After being in Split for a fortnight, we decided it was time to visit the Cathedral of St Domnius‘ and the Bell Tower. It is hard to miss this iconic building as you wander around Split. With its octagonal shape and the bell tower looming above everything else in Diocletian’s Palace, we were looking forward to the views of the city and harbour.
Cathedral St Domnius, Split
Where: The Cathedral fronts Diocletian’s peristyle, a square which the Roman Emperor would look out upon, and make addresses. These days it’s surrounded by a mixture of ancient Roman and later Venetian buildings. The entry to the Cathedral is flanked by lions and a sphinx taken from Luxor, Egypt.
When: Opening hours are from 7am to 9pm
Entry Costs: The prices for the Tower was 35 kuna (approx $7.20 Aus) and the Cathedral, 20 kuna (Approx $4 Aus) so not too expensive.
St Domnius’ Cathedral Bell Tower
The 60 metre high, St Domnius’ Bell Tower was started in the early 13th century and we’re told there are 183 steps from the bottom to the top. The first steps are massive and combined with a narrow dark passage it’s pretty hard going, this makes it really hard on your knees. Thank goodness there’s a viewing platform about halfway up which we able to take a break at. The last part of the climb up was on even steel stairs where we met a Japanese girl who was scared of heights gingerly making her way back down. Strange thing to do climb a tower if you’re scared of heights.
Views From Cathedral St Domnius, Split
The views of the city and harbour are breathtaking and quickly make you forget the climb you have just done We were lucky that the wind was blowing and had cleared away a lot of the smoke so we could see for miles across to the islands. However, the wind was howling and man was it cold up there as there is no protection. Coming back down from the Bell Tower is much easier however without a handrail in some areas the darkened stairs were a little scary. As it was off season there were not too many people but in summer apparently it can get very busy so you iwll need a lot of patience or go early in the morning or later in the day.
Cathedral St Domnius, Split
The Cathedral of Saint Domnius is the Catholic Cathedral of Split and was originally built in 305AD as the mausoleum of Roman Emperor Diocletian. In the 7th century, the cathedral was consecrated and ironically, named after the former Split bishop who was martyred by Diocletian in a crackdown on Christians. It’s one of the oldest cathedrals in continual use in the whole of Europe.
The entry doors are decorated with carved panels of scenes from the bible. At this time of the year like most churches in Croatia the interior is decorated for advent. With a nativity scene in one of the chapels, arrangements of flowers, fairy lights and green pine tinsel the cathedral is quite festive. The interior is quite unusual with granite columns surrounding the hexagonal room which support smaller granite columns supporting the domed ceiling. The intricately carved and decorated white marble is quite amazing.
The main altar separates the Cathedral, with the choir and clergy at the rear in a separate room lined with high wooden pews. Around the walls are paintings displaying bible scenes. The main altar is crafted from white, blue, red, black and yellow marble and is quite stunning. On top, two golden angels support an altarpiece with paintings of Jesus on all four sides surrounded by golden cherubs. Over the archway are more paintings featuring saints, and bible scenes all surrounded by gilding. It really is quite beautiful.
Whilst we were there a few people drifted in to pray. It’s great to see that it’s not just another museum and still being used as a place of worship.
After visiting the Cathedral it was time to return to the Riva. It’s the perfect place to people watch, have a drink and soak up the Christmas atmosphere.
Tomorrow we might head back out to Trogir and explore the coast a bit more.