August 30 - September 5, 2015: Issue 229



The Cathedral of St. James – sometimes mistakenly known as St. Jacob’s – a basilica with three naves, three apses and a dome - is the most important architectural monument of the Renaissance in Croatia. It was listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000. 

It is located in Šibenik, a historic town in central Dalmatia where the River KrKa flows into the Adriatic Sea. While other cities along the Adriatic Coast were founded by Greeks, Illyrians or Romans Šibenik is unusual because it was founded by Croats – although there is some evidence that there were other inhabitants in the area before the Croats arrived.  It was first mentioned under its present name in 1066 and for a time was a seat of the Croatian King Peter Krešimir IV.  Even now it is sometimes called “Krešimirov grad” (Krešimirov’s city).  It is the oldest native Croatian town on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea.

Over the centuries it was under the authority, at various times, of Venice, Byzantium, Hungary, the Kingdom of Bosnia, the Hapsburg Monarchy and the Kingdom of Italy.  During World War II it was occupied by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. After the war it became a part of Yugoslavia, until Croatia declared independence in 1991.

Attacks by the Yugoslav National Army and Serbian paramilitary forces during the Croatian War of Independence (1991-1995) damaged many buildings and monuments, including the dome and the roof of the Cathedral of St. James.  Damaged areas of the Cathedral and the city have since been repaired.

Although planning for the construction of the Cathedral of St James had begun in 1298 it was not until 1431 that actual building work started.  It was built in three stages and was completed in 1536.

The Cathedral is constructed entirely of stone with limestone from a nearby quarry and marble from the island of Brač.

Side entrance from the adjoining square - flanked by statues of Adam and Eve on columns supported by lions.

Adam - close up.

Eve - close up.

Because of slow progress in the early stages of construction Giorgio da Sebenico was invited to come from Venice.  He directed the construction in Renaissance style from 1441, certainly until 1473 and probably until his death in 1475.

He was succeeded by Nicolò di Giovanni Florentino from the Donatello School of Sculpture who continued the building in Tuscan Renaissance style from 1475 to 1505. He was responsible for the barrel roof made up of enormous interlocking stone slabs.  The roof was considered a marvel of construction at the time.

Winged angel with spear - on the roof above the side entrance.

After the death of Florentino two craftsmen, Bartolomeo of Mestra and his son Jacob, completed the building in 1536 following Nicolò’s instructions.  In the following nineteen years many Venetian and local craftsmen worked on the interior in Gothic style before the Cathedral was consecrated in 1555.

An interesting feature of the building are rows of sculptured heads on the outside wall, believed to be images of the procurators who arranged the finances for the construction work.  They are anonymous.  There are also occasional heads of animals.

Sculptured heads on the façade of some procurators.

One of the animal heads on the facade.

The baptistery under the cathedral, designed by Giorgio da Sebenico, is considered by some to be his masterpiece.

Carved stonework in a corner of the baptistery.

Because the interior of the Cathedral was undergoing extensive renovations when I visited no photographs of the interior accompany this article.   

Photographs by George Repin on 23 May, 2014.

 Arched main entrance with blank tympanum.

 Part of the ceiling in the baptistery.

Previous Reflections by George Repin 

The Nineteen Thirties  Remembering Rowe Street  The Sydney Push  Saturday Night at the Movies  Shooting Through Like A Bondi Tram  A Stop On The Road To Canberra  City Department Stores - Gone and Mostly Forgotten  An Australian Icon - thanks to Billy Hughes  Crossing The Pacific in the 1930s  Hill End  The Paragon at Katoomba  Seafood In Sydney  How Far From Sydney?  Cockatoo Island Over The Years  The Seagull at the Melbourne Festival in 1991  Busby's Bore  The Trocadero In Sydney  Cahill's restaurants  Medical Pioneers in Australian Wine Making  Pedal Power and the Royal Flying Doctor Service  Pambula and the Charles Darwin Connection  Gloucester and the Barrington Tops  A Millenium Apart  Have You Stopped to Look?  Gulgong  Il Porcellino Olympia  Durham Hall  Sargent's Tea Rooms Pie Shops and Street Photographers The Ballet Russes and Their Friends in Australia  Hotels at Bondi  Alma Ata Conference - 1978 Keukenhof - 1954 The Lands Department Building and Yellowblock Sandstone  The Goroka Show - 1958  A Gem On The Quay  Staffa  The Matson Line and Keepsake Menus Kokeshi Dolls  The Coal Mine At Balmain  The Hyde Park Barracks  The Changing Faces Of Sydney From Pounds and Pence to Dollars and Cents Nell Tritton and Alexander Kerensky  Making A Difference In Ethiopia William Balmain  J C Bendrodt and Princes Restaurant Azzalin Orlando Romano and Romano's Restaurant Waldheim  Alcohol in Restaurants Before 1955  King Island Kelp  The Mercury Theatre  Around Angkor - 1963  Angkor Wat 1963  Costumes From the Ballets Russe Clifton at Kirribilli  Chairman Mao's Personal Physician  The Toby Tavern The MoKa at Kings Cross The Oceaographic  Museum in Monaco  The Island of Elba Russian Fairy Tale Plates Meteora Souda Bay War Cemetery Barrow, Alaska Cloisonné Tripitaka Koreana Minshuku The Third Man Photographs and Memories Not A Chagall! Did You Listen? Did You Ask? Napier (Ahuriri, Maori) New Zealand Borobudur  Ggantija Temples Plumes and Pearlshells Murano  University of Padua Ancient Puebloe Peoples - The Anasazi  Pula  The Gondolas of Venice Cinque Terre  Visiting the Iban David The Living Desert Bryce Canyon National Park  Aphrodisias  The Divine Comedy Caodaism  Sapa and local Hill People  A Few Children Cappadocia  Symi Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre  Aboriginal Rock Art on Bigge Island  ANZAC Cove (Ari Burnu) 25 April, 1997 Hotere Garden Oputae Children of the Trobriand Islands Page Park Market - Rabaul Rabual  Kotor, Montenegro  Galleries of Photographs I  Lascaux  Galleries of Photographs II

Copyright George Repin 2015. All Rights Reserved.