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SAINT ANASTASIA´S CATHEDRAL


The biggest cathedral in Dalmatia. Its oldest parts are an early Christian basilica, but its present Romanesque appearance was shaped in the 12th century. During the crusaders´ siege and conquest of the city in 1202, the Cathedral was damaged, but later it was reconstructed and made longer.



The façade, completed in 1324, has two orders: the lower and more massive one has three portals, the central one being crowned by a bas-relief of Madonna and Child with Sts. Crisogonus and Anastasia; the upper one culminates in a triangular pediment, and is decorated with four orders of Lombard bands. These include a large Romanesque-style rose window and a smaller, Gothic-style oculus. The left edge of the façade is decorated with a statue of a lion, while the right one is decorated with a statue of a bull: these are symbols of the evangelists Mark and Luke, rspectively. The richly decorated main portal contains a basrelief of the four apostles. The lunette of the left portal is decorated with a statue of the mystical lamb, while the consoles near the vault contains statues of angel Gabriel and Virgin Mary, which are older than the portal.

The interior has a nave and two aisles, the former three times larger than the latter, which are separated by alternately arranged stone pillars and pylons. The presbytery is elevated; the 12th century crypt is located under it. In the presbytery are choir stalls, executed in Gothic style by 15th century master Matej Morozan; above the main altar is the early Gothic ciborium from 1322, while beyond it is stone seat made for the Archbishop. On the northern wall of the marble altar are pictures of St. Dominic and Sacred Heart. The altar was transferred from the eponymous church. The second altar is dedicated to the souls of Purgatory and was built by the Venetian stonemason Peter Onega in 1805. The altarpiece is a work of art by Josip Palma Jr. At the end of the nave is a marble altar with a marble paneling depicting the Sacred Heart, while the apse houses a marble sarcophagus with the relics of St. Anastasia with the inscription by Bishop Donat (9th century). There are also fragments of medieval frescoes in the Cathedral.

The southern aisle is home to a marble altar used for storing relics. Next to it is the altar of St. Sacrament, work by sculptor A. Viviani from the year 1718. The altar has rich decorations with columns and statues. Above the tabernacle is the statue of Madonna with the dead Christ lying in her lap, with statues of Moses and Elijah on the sides. On the alter wings there are larger statues of the four evangelists, and, below them, figures of virtues and, on an antependium, a statut of the Lamb of God. The southern aisle ends with an apse housing remains of frescoes. Above the aisles is a matroneum.

The church has a hexagonal baptistery that dates back to the 6th century, located on the south side of the cathedral. The original baptistery was destroyed in the bombing of Zadar of December 16, 1943, and was restored in 1989.

The walls and the apse of the sacristy, also known as the chapel of St. Barbara, belong to the oldest parts of the Cathedral, along with the floor mosaic depicting two deers (early 5th century).


The bell tower was built in two stages. The ground floor and first floor were built in 1452 during the reign of Archbishop Vallaresso, while the upper floors date from 1890 to 1894 under design by the English architect and art historian Thomas Graham Jackson. 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 a fretwork. At the top is an octagonal pyramid with a brass statue of an angel which rotates according to the direction of the wind. 


The Life of St. Anastasia:

During the rule of the Emperor Diocletian (3-4th century) and his cruel persecution of the Christians, a young girl from a respectable patrician´s house was married to the Roman patrician Publius. Her fate would be no difference from the fate of other women who lived in arranged marriages without love, had she not meet and become delighted with the "new" idea of love and faith of a Roman knight - later the martyr St. Chrysogonus. 

Due to her desire for virginity and accepting the "new pagan faith", she was long locked away in the house. After her husband´s death, she joined St. Chrysogonus and went to Aquileia, where they visited the prisoners and tortured Christians, and there, unfortunately, she was present for his martyrdom. According to the legend, she died a martyr´s death in her hometown of Sirmium, and her head was cut off and her body cast into the sea near the Italian island of Palmaria. Relics found in the 5th century were taken to Constantinople and in 804, the Frank Bishop Donat of Zadar received them from Emperor Nicifore I as a sign of reconciliation between Byzantium and Zadar. 


The episcopal complex in Zadar along with the Cathedral of St.Anastasia is on the Tentative List proposed for inscription in the UNESCO World Heritage List.



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