Sunday, 22 October was unexpectedly sunny. The weather channel had been calling for rain for the entire weekend. But when we got up Sunday, it was clear and the weather channel said it was clear all day. We needed to get out of the house for an adventure. With no pre-planning we decided to stick close to home and headed to Marjan Park for a different route than we had taken before.
We parked on the south side of Marjan as far in as we could drive and then we walked up towards The Church of St. Jerolim for our first stop. St. Jerolim was built in the 15th century in the place of the church of St. Cyriak. It is a medieval church built on the Southern slopes of Marjan. In the rock next to the church is a hermit's cave from the middle ages, which was restored in the 15th century. It is known as the Oratory of St. Cyriaka. According to local legends St. Jerome and St. Cyriak are buried there. Our photos from above the church are from the hermit's cave. We did not get to go into the church, just explore around it. It was lovely.
Our next stop was the Church of our Lady Bethlehem, also known as St Mary of the Crib. It is also on the southern slopes of Marjan, not too far from St. Jerolim. This church is in a Gothic style and is believed to have been built before 1500. It fell into disrepair and was reconstructed by the Marjan Association in 1927-28. They also added the beautiful stone stairs that are surrounded by Cyprus trees on the way to the church. It is one of the only churches in Split dedicated to the birth of Christ. They hold an early Midnight mass on Christmas Eve each year at 4pm.
Our last church to visit was the Church of Our Lady Seven Sorrows, historically also known as Santa Maria Pietatis. It was accessible on the opposite side of the road from St. Jerolim, but we visited it on our way back down. It was the hardest trek; the stairs down to it were crumbling and we had to be careful. This church was closed but we could see inside because it only had bars on the doors and no windows. At the altar of the church there is a depiction of the Lamentation of Christ from around 1500. On the back there is the calvary and the sides have angels with torches. The church is covered in messages written on the outside walls and the inside has votive offerings left. The feast of our Lady Offerings is celebrated September 15th and the Feast of Exaltation of the Holy Cross the day before.
We had one more church on that side of the park, St. George’s Church, but it was past the pups dinner and we had walked 2.5+ miles and the equivalent of 33 flights of stairs. We also weren’t sure how to get from where we were to the last church on that side, so it’s for another day. Those are not the only churches in the park. We have several more on different paths we plan to explore and share in the future. After the tourist season is over in downtown, we will go up the famous Marjan stairs to visit the churches and other sites there.