To say that Trogir has a rich history is an understatement. With over 2300 years of continuous urban tradition this small Dalmatian town has stood tall throughout the area’s troubled past and is now one of the top tourist locations in Croatia. A wise man* once said „You have to know the past to understand the present“, so let’s start from the top!
Carved from stone, baptized by fire
Founded by Greek colonists in the 3rd century BC, Trogir (or Tragurion as they originally named it) swiftly developed into a major port up until Roman times. It has paid tribute to Croatian rulers from the 9th century when Slavs migrated from the nearby town of Salona. The upcoming years were not kind to this old town and it all culminated in 1123 when it was overtaken and destroyed by the Saracens. Destroyed, but not broken, it was quickly rebuilt and soon enough gained major economic importance. In 1420 Trogir fell under Venetian rule that lasted almost 4 centuries, once again it was demolished and rebuilt (with many new palaces, towers and residential dwellings). When Venice fell it became a part of the Habsburg Empire which ruled the city until 1918 (with an exception of a brief French occupation). To keep things short, after World War one Trogir was a part of the State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, Italy, the state of Yugoslavia and then finally Croatia!
Not your usual tourist spot
Nowadays, Trogir is a popular holiday destination. It was one of the first towns in Croatia where neon lights, posters and other modern ‘decorations’ were banned from the streets in order not to lose its authentic ambiance.
Different eras in history have left their traces: prehistoric remains, classical art, ancient Christian and Croatian art are fused here, and provide a harmony of culture and stories. Trogir is like a town museum. It has the best-preserved Romanesque-Gothic complex, not only in the Mediterranean Sea area, but throughout central Europe. The medieval core – surrounded by walls – contains a preserved castle with tower and several homes and palaces and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Make sure to pay a visit to the church of St. Lawrence, one of the finest examples of Romanesque and Gothic architecture in Croatia. Noteworthy is the main gate, a masterpiece of Romanesque sculpture by Master Radovan (1240). The church with its rich interior is one of the most beautiful Renaissance monuments in Croatia. In there is a hidden masterpiece: the chapel of St. John. It was constructed by great sculptors Nikola Firentinac, Andrija Aleši and Ivan Duknović and is considered to be one of the finest examples of early Renaissance in Europe.
The Fortress Kamerlengo is located at the end of the western part of Trogir, at the end of the waterfront. It was built from 1420 to 1437. and used as housing for the Venetian military. “Kamerlengo” is a reference to the title of a Venetian administrative official (a chamberlain).
Other noteworthy locations to visit in Trogir are:
City walls and gates: City Walls were built in the 13th century, while the gates date from the 17th century. Considering Trogir’s turbulent history it is quite a miracle that such a big part of the walls has been preserved. Gate ornaments were created by great artists like Bonino from Milan and Trifun Bokanić.
Another iconic monument of Trogir is St Mark’s fort built in 15th century.
Čipiko palace is located opposite of the cathedral. It owes its magnificent appearance to skillful hands of the same sculptors who built St John’s chapel.
Trogir’s main square is a large exhibition of artwork in the open. The St. Sebastian’s church was built as a vow for the salvation from the plague. An interesting detail of is the clock that was built instead of the bell tower. Right next to it is the city loggia ornamented with reliefs made in different eras by Nikola Firentinac and Ivan Meštrović.
The city’s wealth does not consist only of monuments and churches, the big part of it is preserved inside of them. Two valuable art collections are saved in the treasury of St. Dominik monastery and in St. Nicholas convent. The most valuable exhibit of the first collection is the polyptych painting made by Blaž Jurjev from Trogir, while the most prominent exhibit of St. Nicholas’ convent is a marble relief representing Kairos – the God of Luck, which dates from the 3rd century. The author of the relief is unknown.
To clear your thoughts after a long day of sightseeing take a walk across the bridge to the small island of Čiovo. Next to the waterfront, and facing Trogir, there is an anchored old ship transformed into a bar. So take a seat, order your favorite cocktail and enjoy in the enchanting night view of Trogir.
* Carl SaganShare this post