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Church of St Donatus



Constructed in the 8th/9th century on part of the Roman forum, the Church of Donatus is the largest pre-Romanesque church in Croatia.  
Circular in shape, which was typical of the early medieval age churches in Dalmatia, it stands 27 metres high. It ceased to be used as a church in the 14th century and was used as a warehouse, a use it was also put to in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today it is used as a concert venue.


Construction of the Church of Donatus was started in the second half of the 8th century by Donatus of Zadar, the then Bishop of the city who was later to become a saint. It was completed in the 9th century and given the name the Church of the Holy Trinity. It is the largest Pre-Romanesque (late 8th century, to the beginning of the 11th century) building in Croatia.

Built on the northeastern part of the Roman Forum, its construction used many of the materials taken from buildings that were found there. This includes the stone at the base of one of the supports.


Many of its original elements, which include two of its supporting pillars can also be seen, as can the slabs of the forum as the church floor has been removed.

Circular in shape, which was typical of the early medieval age in Dalmatia. It stands 27 metres high and was originally domed. 


It has three radially situated apses (a semicircular recess covered with a hemispherical vault or semi-dome) an ambulatory (the covered passage) around the central area, and a circular gallery above.


This is accessed by a stone circular stairway. 


The roof incorporates a timber ceiling.


Apart from its use as a church, it has, during the city’s occupation by the Venetians (1346-1358), French (1806-1809), and Austrians (1867–1918) been used as a warehouse and after the city became part of Yugoslavia it served as an archaeological museum for a short period of time. Today, due to its acoustics, it is used as a concert venue for the annual International Festival of Medieval Renaissance Music.



              All  Photographs were taken by and are copyright of Ron Gatepain

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