Trogir is a charming city situated on a small island about 30 minutes up the coast from the city of Split. It falls under the group of European ‘old cities’ that would be worth visiting even if they would not have world heritage status.
While founded as a Greek colony, there is nothing left of the original Greek city save for the layout of the town. The Greeks of Issa (now Vis) first settled here in the 3rd century BC. Today the remaining buildings are of a medieval or Renaissance origin. In 1997 Trogir became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Trogir is an excellent example of a medieval town built on and conforming with the layout of a Hellenistic and Roman city. It has conserved its urban fabric to an exceptional degree and with the least of modern interventions, where the trajectory of social and cultural development is visible in every aspect of the panorama.
The city is a remarkable example of urban continuity. The right-angled street plan of this island settlement dates back to the Hellenistic period. Successive rulers beautified it with much fine public and domestic buildings and fortifications. Outstanding Renaissance and Baroque buildings from the Venetian period complement its beautiful Romanesque churches.
Greek colonists founded the ancient town of Tragurion as a trading settlement from the island of Vis in the 3rd century BC on an islet at the western end of the bay of Manios, in a strait between the mainland and one of the Adriatic islands. A small settlement existed here already.
Megalithic walls enclosed the Hellenistic town. Its streets had a Hippodamian grid plan. The line of the present main street still follows the ancient one. The town flourished in the Roman period and gained the status of a town. During the late Roman period, extension and re-fortification work took place. Extensive Roman cemeteries surfaced, and a basilica came in place in one of these.
The plan of contemporary Trogir reflects the Hellenistic layout in the location, dimensions, and shapes of its residential blocks. The two ancient main streets, the cardio, and the decumanus, are still in use, and paving of the forum appeared during excavations at their intersection.
Ancient Tragurion lies at the eastern end of the islet. This spread out in the earlier medieval period. The medieval suburb of Pasike developed to the west on a different alignment and the later fortifications enclosed it. The port was on the south side. Finally, the massive Venetian fortifications incorporated the Genoese fortress known as the Camerlengo.
St Lawrence Cathedral Trogir
Construction of the Cathedral of St Lawrence began around 1200. It's built on the site of an earlier basilica and dominates the main square. This protracted period of construction has meant that successive architectural styles. Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance are all represented.
It's a three-aisled basilica, each of the aisles terminating in an apse. Inside the porch at the west end is the baptistery. Of the many aristocratic palaces the Cipico Palace, facing the west end of the cathedral, is the most outstanding. It consists of a complex of structures covering an entire town block.
Most of it dates back to the 13th century. But incorporated in it are some elements of buildings from the late Roman period. During the 15th century, the owner brought in the three most celebrated artists of the period to embellish its facade and interior.
Throughout the town, and in particular, around the ramparts, are the palaces of other leading families. Many of these arise from the foundations of late classical or Romanesque structures and are in all styles from Gothic to Baroque.