The Cathedral of St.Jacob – Šibenik

The cathedral of St. Jacob, situated in Šibenik is the most valuable architectural monument built during the 15th and the 16th century in Croatia. With its beauty, construction techniques and style characteristics it is the biggest and the most valuable object of the architectural heritage of the Town of Šibenik. It represents also a unique monument of the European sacral architecture. It is one of the most valuable European monumental cathedrals according to its artistic value and uniqueness. Also, the only cathedral in Europe built entirely of stone. No other materials (such as wood) were used. The cathedral of St. Jacob is well known for 74 head sculptures by Juraj Dalmatinac. It is considered to be the most numerous portrait gallery of the highest quality exhibited as the public monument on a sacral object in Europe. The Cathedral was constructed on the south side of the central square of the oldest town core, on the site of the former Romanesque church of St. Jacob. When Šibenik was given the status of a town in 13th century, the idea of a big Cathedral was born. The construction lasted for 105 years with interruptions, from 1431 until 1536. It first began in the Venetian Gothic style, and was finished in the Tuscan Renaissance style. The construction was first led by Venetian architects Francesco Giacomo, Antonio Busato and Lorenzo Pincino, but in 1441 Juraj Dalmatinac was appointed protomaster and worked on the construction until his death in 1475.  Juraj Dalmatinac changed the initial plan of the church, giving it monumental importance. After his death, the construction of the Cathedral was continued by Nikola Firentinac, this time in the pure Renaissance style. The cathedral still wasn’t finished after Firentinac so later the Venetian architects again took the lead. The Šibenik Cathedral is a three-naved basilica 38 metres long and 14 metres wide, and its highest point is on the top of the cupola (38 metres). It was consecrated in 1555 by bishop Ivan Štafilić. The baptistery inside is very interesting because of its original and creative synthesis of two different art – late Gothic and early Renaissance. The Cathedral represents the first finished architecture in Renaissance style constructed only 20 years after the real beginning of the Renaissance in Tuscany.