Frescoes of Beram

Still getting through all the pictures of Istria! It will take at least 3-4 more blog posts to get all that beauty in writing…

Next stop was tiny Beram with one of the most interesting late Gothic frescoes in Croatia! A place I always wanted to visit because of several amazing images…

Beram
Beram

The frescoes are not exactly in Beram but in a tiny, about one kilometer to the north-east of Beram, cemetery chapel of Sveta Marija na Skrilinama. It is a 15th century Gothic building, constructed after the pattern of the old Parish Church of Beram.

Sv. Marija na Skrlinama
Sv. Marija na Skrlinama

This tiny chapel holds some of the most beautiful frescoes in Croatia! They were painted by Master Vincent from Kastav and his assistants in about 1474. The late-Gothic frescoes in Beram show, on about 46 painted areas, the lives of the Madonna and Christ as well as various local Saints. On the western wall are Adam and Eve, The Wheel of Fortune, and The Dance of Death. On the northern wall is the Adoration of the Magi which is 8 metres long.
Most of the images are of incredible beauty!

Frescoes
Frescoes
Faces...
Faces...

During renovation works in the 18th century, the Gothic vault in the sanctuary was demolished with its Gothic ribbing and this was replaced by a straight ceiling. Windows were built into the side walls of the sanctuary and an entrance hall was built onto the front of the church. At that time the nave was also given a painted wooden ceiling. Some frescoes were destroyed, some damaged but despite this the Beram frescoes are some of the most completely preserved frescoes in this part of Europe

The ceiling
The ceiling

But the detail this church is best known for is definitely the Dance of Death or Danse Macabre  with skeletons carrying scythes and blowing horns as they lead townspeople to death.

Danse Macabre
Danse Macabre

Painted above the main doors, it was supposed to remind the commoners and nobility that we are all equal in death. It was obviously influenced by the similar works found elsewhere in central Europe. First representations of Danse Macabre was a now lost mural in the Saints Innocents Cemetery in Paris dating from 1424-25, about 50 years before this work. Similar motifs can now be found in most European countries as this was the time of the terrible outbreak of bubonic plague in the 14th century, famine and terrible wars…

More biblical motifs...
More biblical motifs...

The images are really stunning even after over 500 years! Imagine what effect these had on the illiterate common folk of the late middle ages…

The chapel is easy to reach but you still need to go to center of Beram and ask for the lady who has the keys.  She will then drive with you to the chapel down a steep hill and into the little forest. The  entrance “ticket” is 20 kuna or about 3 Euros as the local priest decided that they should charge something for this. Completely agree with him as place like this needs all the funds it can get to preserve this amazing artwork for generations to come.

Also note that taking photos with flash is not permitted so either practice taking low light shots or bring a tripod.

Advertisements

3 thoughts on “Frescoes of Beram

  • Although I live on the beautiful Island of Pag, I don’t manage to find the time to travel around Croatia much which is a shame as there as so many interesting places to see. Thanks for the blog Alan, the next best thing.

  • We are a Canadian couple who love to find hidden gems off the beaten track., unlike many travelers. We will be coming to experience the Dalmatian coast from Dubrovnik to Istria for three weeks this June. These beautiful frescoes are just the type of special Croatian experience we’re looking for. Thank you.

    Any additional hidden gems you can offer to make our experience more “authentic” would be greatly appreciated.

    Looking forward to getting lost in Croatia.

Comments are closed.