Thursday, 31.7.2014. www.split1700croatia.com
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Church of St. Dominus: One of the best preserved examples of woodcarving are the wooden doors of the Split cathedral made in 1214 by master Andija Buvina. The doorframe was made out of walnut wood on a background of oak boards. Each of the two wings of the doors, which are 530 cm in height and 360 cm in width, contains 14 scenes from the life of Christ. The left wing depicts scenes from Christ's childhood, from angel Gabriel's Annunciation until Christ's Resurrection, whereas the right one contains scenes of Christ's suffering, death and ascension. The area between the 28 panels is ornamented by motifs of vine tendrils twining around people and birds picking grapes.

Emperor's mausoleum

Left of the main entrance lies a richly ornamented stone pulpit, made in late-Romanesque style. Six slender columns with vividly decorated capitals represent the basis of the hexagonal pulpit, which is broken by a rich row of blind arches with double pillars of coloured marble, reliefs and symbols of the evangelists.

Wooden choir benches, elaborately furnished with typically Romanesque decorations, are placed in a later added Baroque choir from the 17th century. The choir seating represents a significant piece of wood-carving art dating from the 13th century, which shows influences of the Lombard Romanesque style but also certain elements of both Byzantine and Islamic decorations. Seven turned horizontal belts contain carvings with motifs of plant and animal life. The four ends of the backrest feature wooden reliefs of the patron saints of Split.

The south-east niche of the cathedral holds the altar of St. Domnius, consisting from an early-Christian sarcophagus and an early-Romanesque plate ornamented with an interlace pattern. A new altar in late-Gothic style was built above it in 1427 by the sculptor Bonino of Milan. The scene is dominated by a reclining figure of the saint covered with a stone baldachin, and the relief also contains figures of other saints. The stone vault (ciborium) above the altar is decorated with Gothic mural paintings, a work by the famous local painter Dujam Vuškoviæ. Twenty years later, in 1448, in the north-east niche of the cathedral master Juraj Matejev Dalmatinac (George the Dalmatian) built the altar of St. Anastasius, which represents a masterpiece of Gothic-Renaissance sculpture in Croatia. The central ornament of the altar is a realistic relief depicting the Flagellation of Christ.

Sphinxes

The northern Baroque altar of St. Domnius was built in 1766./67 by the famous Venetian sculptor G.M.Morlaiter. The elaborately divided altar contains a sarcophagus supported by allegorical female characters of Faith and Constancy. The softly modelled relief on the front of the altar shows the scene of the martyr death of the first bishop of Salona.

The main Baroque altar of the cathedral occupies the arch leading through to the added choir. The vault above the altar is ornamented with Baroque paintings by the local master Matija Ponèun.

The cathedral contains a number of valuable crucifixes dating from various periods.

The later added building of the sacristy on the southeast side of the cathedral accommodates the cathedral’s treasury which contains a number of valuable religious artefacts dating from the early Middle Ages until Baroque. These primarily include relics and liturgical artefacts made out of precious metals, liturgical books and old manuscripts as well as icons and valuable mass vestments. One of the most valuable books in the collection is the Split Evangelistarium from the 7th and 8th century, as well as the elaborately ornamented manuscript of Historia Salonitana, a chronicle of the Split church written in the 13th century by Thomas the Archdeacon, which today represents one of the most important sources for the study of the history of Split and the entire territory of Dalmatia.

On the west, within the axis of the mausoleum, rises the small temple of Jupiter. The temple was originally rectangular in plan, with elevated flooring and six columns forming a portico on the east side. Neither the columns nor the portico have been preserved. The right side of the temple entrance is decorated with a sculpture of an Egyptian sphinx.

Sphinxes

In the Christian period the temple was transformed into the cathedral’s baptistery and its crypt into the miniature chapel of St. Thomas. The interior of the baptistery features the sarcophagus of Ivan Ravenjanin (i.e. John of Ravenna) , the founder of the new Salona archbishopric in Split, ornamented with relief motifs of lilies, as well as the sarcophagus of the archbishop Lovre (i.e. Lawrence) from the 11th century, who lead the church of Split during the period of Croatian rulers. The cross-shaped baptismal font was probably built in the 12th century and was obviously made of panels which used to be a part of an altar rail. The panels are richly ornamented with interlace patterns, and the most prominent among them features a relief of a pentagram and of birds eating grapes. Of equal artistic value is the stone panel from the 11th century on the frontal part of the baptismal font featuring a Croatian ruler on his throne. Based on the style of the relief, the panel is often associated with the Croatian ruler Dmitar Zvonimir. The baptistery also holds a bronze statue of St. John the Baptist from 1954, a late work of the famous sculptor Ivan Meštroviæ

Saint Domnius, the patron saint of Split, was born in Syria. According to the local tradition of the early medieval period, St. Domnius is believed to have been a disciple of St. Peter himself. According to historical facts, he was a Christian teacher and the first bishop of Salona who died as a martyr during Diocletian’s severe persecution of Christians at the end of the 3rd and beginning of the 4th century. He was buried in Solin. The former mausoleum of the Emperor Diocletian, which was meanwhile transformed into a Christian church, soon became known under his name.
 
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