One of the most prominent landmarks in Split, the cathedral of Saint Domnius amazes numerous tourists from around the world. Located in the town’s centre, it stood the test of time for centuries. When you find yourself in Split, do not hesitate to visit the amazing monument that is the Cathedral of Saint Domnius and climb its bell tower, if you feel adventurous and aren’t afraid of heights!

The parts and the history of the Cathedral of Saint Domnius

The history of the cathedral of Saint Domnius (Croatian: katedrala svetog Duje or katedrala svetog Dujma) actually has its origins and is connected to the history of Diocletian’s Palace. Moreover, the cathedral, apart from the belltower, consists of repurposed and renovated parts of the palace. The people of Salona, who found shelter in the walls of Diocletian’s Palace after their town was razed around the 7th century, replaced pagan monuments and buildings with Christian ones.

The octagonal church part of the cathedral of Saint Domnius was once the Diocletian’s Mausoleum. Somewhere around the 7th century, the remains of saints Domnius and Anastasius were brought to Split from Salona and what was once a mausoleum was officially turned into the church.  While the cathedral is known to be dedicated to Saint Domnius, one of the last martyrs persecuted by Diocletian, the church is actually dedicated to Virgin Mary and the bell tower to St Domnius

Inside of the Saint Domnius cathedral in Split, Croatia.

The Romanesque walnut doors of the church have two door wings carved with 28 scenes representing the life of Christ, which were made by a local sculptor and painter Andrija Buvina. Inside, there is the main altar in Baroque style, but also St Domnius’ and St Anastasius’ altars, one on the right and the other one on the left side of the main altar. In the Baroque period, the eastern part of the church was expanded to fit the choir area which holds the carved wooden choir-stalls dating back to the beginning of the thirteenth century.

What was the Temple of Jupiter in Diocletian era, became the Christian baptistry dedicated to St John the Baptist. The baptistry contains a mediaeval baptismal font and two sarcophagi of Split’s archbishops, as well as the statue of Saint John the Baptist made by the famous Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović in mid-twentieth century.

The Treasury of Split holds a collection of golden artefacts like chalices and reliquaries and other religious works of art, such as Romanesque painting of the Madonna and Child, dating from the thirteenth century. Valuable historic books are also kept here. For example, Splitski evangelijar or Splitski evanđelistar, a book of gospels and the oldest preserved manuscript (codex) in Croatia as well as Historia Salonitana, the historic book of the people of Salona, written by Thomas the Archdeacon (Toma Arhiđakon), one of the greatest Croatian historiographers.

The Crypt of St Lucy, located under the cathedral, is a small crypt with a chapel dedicated to St Lucy, the patron saint of the blind and one of the martyrs who died under Diocletianic persecution. Every year on St Lucy’s Day, 13th December, the mass is held in the chapel.

Bell tower of Saint Domnius cathedral in Split from the outside.

The Bell Tower of St Domnius is the symbol of the town of Split. The bell tower is about 60 metres high and was built throughout around three centuries, which is visible in different styles of its floors. While it is considered to be Romanesque, it is actually a combination of Romanesque and Gothic styles. The reconstruction in the beginning of the 20th century left the bell tower without many Romanesque sculptures, but some of them can be seen in the Split City Museum.

View of the Saint Domnius church and bell tower in Split.

What can you do and see in the Cathedral of Saint Domnius?

The cathedral is open to visitors, but the entrance fee is required. The cathedral complex consists of the church, the bell tower, treasure, baptistry and the crypt and you can visit all of the landmarks or just some of them. The prices of the tickets are different, depending on the chosen parts. The most popular options are the ones that include climbing the bell tower, from which you get a beautiful view of Split and its surroundings. 

The view from the bell tower Saint Domnius in Split.

Where to stay in Split? 

If you want to find accommodation near the cathedral, it means that you have to find it in the crowded centre of the town that is often booked months in advance. However, once you do, not only will you be close to many restaurants and bars, you will be a few minutes walking distance from the Cathedral of Saint Domnius and other remains of the Diocletian Palace! Check the availability of these luxury rooms nearby, where you will be able to properly rest after climbing the tower and exploring the rest of the town!

Luxury room with a window view of Saint Domnius Split.

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