Church of St. Donatus

Church of Saint Donatus
Crkva svetog Donata
Location Zadar, Croatia
Country  Croatia
Denomination Roman Catholic
Former name(s) Church of the Holy Trinity
Founded 9th century
Founder(s) Donatus of Zadar
Style early Byzantine[1]

The Church of St. Donatus is a church located in Zadar, Croatia. Its name refers to Donatus of Zadar, who began construction on this church in the 9th century and ended it on the northeastern part of the Roman forum.[2] Originally named Church of the Holy Trinity,[3] in the 15th century it was re-dedicated to St. Donatus.[4]

The church of St. Donatus is the largest Pre-romanesque building in Croatia. It is also an example of the centralised type of the Carolingian period in Europe.


The beginning of the building of the Church of St. Donatus was placed to the second half of the 8th century, and it is supposed to be completed in the 9th century. The Zadar bishop and diplomat Donat (8th and 9th centuries) is credited with the building of the church. He led the representations of the Dalmatian cities to Constantinople and Charles the Great, which is why this church bears slight resemblance to Charlemagne's court chapels, especially the one in Aachen (now Aachen Cathedral),[5] and also to the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna.[6] It belongs to the Pre-Romanesque architectural period.

The circular church, formerly domed, is 27 m high and is characterised by simplicity and technical primitivism. It has three radially situated apses and an ambulatory around the central area, surmounted by circular gallery. The circular shape is typical of the early medieval age in Dalmatia.[1] It was built on the Roman forum, and materials from buildings in the latter were used in its construction.[7] Among the fragments which are built into the foundations it is still possible to distinguish the remains of a sacrificial altar on which is written IVNONI AVGUSTE IIOVI AVGUSTO.[5]

The use of the church has varied during its lifetime; during the rule of the Republic of Venice it was a warehouse, as well as during the French occupation and under the Austrians. After the city was annexed to Yugoslavia, it served as an archaeological museum for a short period of time. The building is currently used as the concert venue for the annual International Festival of Medieval Renaissance Music, also known as Musical Evenings in St. Donatus, because of its interior and acoustics.[8]

See also


  1. 1 2 - Church of Saint Donat
  2. (Croatian) Arheološki Muzej Zadar - Sveti Donat
  3. InYourPocket - Essential Zadar
  4. (Croatian) - Crkva sv.Donat
  5. 1 2 Radovinovič, Radovan (1998). The Croatian Adriatic. Zagreb: Naklada Naprijed. p. 164. ISBN 953-178-097-8.
  6. Raos, Ivan (1969). Adriatic tourist guide. Zagreb: Spektar. p. 80. OCLC 112865.
  7. Cvitanic, Marilyn (2010). Culture and Customs of Croatia (Culture and Customs of Europe). Greenwood; 1st ed. p. 200. ISBN 978-0-313-35117-4.
  8. Official site of the Donat musical evenings


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Further reading

Coordinates: 44°6′56.96″N 15°13′28.11″E / 44.1158222°N 15.2244750°E / 44.1158222; 15.2244750

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