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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

9/5: Split: A Getaway to Trogir's Treasures

After washing out some laundry in the only cold water tap in the bathroom sink and hanging it out to dry over the balcony, we headed into town to get the 9:30 ferry to the nearby island of Trogir with theoretically just minutes to spare. 

As we sat waiting on the upper deck for the boat to leave, we began to wonder what we were in for as the boat rolled a lot. All I could think was I was so glad we hadn’t had any alcohol to drink the night before as our stomachs would have been even worse off!

No wonder there was the no standing sign! It was hard to keep seated as we rolled so much. Young kids would have loved it, no doubt though! Obviously, the ferry company hadn’t invested any money in the way of stabilizers.

The ferry first stopped at Slatine to take on a few passengers. We noticed that many of the small towns have these large green and yellow inflatable play structures in the water by the swim areas.

As we neared the narrow island of Trogir, we could see the spire of the town's Cathedral. Trogir is a small island just off the mainland and is considered to be one of the jewels of the Dalmatian coast. The Greeks first settled here in the 3rd century BC.
It has been inhabited for around 4,000 years and 3,000 people live in the old town. I read that they refer to it as the ‘town museum’ in acknowledgement of the rich range of architectural influences – medieval fortifications, Renaissance palaces and Venetian Gothic mansions that meet on medieval lanes and wide waterside boulevards. UNESCO placed the town on its World Heritage List in 1987.

Trogir’s main street, Gradska, opened out into Trg Ivana Pavla II or John Paul II Square in honor of the pontiff who made three visits to Croatia. There were a number of pavement cafes that were busy. Our eyes were immediately drawn to the Cathedral of St. Lawrence but we spent some time first admiring some other buildings in the fairly small square. 

St. Sebastian Church and Town Clock Tower: The church was built in 1476 as an offering from the citizens of Trogir for thanks from being delivered from the plague.
A shrine to the parishioners who died during the 1991-95 war. One travel source referred to that period as the Homeland War.

Steven in the 15th century open-air loggia which had been the city court. The relief below had hung above the judge's chair.
On the center wall was an Ivan Mestrovic relief of some figure on a rather strange looking horse. Mestrovic is the same sculptor whose works we've seen throughout the former Yugoslavia. There had been a sculpture of a Venetian lion there, too, but it was demolished by Croats opposed to Italian expansion into Dalmatia in the 1930s. Apparently, local guides know nothing about this part of their city’s history!
Town Hall and courtyard:

We entered the Cathedral by the simple side door known as the count’s door and dated 1213.
We couldn’t help but admire the Cathedral’s West Portal which was sculpted in the 13th century. Upper sections depicted scenes from the life of Christ as well as from local Dalmatian life, especially hunting and fishing. 

Lower sections portrayed large figures of Adam and Eve hiding their modesty atop a couple of lions

We could also see exhausted Jewish and Ottoman figures bearing the weight of the door on their shoulders in a nod to the politics of the time when the Cathedral was built.
I must have taken 20 pictures of the portals trying to accurately capture the correct light to show the beauty of the sculpted entranceway. Unfortunately, they are not a good representation of the magnificence of what we saw.

The Cathedral's interior:
 The choir stalls:

The interior of the cathedral itself didn't amaze and particularly wow me. What did was the fabulous St. John’s Chapel named after the patron saint of Trogir. As a travel writer said, the chapel’s ornate work just manages to stay on the right side of overblown, with more than 160 sculpted heads of angels, cherubim and saints surrounding the figure of God.
Statues in the chapel of some of the 12 Apostles:
Sculptures were of children from the neighborhood.
St. John’s sarcophagus  in the chapel's center is a focus of devotion for many devout citizens of Trogir.
We climbed the beautiful Gothic 47 meter high Bell Tower which was included in the price of admission to the cathedral. It had been built between the late 14th century and the beginning of the 17th century. The steps at the very top were so steep, they were virtually like a ladder!

Lovely panoramic view of Trogir and the surrounding area from the top:
View of Pope John Paul II Square:

Photo of Cipiko Palace, located opposite the cathedral, and its balustrade as we descended from the Bell Tower:

Interesting statue in front of the Cathedral. No idea whom it is of though.

Wonderful hearing the noontime bells as we left the Cathedral. Before leaving the square, we wanted one last look at Cipiko Palace. The inscription indicated 1457 was the year the palace for Trogir’s most illustrious family was completed. We didn’t enter but just admired the Renaissance doorway with its columns and shell decoration above the cornice.

Trogir's Land Gate was rebuilt in the 17th century from a tall, pale stone doorway with grooves that once supported a drawbridge.
We walked next through more medieval passageways toward the Church of St. Nicholas and the Benedictine Convent. 

The Church and Monastery are inhabited by only two priests and three nuns. The original building dates from the 11th century with the interior constructed in the Baroque style. We only stopped in the lovely courtyard and I peered in the entryway before one of the nuns shooed me away as I tried to take a picture. We decided to forego seeing a 13th century Romanesque painting of the Madonna and Child and a 3rd century relief of Kairos from Greece that were unearthed in the 1920s.

As we left, the drizzle turned to rain so we looked for the nearest place we could stay inside for a few minutes to escape the elements. That turned out to be St. Dominc’s, a church and monastery dating from the 14th century.  
Photos of St. Dominic's:

After walking through the small entranceway above, we entered a beautiful courtyard. How lovely it would have been to spend an hour or so there relaxing on one of the benches if the weather had been pleasant.

The church entry was through the courtyard.

We had never seen such a statue of the Madonna and Child before.

A statue of St. Dominic outside the church.
We could only spend or waste so much time in the little church so we moved on. Though the sky was overcast and a light drizzle dampened our spirits somewhat, seeing the Riva, Trogir’s main boulevard, lined by expensive yachts, tour boats and crowded pavement cafes, was still an exhilarating sight.
We walked around the entire tiny island and saw the ramparts of the Kamerlengo Fortress/Castle which was built by the Venetians in 1492 to fend off Turkish attacks. The castle was at one time the residence of the Venetian governor.

What was once the parade ground between the castle and St. Mark’s Tower (see it in a couple of photos below) is now the town’s sports field!
No idea what a Gloriet is but it did look attractive! I wonder what France did to have this built in their honor?
St. Mark’s Tower was built by the Venetians for defense in 1470. Artillery was installed on the top level in readiness to defend the strip of land that separates the island from the mainland.
The Castle and the Tower had once been joined together.

We walked through the town's small market and got the bus back to Split as we didn’t fancy a boat ride in the rain much! Whiling away several hours in Trogir had been a lovely getaway.

Posted from Cetinje, Montenegro on September 15th, 2016.

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