Zagreb’s St. Mark’s Church in Mini-Europe

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Zagreb’s romantic Upper Town is the location of the Church of St. Mark, one of the oldest structures in the city, instantly recognizable by its roof decorated with two coats of arms – the coat of arms of the Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia, and the coat of arms of the city of Zagreb.

Built in the 13th century, the 36 meter long and 15.5 meter wide church is a three-naval edifice whose naves end in apsides. The window in the southern facade and the base of the bell tower are preserved from the first, Romanesque phase of construction. In the 14th century, when the church already had an organ, gothic arches and the shrine were built, as well as the most valuable part – the gothic portal on the southern side, the most valuable gothic portal in Croatia in terms of its figurative ornamentation. Also significant for the history of Zagreb is the city’s oldest coat of arms, dating from 1499, now located in the church’s north-western facade. The church was thoroughly renovated in the second half of the 19th century, according to drawings by Viennese architects Friedrich Schmidt and Hermann Bolle. That is when it got its unique roof, featuring the two emblematic coats of arms. It underwent another renovation in the first half of the 20th century, when its walls were decorated by famous painter Jozo Kljakovic, and when works by renowned Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrovic were added to the altars.

The church is located at St. Mark’s Square in the Upper Town, which also houses the buildings of the Croatian Parliament and the Banski Dvori palace, the seat of the government of the Republic of Croatia. Interestingly, St. Mark’s Church features heavily in photo albums of numerous newlyweds, who exchange their vows in the old city hall, and then have their photos taken at St. Mark’s Square, right in front of the church.

Due to all of that, the model of this beautiful church is now an exhibit in Mini-Europe in Brussels and an important contribution to European and Croatian past and present, as well as an intimate segment of everyday life in the newest EU member state and its capital city.

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