On the west side of the Kastela Bay area where the traces of civilization have been found dating from prehistoric times, on the island between the mainland and the island of Ciovo is situated in the town of Trogir.
The settlement was founded by Greeks from Syracuse in Sicily and traders from Issa in the 3rd century BC. Tragurion they named it after the Greek name for goat Tragos, as the nearby mountain Kozjak abounded in. A significant number of archaeological findings in this area are dated back to that time and are valuable for the reconstruction of the earliest phases of the oldest settlements in this part of Dalmatia.
Later phases of the ancient and medieval Trogir are much better preserved to the present time and they are the reason for listing the town of Trogir on the prestigious UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
The Roman municipality Tragurion was founded upon completion of the civil war between Pompey and Caesar, when Tragurion together with Issa ended up on the defeated side. Salona City was at the time the metropolis of the Roman province of Dalmatia, and in the early fourth century Christianity started to spread from Salona along the eastern Adriatic coast.
The cult of the Martyr Saint Dujam (St. Doimius) the first bishop of the church of Salona was particularly important, just like in the other cities in the area in Trogir the first Christians gathered in secret near the southern gate of the town, at the location where the monastery and church of st. Nicholas are located today.
In the seventh century Dalmatia, and consequently, Trogir and Kastela Bay were inhibited by the Croats. Salona was destroyed, the Croats built a village on the opposite bank of the river Jadro, but also in the vicinity of Trogir, in Bijaci. This is where the first written documents of Croatian rulers have been recorded, such as documents of Prince Trpimir, from the year 852nd. City of Trogir, like the other Mediterranean and Dalmatian towns of that time was a multiethnic and multicultural community where the Croatian element along with Illyrian, Greek and Roman eventually becomes dominant.
The town, situated on an island, protected by sea and the walls during the Middle Ages, was a suitable location for a successful defense from the enemy given the weaponry and strategy of warfare of that time.
Many important monuments from the period of the reign of Croatian rulers and from the Romanesque period have been preserved in the city and its surroundings. However, Trogir recorded its peak in the thirteenth, fourteenth and fifteenth century and the most important buildings, churches and monasteries in the city date back to that time.
The construction of the Trogir Cathedral of St. Lovre (St. Lawrence) in the main city square started in the year 1200. The relatively poor medieval commune built the facility in the Romanesque style for a full of one hundred years, and the build of the bell tower took another one hundred years. The tower shows transition from the Romanesque to the Gothic style, and the last story was finished in the Renaissance style. A masterpiece of the Romanesque sculpture in Croatia is the Radovan’s portal at the entrance to the cathedral, finished in 1240th. The Romanesque cathedral exudes mysticism and on the left side of its interior is another important part of Croatian heritage, the most important Renaissance monument in Dalmatia: the Chapel of Blessed Ivan Orsini. The authors of the masterpiece, Nicolo Firentinac, Andrija Alesi and Ivan Duknovic had the Temple of Jupiter in the Diocletian’s Palace as the model, while the shape and dimensions of the chapel pay tribute to the ancient roots of architecture in this area. In the middle of the nave hangs a crucifix, painted in 1440th by Blaz Jurjev, the most important painter of the 15th century in Dalmatia.
The town has preserved several important churches and monasteries from the pre-Romanesque, Romanesque and the Gothic period and the large number of palaces and municipal buildings, forts and towers. But of particular interest is the urban grid of the medieval planned town with the main square where the cathedral and city hall stand together. In other medieval cities the cathedral is usually located on one square and town hall on the second square, but in Trogir these two objects stand at the same square, next to each other. The building of city hall today, seven centuries after its first mention still serves the same function.
The stone that was used to built the whole city comes from a nearby quarry, still functioning since ancient times.
The streets, houses and palaces in the city are a typical example of traditional architecture of Dalmatia. Local institutions that care for the preservation of heritage, they control all activities related to reconstruction and adaptation of certain facilities on the island and in the city that truly is a jewel of medieval architecture.