The building of the cathedral started in the 11th century (1093), although the building was razed to the ground by the Tatars in 1242. At the end of the 15th century, the Ottoman Empire invaded Bosnia and Croatia, triggering the construction of fortification walls around the cathedral. Some of these fortifications are still intact. In the 17th century, a fortified renaissance watchtower was erected on the south side, and was used as a military observation point, because of the Ottoman threat.
In 1880, the cathedral was severely damaged in an earthquake. The main nave collapsed and the tower was damaged beyond repair. The restoration of the cathedral in the neo-gothic style was made by Hermann Bollé, bringing the cathedral to its present form. As part of that restoration, two spires of 108 m (354 ft) height were raised on the western side, both of which are now in the process of being restored during a massive general restoration of the cathedral.
The cathedral is depicted on the reverse of the Croatian 1000 kuna banknote issued in 1993.
The building is, by its horizontal view when facing the portal, 46 meters long in width, 77 metres vertically and 108 metres in height. The cathedral contains a relief of Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac with Christ done by the Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović.