Towers in Dalmatia – The church of Sv. Arhanđel in Miranje

This Sunday we got a lovely break from rain and cold weather. Sun finally showed up and it was time to get some fresh air! After few years, I decided to visit the church in Miranje, near Benkovac. It can be seen from the highway when passing near Benkovac and it is most spectacular in the nights of the full moon: silent tower raising over the tall cypress trees. Spooky!

Sv. Arhanđel - Miranje

The church is Romanesque in style, dating somewhere in the 12th or 13th century. It is a typical barrel-vaulted single nave churche with a round apse like numerous still left in this area. The vault lies directly on the walls and is reinforced with two transverse arches dividing the nave into three bays. An interesting thing about the tower in Miranje is that it is wider than the nave behind it.

The church

Although the church has Romanesque features, but the windows and doors with stone frames were built later. In the south-west facade there is a walled up portal with an inscription in the lunette written in strange Gothic minuscule in Italian and Latin. This inscription records an intervention on the building done in 1497, most likely the tower that was build in front of the church entrance and now serves as a bell tower. The end of the 15th century is the period of growing Turkish threat and the bell tower has characteristics of a fortification. The original name of the church is not known.

The lunette

Apparently, the evidences of Roman villa rustica, pottery, walls and coins have been found near by so this can be a holly place preserved from the most ancient times. The church was originally catholic belonging to the first inhabitants of Miranje or whatever the village was called at the time. Since the Turks enslaved or killed most of the people in the area, the church was probably part of the Turkish defense system and abandoned when they left in the late 17th century. Wen the people of Orthodox religion moved in, the church was changed to an Orthodox church and renamed to Sv. Arhanđel.

The tomb stone

Today, the church stands on a graveyard of Miranje.The church is locked and opens only on special dates or for funerals. The village has been abandoned and destroyed in 1995. But locals still come to visit the ones they loved and the church has been recently restored. The graveyard is fairly modern but some interesting artwork, looking like belonging to a much older period or different tomb artwork (stećci!), can be seen on some graves. It is interesting that the people belonging to the Orthodox church don’t move or restore crosses on their graves. It is believed that it brings bad luck… so don’t touch!

Beautiful, quite place I simply HAVE to visit on a night of a full moon and take some great photos!

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