s Suite’) had lots of character, including Roman brickwork embedded into the wall. We had overhead views of life on Split’s Old Town streets, and we enjoyed chatting with the friendly owners, Novica and Negri. Two years later, we returned to Split, but stayed in the Varoš neighborhood at the Guesthouse F (affiliate link). We especially enjoyed the studio apartments’ central location, plus our tiny terrace, and the kindness of our hosts, Anja and Miro. (One of Guesthouse F’s apartments was originally a horseshoe maker’s workshop, owned by Anja’s grandfather. Shawn and I dubbed it the ‘horseshoe cottage’.) Varoš is just a few minutes’ walk from Diocletian’s Palace. With its quirky narrow streets and stone homes decorated with hunter-green shutters and flower boxes, Varoš is charming.
  • Visit my Croatia page for more trip tips, plus an index of all my posts about Croatia.

Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

24 thoughts on “Trogir’s Cathedral of Saint Lawrence: Radovan’s Magnificent Portal

    1. Caitlin, as they say here in Croatia, ‘hvala’ for your pleasant feedback. I’ve been to Croatia three times (once during the height of summer madness and twice during the off season). We’re enjoying having the Dalmatian Coast practically to ourselves, and if you like wine, they’ve got fantastic offerings here. Zinfandel’s ancestral roots are in a town not far from our lovely home away from home of Trogir. It’s quite close to the Split Airport, making it a convenient starting point.

    1. Andrew, my pleasure. Today, I asked a new Croatian friend (who happens to be a very talented guide in her spare time) whether or not the tower ascent was frightening. She said she’s too scared of heights to even attempt it. :)

      1. No, I appreciate the warning, Andrew! :) I think we’ve decided that I’ll at least attempt the tower. If my acrophobia should get the best of me, I hear the view from the first floor is almost just as stunning.

      1. I haven’t been to Croatia yet Tricia. Haven’t done much of Europe, apart from those around the Mediterranen, reserving it for when we are unable to head to the more challenging places in the world :-D

      2. I’ve heard that logic articulated by a lot of people, Madhu. :) When we were in Southeast Asia, as we were riding overnight buses and climbing challenging structures, we noted that we were happy to be able to explore those spots now.

    1. Cornelia, coincidentally, we went on a guided tour of the town not long after this post went to print. I learned even more Trogir tidbits that I am eager to share.

      Does it still look as though you’ll be journeying to Germany this summer?

      Vielen Dank, as always, for your gracious comment.

    1. Thanks, Judy! It’s a joy to share this beautiful town with others.

      It’s funny – I just wrapped up a wine/foodie post, and you came to mind since you’re always creating so much good stuff. I think you would’ve loved the culinary offerings we had. I’m hoping to somehow duplicate the incredible Zinfandel Risotto, among other dishes. Yummy!

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