The Stone Beauty

By Anastasia Mills Healy

The word “Trogir” sounds like the name of a fearsome Tolkien troll king and its ancient Greek meaning, “isle of goats,” does it no favors either. But the Croatian town of Trogir enchants visitors with its small island charm and meticulously preserved buildings that tell its 2,300-year history.

The Greeks first settled this island in the third century B.C.E. and its nearly uninterrupted human occupation since, with architectural vestiges from many eras of rule (including Roman, Byzantine, Venetian and Austro-Hungarian), earned this delightful spot a place on the UNESCO World Heritage list. It is unusual to find a gathering of Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings, all beautifully maintained, within such a small radius. But Trogir is not only remarkable for its edifices: urban planners are fascinated by how the streets still follow their original grid and that its two main roads have been in use since the town began.

Trogir city view

Meander through Trogir’s narrow, winding streets, lined with churches and palaces. Of particular note is the main square with its medieval loggia and clock tower, the graceful façade of Cipko Palace and the pièce de resistance, St. Lawrence Cathedral.  The cathedral’s western door is an outstanding Romanesque work by the famous Croatian architect and sculptor Radovan. Study his masterful carvings: scenes from the Nativity, the life of Christ, and Adam and Eve on either side of the door, both perched on lions.

After exploring the highlights of Trogir, linger over a coffee, an ice cream or a lunch of freshly caught fish at one of the cafes dotting the waterfront promenade. As you sit back and admire the homes and streets built from ancient sun-soaked stones, with their exquisite architectural details, you will understand why locals call Trogir “The Stone Beauty.”

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