The Shrine of Our Lady of Trsat is the largest pilgrimage centre of Western Croatia. Its foundation is reported to be, according to tradition, related to the miraculous transport of the Nazareth Barn, and its stay on Trsat (1291 – 1294). Shortly after the relocation of the Mother of God’s house to Loreto, Prince Nikola I of Krk built the first small church on the place where the barn stood on Trsat.
Marija`s Trsat became a pilgrimage point of convergence, the reputation of which was strengthened by the astounding painting of the Lady of Trsat, which was a gift given to the inconsolable Croats in 1367 by Pope Urban V for the loss of the Holy Barn. In the XV century, the Sanctuary was taken over by Franciscans, who have remained its guardians to the present day. On 8 June 2003, Pope John Paul II attended a long pilgrimage procession.
The oldest parts of the main nave and the sanctuary of today’s church originate from the late gothic era marked by the donation of Martin Frankopan, who in 1453 started building the new church and monastery for the Franciscans from the Bosnian vicary. Nowadays, the visage of the church and the monastery exist mostly thanks to baroque renovations conducted after a great fire in 1629. A luxurious main altar built in 1692 dominates the sanctuary. In 1707, a metal railing was placed on the late gothic triumph arch and above it, in 1714, a huge painting composition of the Heralding, in which the Venetian painter C. Tasca incorporated the transfer of the Holy Barn.
The altarpieces of St Mihovil and St Anna, located left and right of the triumph arch, were painted by the Swiss S. Schön in the first half of the XVII century. Next to each of the nine church altars, there is information on those who placed orders, donators and masters that built it or subsequently embellished it. The Large Cloister can be entered through a separate entrance near the church forepart or through a side door that leads from the church itself. Through it, passing by the souvenir shop, the chapel of St Francis of Assisi dates back to 1649, followed by the Chapel of Candles and the essential Chapel of Votive Gifts, with the gothic statue of the Lady of Slunj standing out.
Parts of the monastery within the enclosure can be viewed by appointment, or at times when the Franciscans` daily routine is not disturbed. There one can find: the Little Cloister, the Summer Dining Room with Schön`s famous painting Mystique Dinner of the Saint Family from 1640, the Winter Dining Room with the portrait of Father Franjo Glavinić who was in charge of the monastery’s renovation at the end of the first half of the XVII century, the monastery gallery of old masters and recent art donators, the library, archive and Treasury full of votive gifts of Croatian governors, Hapsburg emperors and other high dignitaries or church prelates.
From the foot of the hill, where the port was formerly situated at the mouth of the river Rječina, the Stairs of Petar Kružić lead to the monastery. They were named after the Croatian general who commenced its construction in 1531. There are gothic and baroque chapels beside the Stairs, which were built as vows of dignitaries. In XIX century, Marija`s Gardens started being attended to around the monastery. In front of the church is a statue of the Pope John II – The Trsat Pilgrim, by a sculptor Ante Jukica, erected in May 2005.