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Cathedral of St. Anastasia 



Although the current Cathedral of St. Anastasia dates from the 12th and 13th centuries, it developed on the site of a Christian basilica constructed during the 4th and 5th centuries. Originally dedicated to St Peter, it changed to Saint Anastasia when it received her remains in the 9th century. A sarcophagus was commissioned for her remains, which are held in the cathedral.


The Roman Catholic Cathedral of Saint Anastasia is the largest church in Dalmatia and dates back to a Christian basilica constructed during the 4th and 5th centuries, although construction of the current building began in the 9th century, but developed during the 11th century, although much of the currently standing building was constructed in the Romanesque style during the 12th and 13th centuries. It was heavily damaged during the siege of Zadar in 1202 by the Venetians and Crusaders. For most of the 13th century, the building was under repair and was reconsecrated on 27 May 1285, with the façade being completed in 1324.

The bell tower dates from the 15th century and was built in two stages.

The ground floor and first floor were built in 1452, but it wasn’t until 1890 to 1894 that the upper floors were added. The three upper floors, with four sides, are decorated with double-mullioned windows. A flat wall surface is stylized with a floral mosaic, while the wreaths that separate floors are highlighted with fretwork. At the top is an octagonal pyramid with a brass statue of an angel, this acts as a wind vane. It remains the tallest building in Zadar to this day.

The Cathedral was originally dedicated to St Peter, but when it received the ashes of Saint Anastasia the cathedral took her as patron. A sarcophagus was commissioned for her ashes which are held in the cathedral.

The architectural style is Gothic and Romanesque, with the lower portion of the front façade being Romanesque while the upper part is Gothic. It contains three entrance portals with the central main one containing a bas-relief of the four apostles while above it is a bas-relief of Madonna and Child with Saints Chrysogonus and Anastasia.


A number of blind arches decorate the façade while at the top is a triangular pediment. The façade contains a large Romanesque-style rose window and a smaller one in Gothic style. The left edge of the façade is decorated with a statue of a lion and the right edge with a statue of a bull: these are symbols of the evangelists Mark and Luke, respectively. 


To the rear, on the South side of the cathedral is a hexagonal baptistery that dates from the 6th century, although the original baptistery was destroyed in the bombing of Zadar on December 16, 1943, and was rebuilt in 1989.

The interior has a central nave and two side aisles. These are separated by alternately arranged stone pillars and pylons.  Above the side aisles run a Matroneum, a gallery that was originally intended to accommodate women: The ceiling over the nave and the aisles is timber.


The main altar is elevated and above this is an early Gothic ciborium (a free-standing canopy or covering supported by columns) from 1322, while beyond it is a stone seat made for the archbishop. Located below this is the 12th-century crypt.  The choir stalls are in Gothic style made in the 15th century.  


In front of the Choir stalls to the left of the altar are the crucifix and a statue of the Virgin Mary.


On the side wall is an altar that holds the Tabernacle (which is the box that holds the Eucharist). Above the Tabernacle is the statue of the Madonna with the dead Christ lying in her lap.  On the sides of the Madonna are the Statues of Moses and Elijah. While larger statues of the four evangelists are placed at the side of the altar with figures of virtues below them. On the front of the altar is a ​​​​​​statue of the Lamb of God.


Along the side aisles are a number of additional altars

On June 9, 2003, the cathedral was visited by Pope John Paul II, which is commemorated with a plaque on the right-side aisle.


At the end of the left nave, in the apse, is the sarcophagus containing the ashes of St Anastasia.





              All  Photographs were taken by and are copyright of Ron Gatepain

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