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Church of Saint John the Baptist Aka Temple of Jupiter (Split)









Description of The Church of Saint John the Baptist Aka Temple of Jupiter

The Church of Saint John the Baptist was originally constructed as a pagan temple to Roman god Jupiter. In the fourth century the temple was converted to a Christian Church. Many bishops of the city were buried here. Statue of the patron saint of the church was made by Ivan Mestrovic.  It is located in the western part of Diocletian's Palace, close to Peristyle, the central square of the Imperial Complex. It was built at the end of the 3rd century, at the time of the building of the Emperor's palace, and probably already in the 6th century it was dedicated to the baptistery of St. John the Baptist. Just before the entrance to the temple there is one of the twelve sphinxes brought from Egypt under the orders of Emperor Diocletian.




Jupiter's temple was built from 295 to 305 AD, as part of the palace of Emperor Diocletian. It was probably dedicated to the supreme Roman goddess and Diocletian's divine father Jupiter. The temple is located west of the central part of the palace, which was a religious part, and which was accompanied by a solemn approach. Since Diocletian abdicated from the throne in 305 and arrived from Nicomedia at the palace, the final works on the extermination of the palace were interrupted, so the parts of the temple remained unfinished. During the late antiquity and the Middle Ages, the temple was converted into a bishopric dedicated to St. John the Baptist, and the crypt is devoted to St. Thomas.

In the 13th century, the baptismal chapel was built inside the baptistery, made of parts of the 11th century altar-block which was originally located in the cathedral. On one of the marble panels, the oldest representation of the Croatian king, Krešimir IV, was engraved. or Zvonimir. Inside, two sarcophagi were preserved in which were buried the Archbishop of Split, Ivan II. (10th century) and Lovro († 1099). Inside there is the great Mestrovic bronze statue of St. John the Baptist.

The vault of the temple influenced Dalmatian early Renaissance art, which is best seen in the example of Alešije's baptistery and chapel of St. Ivan in Trogir. In the 11th century an early Romanesque belfry was built in the 11th century, similar to the one still found in the church of Our Lady of Zvonik on the Iron Gate, which was removed around 1840 in accordance with the then classicist aspirations that advocated the purification of ancient monuments and buildings.

In 1907 several houses were removed from the west and south sides, so that the temple is now freed from the suburb, except the one in the northwest corner where one house is still leaning. In these years fillings were completed and reconstruction of the cement mortar surface.




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