One of the World’s Smallest Churches



Inside the tiny church


Outside the Gold Gate


Inner walls at Gold Gate

(My apologies to everyone for the longish break in posting here. Our holiday season was hectic, but fun, with extended family and no free time!)

Split: A wonderfully evocative space

In the north walls, not far from the Gold Gate is the Church of St Martin, tiny and not so well-known, but not to be missed. It’s a little church literally between the walls. I think it’s the smallest church we’ve ever seen, set in a passageway between the outer and inner walls. To get there, you need to climb up some steep narrow open steps.

Only a few people can be in there at one time. It’s still “manned” by a nun—we paid her 5kn per person to get closer, but you could just look and take a picture from the entrance. From the 14th century there was a Dominican convent next to the church.


Stained-glass window near bottom of stairs to church


Plaque on stairs going up to the church


That’s the church!

That space, in the time of the emperor Diocletian (284-305AD) was a narrow corridor (10m x 1.64m) that was used as a guardhouse and sentries’ walkway. The guards used the small windows, which are still well-preserved, to survey anyone entering the palace.

The church originates from the 5th and 6th centuries but was remodeled many times. In the time of the Croatian Duke Trpimir in the 9th century, the Duke’s chaplain, the priest Dominic, renovated it into the first Christian church in Split dedicated to the Virgin Mary, to St Gregory the Pope, and to St Martin, the father of western monasticism.

It was used by the sisters from the Monastery of the Dominican Sisters of the Third Order, until around 1372 when all had to flee from the plague. It became a storage room until 1890, when archeologist Father Franc Bulic found it. He recommended its renovation, so they built a new altar and nave. Later in 1929, a tablet was discovered, which people think might be the gravestone of the priest Dominic, its builder.


Early Romanesque chancel screen


Note the inscription


On the stairs going up to the church

This little church is important for the valuable Early Romanesque chancel screen of the 11th century preserved in situ. The inscription on the screen tells of the dedication of this church to the Virgin, to St Gregory the Pope and to St Martin.


About viviennemackie

Avid traveler, travel writer and photographer. In an earlier life I was a psychologist, but now am an ESL teacher. Very interested in multiculturalism, and how travel can expand one's horizons, understanding and tolerance.
This entry was posted in architecture, church, Croatia, history, Split, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s