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

For the past weeks, much like a diner on a progressive dinner savoring multiple courses, I’ve been the chance to slowly absorb the details of the Cathedral of Saint Lawrence in Trogir, Croatia.

I first admired the twelfth-century structure from afar as we watched Trogir’s animated Carnival parade a few weeks ago. Despite the parade craziness happening on the town square, the cathedral’s architecture somehow managed to capture my attention, too. (That’s saying a lot given that there were colorful horse-drawn carriages, children and adults dancing to 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!) 

Two people sit outside the Cathedral of St. Lawrence in Trogir.
View of Radovan's Portal at the The Cathedral of St. Lawrence in Trogir Croatia.

Days after the parade madness, we were ready for a “second course” of stimulation in Trogir (which has been on UNESCO’s World Heritage List since 1997). So, one early morning, we stopped at the imposing cathedral’s portal to soak up the Dalmatian sunshine. 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 Bible, saints, and apostles. Ashamed Adam and Eve stand atop two protruding lions.

When you’re admiring the cathedral in person, it’s easy to get lost in the details. However, 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. If I muster up the courage, I’ll also climb the cathedral’s infamous bell tower. (One of my well-travelled readers alerted me that the St. Lawrence Tower ascent can be quite terrifying, so I’m not sure I’ll make it to the top!)

Until then, I hope you enjoy these images of Radovan’s masterpiece.

Detail of a lion inside the portal of St. Lawrence cathedral in Trogir, Croatia This was designed by Radovan.
St. Lawrence Trogir Portal Radovan Croatia 15
St. Lawrence Trogir Portal Radovan Croatia 4
Eve statue at the St. Lawrence Cathedral in Trogir, Croatia, in a Portal designed by Radovan.
Adam statue inside the portal of the St. Lawrence Cathedral in Trogir, Croatia. This portal was designed by Radovan.
St. Lawrence Trogir Portal Radovan Croatia
St. Lawrence Trogir Portal Radovan Croatia 16
Detail of the portal in St. Lawrence's Cathedral in Trogir, Croatia
Adam statue inside the portal of the St. Lawrence Cathedral in Trogir, Croatia
St. Lawrence Trogir Portal Radovan Croatia 18
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.

Published by Tricia A. Mitchell

Tricia A. Mitchell is a freelance writer and photographer. Born in Europe but raised in the United States, she has lived in Valletta, Malta; Heidelberg, Germany; and Split, Croatia. An avid globetrotter who has visited more than 65 countries, she has a penchant for off-season travel. Tricia has learned that travel’s greatest gift is not sightseeing, rather it is the interactions with people. Some of her most memorable experiences have been sharing a bottle of champagne with distant French cousins in Lorraine, learning how to milk goats in a sleepy Bulgarian village, and ringing in the Vietnamese New Year with a Hanoi family. She welcomes any opportunity to practice French and German, and she loves delving into a place’s history and artisanal food scene. A former education administrator and training specialist, Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in international relations. She and her husband, Shawn, married in the ruins of a snowy German castle. They’ve been known to escape winter by basing themselves in coastal Croatia or Southeast Asia. Her writing has appeared in Fodor’s Travel, Frommer’s, and International Living.

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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