Trogir – marked by masters
Trogir is considered to be one of the smallest town-islands, rich with history and host to a large number of monuments within its walls.
The city of Trogir has a 3000-year history dating back to the Ancient Greeks and the Adriatic Sea colonisation. Its streets, walls, and local traditions speak of a turbulent, rich, and unique history.
Recognised by UNESCO and listed as a world heritage site since 1997, Trogir is a small gem on the Adriatic Coast, still living and cherishing its 2-millennia long story.
It is a city of masters, noblemen and ice cream!
Fertile land and marble
As Greeks from a nearby Issa colony set to explore the seas, they stumbled upon an islet, naturally protected and hidden between the mainland and another island.
Named after a nearby mountain Kozjak, Traguriun was an important stronghold surrounded by fertile land and white marble quarries. The most famous relic of this era is a relief showing Kairos, the god of happy moments.
Found by accident under the Benedictine monastery in 1928, Kairos is visible proof of its prosperous Greek period.
Once Romans took over the province of Dalmatia in the 1st century, Trogir became a municipality that was joined to a bigger Roman city Salona. The town maintained its independence and could develop freely.
Trogir used Greek infrastructure, streets, and the main square for centuries, expanding its territory to the hills in the surrounding area.
The arrival of Croats in the 7th century marked a change in administration and the arrival of new manufacturers to the area, starting trade of mostly wine with nearby towns and villages.
Attacked by Venetians, the people of Trogir found protection under the Hungarian king in the 10th century, which granted autonomy and opened possibilities of trade and rapid expansion.
The town became a construction site, walls were erected, and new buildings were constructed. People could elect their leaders and, for the first time, were able to have bishops. The most famous and patron saint of the town is St. Ivan Ursini.
Reborn from the ashes
Saint Ivan Ursini was the bishop of Trogir during a very turbulent period. The town was under siege by a Hungarian King, Koloman and thanks to the bishop’s clever negotiation, he saved the town from destruction.
Many legends and tales were told about the bishop, claiming he had divine power, especially in his hands. Legend says that after his death in 1111, his hands were stolen by Venetians but miraculously flew over the sea back to Trogir, and that is when he became the patron saint.
The following centuries saw many raids from Saracens and Venetians that led to the town’s destruction and what is left are the iconic Radovan portal, at the entrance to the Cathedral, and the oldest pharmacy in Europe, dating back to the 13th century.
Once Venetians took over, they stayed in the city until their fall in 1797, which is marked as the golden age of the town. Many say this was when Trogir was reborn from the ashes.
The new era marked the arrival of noble families from Venice, using Trogir as the second most important trading port after Split. The Venetian period mainly influenced the architecture and lifestyle of people in Trogir.
Replicating the walls of Dubrovnik, Trogir got a brand new fortification system, out of which today are visible main entrances, monumental southern fortress Kamerlengo, and a small fort St Mark.
This is the period when Venetians invested most of the town’s budget into the expansion of the main square. Local records tell us of upgrades to the Cathedral, as well as construction of the city hall and courthouse.
As noble families gained their wealth, they quickly followed with the expansion of their luxurious palazzos. The most impressive ones are those on the main square, a complex belonging to the family Ćipiko.
Following the fall of the Venetian empire, the town of Trogir changed administration almost as quickly as seasons. From Napoleon to the Austrian-Hungarian empire and ultimately surviving two world wars, the city never saw such development as it did in the Venetian era.
Today, many locals will say they nicknamed it little Venice, as the Venetian presence is visible in every corner when visiting Trogir.
What to see?
Located only 30 km from Split, exploring Trogir is a must when in the area. With incredible architecture, traditional taverns, old manufacturer’s stores, and far fewer crowds than surrounding cities, Trogir is a hidden gem worth seeing.
Connected with two bridges to the mainland, arriving at Trogir either by car or bus is the easiest form of transport. Entering the old town from the main north gate is the best way, as the town has an original Greek street layout.
The labyrinth of streets takes visitors around, and it is quite usual that you will encounter people seeking help, trying to find their way out.
This is the city’s very charm, getting lost in the streets, as every alley tells another story. Noblemen’s street, with many luxurious palazzos and gigantic coat of arms visible above entrances, reveals the town’s rich history. The streets are full of colourful stands and interesting shops, so one might spend hours wandering the alleys.
Trogir is a relatively small island, and alleys guide visitors towards the waterfront very quickly. This is a place where history meets everyday life.
On one side, monumental fortress Kamerlengo dominates the skyline, telling Venice’s charming story of ruling the city once.
The waterfront, known as Riva today is home to many local cafes and restaurants, palm trees, and a place where locals come to catch up on local rumours, do business or discuss important city events over a cup of coffee.
Walking down the Riva, visitors can reenter the city’s walls through the south gate. Alleys covered in slippery cobblestone continue in a famous Greek labyrinth, revealing ancient sewage systems and charming medieval homes, where the same families lived for generations over the past two thousand years.
Finally, all streets connect to a central square that tells the story of the Golden Era. The monumental Cathedral of St. Lawrence with the belltower is the dominant building, ideal for climbing for the bravest ones.
The Cathedral’s highlight is the main entrance, also the oldest part of the structure, where local artist Radovan’s masterpiece from the 13th century surrounds the door. It is considered to be the most beautiful portal of a religious building from that period.
The square is also home to a grand loggia, a Venetian type of open-type court where all critical decisions were made, with still visible original furniture and carvings.
Moving away from the square, the street returns to the starting point, showing the town-island’s actual miniature size.
This is a great opportunity to proceed towards the local market, home to many vendors that sell handmade goods, and ideal for picking up some souvenirs.
Don’t forget to join the big international gelato competition. According to a few gelato-makers in the town, Trogir, along with many Venetian elements, has the original and secret gelato recipe. Every visitor is invited to taste a scoop and give their verdict as they claim their victory.
The city of masters
The town is full of colours, artists, and manufacturers that will gladly present their work. For centuries families were in the same business and today take great pride in presenting their work to the public. This was recognised as Trogir’s forte.
The Tourist board of Trogir in 2019 started a branding campaign with a new visual identity. The goal is to present local traditions, ancient symbols, and local manufacturers through the work of great masters of the past that formed the town as we see it today.