Saturday, July 20, 2024

Mestrovics Crikvine Kastilac

The Mestrovic Crikvine Kastilac

Either a church or a museum Split Croatia
Either a church or a museum Mestrovics Crikvine Kastilac

During our stroll around Park Marjan, we stumbled upon this hidden gem quite serendipitously. Despite passing by on a few prior occasions when it remained closed, today was different. The front gate, nestled within a substantial wall, caught our attention, with the slightly ajar door revealing an intriguing glimpse of what lay beyond. Intrigued and armed with no prior information, I cautiously entered.

As I stepped inside, the architecture hinted at a church or a museum; the building at the far end of my gaze exuded a captivating charm. My curiosity led me further, and to my delight, I discovered that it was indeed a museum, though one with limited operating hours. Excitement mounted as I realised that a joint ticket could unlock the doors not just to this mysterious find but also to the renowned Mestrovic Gallery, creating a dual cultural adventure waiting to be explored.

About Ivan Meštrović (1883-1962) Mestrovics Crikvine Kastilac

Ivan Meštrović (1883-1962)
Ivan Meštrović Woman in the Rapture of Prayer

Ivan Meštrović (1883-1962) was a Croatian sculptor, architect, and writer, renowned for his significant contributions to the art world. Born in the small village of Otavice in the Dalmatian hinterland. Meštrović’s early exposure to the traditional rural lifestyle and the influences of Old Slavic mythology and Christian traditions laid the foundation for his artistic journey.

16th-century Renaissance Castello Split Mestrovics Crikvine Kastilac

Mestrovics Crikvine -Kastilac Courtyard
Mestrovics Crikvine Kastilac Courtyard

In the years 1939 to 1941, Ivan Meštrović undertook the acquisition and transformation of a 16th-century Renaissance Castello. He was imprinting his visionary design on the structure to create a haven of tranquillity and reflection. Nestled serenely above the Adriatic Sea, the complex received a thoughtful addition by Meštrović. A cloister adorned with stately stone Doric columns and the Holy Crucifix church.

Life of Jesus of Nazareth Wooden Reliefs

28 meticulously crafted wooden reliefs
28 meticulously crafted wooden reliefs

The Holy Crucifix church is distinguished by a cycle of 28 meticulously crafted wooden reliefs depicting the Life of Jesus of Nazareth. It was a project that spanned nearly 35 years from 1916 to 1950. Meštrović’s dedication and artistic prowess converged to produce this magnum opus. Which stands today as a masterpiece in the realm of European sacral sculpture. Immortalizing moments of spiritual significance in a timeless narrative. Above the altar, a commanding wooden crucifix crowns this space. Culminating in a breathtaking tableau that stands as a testament to the rich tapestry of Croatian art history.

Meštrović’s castle cannot be

Meštrović's works in the photography of Zoran Alajbeg
Meštrović’s works in the photography of Zoran Alajbeg

The modest chapel and its treasures are intended for our community, especially for the broader populace still rooted in their religious customs. My desire was for this world to find solace, extending beyond those versed in the language of art. (Excerpt from Ivan Meštrović’s letter to Cvito Fisković, dated 3 January 1955)

Situated in the Meje area of Split, beneath the sun-kissed slopes of the Marjan Peninsula. The Meštrović’s Crikvine – Kaštilac stand proudly by the sea, adjacent to the Meštrović Gallery. This sacred and artistic ensemble has evolved from the ruins of a 16th-century Capogrosso family estate. Forming a poignant narrative within its weathered walls.

Meštrović generously bestowed his properties

Beautiful example of old architecture
Beautiful example of old architecture

Following the transfer to the People’s Republic of Croatia in a deed dated 31 January 1952, where Meštrović generously bestowed his properties in Zagreb and Split, including the Church of the Most Holy Redeemer in Otavice and the western part of the Crikvina estate, Kastelet, in his possession, an interesting nomenclature debate unfolded. Despite objections from the artist himself against labelling the object as such, Meštrović envisioned the complex as Crikvina, emphasizing its roots in old Croatian terminology. His reasoning, shared with art historian Cvita Fisković in a 1955 letter, highlighted the existence of remnants of old churches on the land, underscoring the connection to spiritual traditions.

In Meštrović’s words, “‘Meštrović’s castle’ cannot be, because I did not build it as a ‘castle’ or for myself, but as a small endowment for our people, giving it content that is closest to its spiritual traditions, and which also shows the drama of man, our light.” The choice of Crikvina, an old Croatian word, reflected his commitment to preserving the authentic spirit of Croatian heritage and resisting the imposition of foreign influences. For him, this was not merely a matter of local semantics; it was a deliberate effort to infuse the essence of Croatian identity into every sculpted nuance of the life of Jesus of Nazareth, captured in his reliefs.

The Secret Life of Sculpture

Zoran Alajbeg Exhibition
Zoran Alajbeg Exhibition

During our visit to this location, we had the opportunity to explore an exhibition featuring the works of Meštrović, as captured through the lens of photographer Zoran Alajbeg. The extensive photographic archives housed at the Meštrović Gallery in Split boast over 3,500 images, all commissioned by the Ivan Meštrović Museums from the skilled photographer, Zoran Alajbeg. Over the last two decades, Alajbeg, who embarked on his photographic journey in 1978, has dedicated his lens to Meštrović’s creations, resulting in a vast and compelling collection of visual representations now preserved within the Ivan Meštrović Museums. The photographs we saw and the sculptures were just a part of an extensive collection, held in several museums.

Practical Information for Your Visit

Opening Hours: 9.00 – 17.00 Tuesday to Sunday – Closed Monday]

Admission: [12,00 EUR The ticket includes a visit to the Meštrović Gallery and the Meštrović’s Crikvine – Kaštilac]

Location of Meštrovićeve Crikvine – Kaštilac

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