Church of St. Donatus, Zadar

Church of St. Donatus, Zadar (must see)

Close by the Bell Tower of Zadar Cathedral is the 8th century, Pre-Romanesque Church of Saint Donatus. Donatus of Zadar, active in the 8th and 9th centuries, wore three hats. He was a saint, bishop, and diplomat. He led delegations of Dalmatia to Constantinople and the court of Charles the Great, and he built the church.

The church was originally dedicated to the Holy Trinity. It was rededicated to Donatus in the 15th century. The building bears some resemblance to the court chapels of Charlemagne and the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna. It is almost primitive in its Pre-Romanesque plainness.

The 89-foot high central cylindrical structure is enclosed by three radially placed apses and an ambulatory. The overall circular shape is characteristic of early medieval Dalmatia. The church was built over the old Roman forum, using material from the forum remains.

Structured as a cylinder within a cylinder, the outer wall of the church connects with the inner, creating a gallery. The inner structure has a conical roof held by six pilasters and two Roman columns from the forum. The theme of the Holy Trinity is shown in the three apses and three doorways on the west, north, and south sides.

The Church of St. Donatus has had several non-church employments. During the regnum of Venice, it served as a warehouse. In the French occupation, it continued as a warehouse. Under the Austrians as well, it was a warehouse. While the city was part of Yugoslavia, it was an archeological museum. Now it is a concert venue. The acoustics are great.

The Church of St. Donatus is one of the very few buildings to have survived the Mongol invasions of the 13th century. Perhaps the Mongols were reminded of their homes on the steppes by the shape of the building. It looks vaguely like a cross between a yurt and a grain elevator. That being said, it is an important cultural relic.

Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Zadar. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from Apple App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

Download The GPSmyCity App

Church of St. Donatus on Map

Sight Name: Church of St. Donatus
Sight Location: Zadar, Croatia (See walking tours in Zadar)
Sight Type: Religious
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Zadar, Croatia

Create Your Own Walk in Zadar

Create Your Own Walk in Zadar

Creating your own self-guided walk in Zadar is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
Zadar's Architecture Walking Tour

Zadar's Architecture Walking Tour

Zadar's architecture is a tapestry woven with the threads of Roman, Byzantine, and medieval influences, each contributing to a rich and vibrant heritage. Indeed, as you walk the streets of Zadar, you can't help noticing a plethora of ancient buildings reflecting the varied cultural influences imposed on the city over the centuries.

This part of Croatia’s Dalmatian coast has been...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.2 Km or 0.7 Miles
Zadar Introduction Walking Tour

Zadar Introduction Walking Tour

Ancient Zadar presides over a spacious harbor from a rocky promontory once separated from the mainland by a deep moat. In 59 BC, it was decreed a municipality by none other than Julius Caesar. Germanic tribes, Byzantines, Slavs, Franks, and Ottomans, had all ruled the area at one time and left their marks. Venice ruled Zadar from 1409 to 1797.

Zadar Old Town is best explored on foot. Begin at...  view more

Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.6 Km or 1 Miles