Šibenik

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Šibenik is town of a county Šibenik – Knin that extends over 2994 km2. Population of Šibenik is 38 000 inhabitants. Šibenik has a special position among the cities of the Adriatic. Whereas Solin, Trogir, Hvar and Vis were originally Greek, then Roman and Byzantine before they became Croatian cities, $ibenik is a “new town”, built as a counterweight to Byzantine Dalmatia. Thus Sibenik is the oldest Croatian and Slavic city on the Adriatic although there are few traces of a settlement in this area from the time of the immigration of the Croatians. The city was mentioned for the first time in 1066 as “Castrum Sebenici” on the occasion of a visit to the city by the Croatian King Petar Kresimir 1V. At this time the medieval Croatian state was at the height of its power. After that however, gibenik remained only 50 years in an independent Croatian state for, in 1102, Croatia entered an alliance with Hungary. From that time on, Šibenik was for 243 years part of the state of Croatia-Hungary(1105-1116, 1124, 1133-1168, 1180-1322 and 1358-1412). During this time it received the rights of a municipality, and the status of city (1167), became the centre of a diocese (1298) and thus obtained the legal and political bases to become a well-developed economic, political and cultural centre in the 14th century.

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Juraj Dalmatinac came to Šibenik in 1441 from Venice at the urging of Bishop luraj Sizgoric. There are many indications that in Venice he worked with the Bon brothers on the portal of the Doge’s palace (Porta clella Carta). As Well as in Venice, he also worked in Ancona during the building of the cathedral in Šibenik, and in 1451 he designed the Merchants Loggia (Loggia dei Mercati) and the portal of S. Francesco delle Scale church. In his native country his Work includes ecclesia- stical, residential and defen- sive buildings (Minceta in Dubrovnik). He also worked on urban design (Pag). He realised great and harmo- nious architectural ideas, but he never overlooked the intricate details of fine moulded plastic work. He was a master of the Gothic style, but moved from Gothic to Renaissance, and in some of his compositions and figures he anticipated elements of the Baroque. He was a teacher. His pupils included Andrija Alesi and Andrija Budicic. He died in Šibenik in 1473 and his memorial was created by Ivan Mestrovic who came from the area around Šibenik (see Drniš), and was the greatest Croatian sculptor of the first half of the 20th century. The City Loggia was the seat of the City Council during the Venetian period. It was built between 1533 and l542. In the Second World War it was totally destroyed by bombing, but was restored after the war. The building is stylistically characteristic of the Sanmichelli school (Verona 1484-1559) and is considered to be the finest loggia in Dalmatia, with its impressive harmony, pillars, lions’ heads and balustrade.  Inside the cathedral there are four large, evenly matched columns on which the dome rests. The builder decorated the capitals and came to arrangements with the nobles who were to finance the building of chapels, on condition that they would be free to choose their own builders. luraj Dalmatinac, with tremendous skill, combined architectural and decorative elements of the late Gothic and the Renaissance to create a unified entity.

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ln 1477 the building work was taken over by Nikola Firentinac (?- Sibenik 1505), a foreigner from the Donatello school of sculpture, who developed as a sculptor and builder in Dalmatia and who is considered to be a Croatian artist. He was left with the task of completing the extensive galleries, building the vault in the central nave, placing the dome on the four completed columns and covering it with stone tiles. Master Nikola freely interpreted Juraj Dalmatinac’s plans, in the style of the Tuscan Renaissance. Although the dome of Sibenik Cathedral was built after the dome in Florence, Nikola Firentinac used an octagonal drum in its construction, before Bramante and Michelangelo, in its original function as the transition from the square base to the circular dome. The execution of the cupola was one of the supreme achievements of Renaissance architecture. Around the dome he placed statues of saints, which are his own work. The cathedral was not completed even in his lifetime, but finally by Bartolomeo da Mestre and his son Giacomo in 1536. Inside the cathedral, in the first chapel on the right-hand side, there is the sarcophagus of the bishop, humanist and writer Iuraj giigoric (c.1420-1509) which is the work of Andrija Alesi based on a design by Juraj Dalmatinac. Alesi also created the statue of St. Elijah which stands behind the bishop’s throne. On the left-hand side is the sarcophagus of Bishop Ivan gtafilié, during whose life the cathedral was completed.