Red tiled roofs along the coast and ancient stone houses are characteristic features of Croatian architecture. Croatia bestows elements of Romanesque, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture. Few of these can be witnessed in the ancient city of Trogir. The St Lawrence Cathedral boasts of its front gate built in Romanesque style. Its chapel, which consists of the coffin of St John Trogir, the local priest, built in Renaissance style in the 15th century. The city today shows off exemplary monuments and sites as you walk around the towns. One of which is the Palace of Diocletian in Split. The vast palace complex—7.5 acres (3.04 hectares) in size—was built of local marble and limestone. The fortress-like structure was a part military garrison, part imperial residence. It encompasses three temples, an impressive mausoleum, and a monumental colonnaded courtyard, sections of which have survived for more than 1,500 years. 

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Architecture History | Architecture in Croatia

Blatantly, the architecture in Croatia has been testimony to its evolving political and geographical timeline. Post the Second World War, 14,000 spomeniks were built to pay homage to the fights and resistances against fascism and nazism. When the country broke apart from Yugoslavia in one of the bloodiest wars in history, it adopted socialist realism architecture consisting of identical concrete panels rolled out on vast production lines. These various housing blocks highlight a utopian futuristic vision. 

Residential havens in Zagreb flaunt modernism in architecture. They present an array of structures proportioned with concrete, marble, and glass and monumental concrete columns breaking up the facade- observed in the Open University Building and Super Andrija respectively. Not just this, what captivates the pedestrians on the streets of Zagreb are the Zagreb Rockets and The Mammoth, serving as astounding evidence of the Brutalism architecture born in the past. The subterranean parking, the interconnected walkways, built to exclude anyone over six feet; and the bunkered down staircases keeping guard over the south end are mere features of the former, while the Mammoth is a residential block holding nearly 5000 people. 

World Heritage Sites 

One would now find that Croatia’s emerging generation of architects has been re-exploring modern approaches and applying them to suit the needs of the country today. The recent hotels and museums in Croatia vouch for a similar narrative. Croatia alone is home to 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites which attract more than ten million tourists every year. One of these is the majestic city of Dubrovnik. According to local blogs,  it is a medieval city with a medieval infrastructure, street network, and – most important – medieval city walls. On the other hand, most of its public spaces and public buildings are examples of the Baroque. The reason is that most of the buildings that we see today in Dubrovnik were built after the great earthquake of 1667. The earthquake destroyed almost everything, only the walls remaining almost untouched, being of such massive and solid construction. After the great earthquake, almost the entire town was rebuilt and Dubrovnik is not one of those cities with a particular unified style. The Euphrasian Basilica of Porec is another site that is a complex of buildings in the old town of Porec. The atrium, a beautiful open-air courtyard, has columns that were brought from Istanbul.

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The fifth-century baptistery, which was built but is now dilapidated, owing to its age. It may have been brightly ornamented at various points throughout history, but right now it’s pretty subdued. On the first floor of Bishop’s Palace, the lapidary houses an amazing collection. Some of the ancient mosaics from the floor from the fourth and fifth century are still preserved here. A stone throne from the early ninth century can also be found here, along with an altar that houses the relics of Saints Mavro and Eleutherius. You will at last enter the Euphrasian Basilica. The suggested tour has saved the finest for last because this is without a doubt the highlight. For something that was built in the 6th century It is amazing that it only seen minimal upgrades through the years. Three naves and three apes are thought to be a first for a church in the Western Hemisphere. But then, take a good look at these mosaic accents. These characteristics are what make the basilica so important and the best representation of this era’s art and architecture.

Croatia, safe to say, has moved way beyond where it began. Recent times have seen it evolve, as a country, and the same is reflected through its architecture evolution. The Croatian architecture now, is a palimpsest of  the previous times and the present, it shares the story of the land and soil its in as well as the people who put it together.