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The Church of the Holy Salvation (Croatian: Crkva Sv. Spasa) is a Pre-Romanesque church in Split-Dalmatia County, Croatia. The exact location of the church is in a small village of Cetina, in inland of Dalmatian Zagora, on spring of river Cetina, 8 km northwest from the town of Vrlika.
This church is quite important in Croatia, as it is the only pre-schism church constructed with a bell tower which is still standing.
It was a large stone church for that period. The church is a one-longitudinal-nave structure with a sanctuary consisting of three apses, in the form of a trefoil. Later, the middle apse was pulled down and substituted by a bigger, rectangular one. The church has strong semi-circular buttresses that give a feeling of fortification, emphasized with mighty bell-tower positioned in front of entrance, creating a westwork.
The church was built near Vrlika, called Vrh Rike in the 9th-10th century. It was dated to the time of Duke Branimir of Dalmatian Croatia through comparative analysis of an altar beam with other artefacts carrying Branimir's name by Ivo Petricioli in 1980 and 1984. It is one of the oldest and best preserved larger monuments of the early Croatian pre-Romanesque sacral architecture.
The church was built by the local župan (district-prefect) Gastika of Cetina, at the recommendation of Pope Stephen VI, but as a private church, built in memory of his family. During the excavation work, several architectural fragments and pieces of stone furnishings adorned with the Croatian interlace have been found. The most important is the fragment of a beam with semi-uncial inscriptions from it is known that the church had been dedicated to Christ and built on the order of the prefect Gastika, the son of Nemira.
The graves found near the Church, dated to the 9th through 14th century, had a specific kind of textile that was found to be comparable in quality with 18th and 19th century clothing. There are over 1,026 old Croatian graves around the church of great archaeological interest. Several tombs have been found in the church itself, most of which (more than 800) originally had stećci. The culture of that time was influenced by the Frankish Empire, which was noticed in the archaeological findings from the period and the structure of the church.
In the early 15th century, Hrvoje Vukčić strengthened the Prozor Fortress, and most of the inhabitants moved out of Vrh Rika into Vrlika. The fortress subsequently belonged to Ivaniš Nelipac, Ivan Frankopan and Mihača Nikolin Vitturi. After a 1492 invasion by the Ottoman Empire, the church and the settlement sustained heavy damage and a substantial part of the inhabitants fled to Turopolje.
The Serb Orthodox Eparchy of Dalmatia published a conflicting assessment of the origin of the Holy Salvation, originally published by Mirko Ležaić in 1939 in Belgrade, saying Tvrtko I built it, and that it was destroyed by the Turks in 1512.
The 17th century saw new inhabitants from Bosnia (Ottoman Muslim, Serbian Orthodox, Roman Catholic Croats and Croatian Greek Catholic) settle in the area near the church. Most of them where Orthodox, whose graves today are mixed with the old Croatian graves.
The church was mostly used as a Catholic Church, except for the time between World War II and the Croatian War of Independence when it was also used as an Orthodox Church.