The St. Peter’s Cathedral’s construction (1866–1882) is the most crucial event in the cultural history of Đakovo and one of the most essential Croatian construction projects of its time. Pope John XXIII described it; The most beautiful Cathedral between Venice and Istanbul.
The visionary J.J. Strossmayer
It was 1874., the Đakovo Cathedral was rising in front of the eyes of Bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer. The most deserving of its construction he proudly said; “The outward appearance of the church in Đakovo fully suits its geographical location and it will remind our people of the divine purpose which we, as the population of this part of Europe, are particularly prompted to fulfill. This must be the quest of all of our art… ”
Bishop Strossmayer commissioned the Viennese architect Karl Rösner to design the plans for the Cathedral in Åpril 1866., however, Rösner died in 1869. After his death, Friedrich Schmidt, the most famous 19th-century Gothic architect continue. Strossmayer said, ” his Gothic architecture marvelously complements the Romanesque elements of the Cathedral’s interior and exterior“. The church was covered with roof tiles in May 1871. The construction of the church was finalized 11 years later, and it was consecrated on 1 October 1882.
The St. Peter’s Cathedral in Đakovo is the most crucial sacral buildings in Croatia
The Cathedral is lavishly adorned with frescos and sculptures. The most famous Nazarene painter J.F. Overbeck was hired to paint the frescos. Still, he died, so the frescos were painted by his disciples – German painters who lived in Rome, father, and son, Alexander-Maximilian Seitz and Ludwig Seitz.
A total of 43 frescos were painted, two of which were painted by the Italian painter Ludovico Ansiglioni. These paintings are, according to many, among the most valuable works of art in the Cathedral. In addition to paintings, there are 7 altars and one ceremonial pulpit with stone statues and reliefs of saints.
How beautiful heaven must be if there is such beauty here
The main altar is an architectural masterpiece dedicated to the patron saint of the Cathedral, St. Peter the Apostle. The choice of saints on auxiliary altars is related to the history of the Diocese, ideas of the bishops during construction, and general popular piety. Most of the sculptures were made by Vatroslav Donegani, Ivan Rendić, and Georg Feuerstein. All walls of the Cathedral are adorned with colored ornaments of varying shapes, the works of painter and decorator Josip Voltolini and his associates. The organ on the choir and the large rosette in the background is of great value. The original organ was destroyed in a large fire in 1933. The current organ was built by the famous Slovenian organ company owned by Franc Jenko. It has 73 registries, three manuals, and a pedalboard with 5,486 pipes. Furniture was made in the historicist style.
The crypt contains gravestones of the Đakovo bishops. It is the burial place of visionary J.J. Strossmayer, with a relief made by the sculptor Rudolf Valdec in 1913. The Cathedral is a prominent example of historicist Gesamtkunstwerk, where the Neo-Romanesque idea was consistently carried out from the front façade to the altars, sculptures, and frescos.
The Cathedral’s original appearance is preserved even though it was damaged in the 1933 fire and the wars in 1941, 1945, and 1991.
When entered The Cathedral, a young local female peasant said, “How beautiful heaven must be if there is such beauty here! ”