It has been a while since I first visited Euphrasian Basilica in Porec – back in 1987 while we took a field trip to Istria. Located in lovely Porec town, it is one of the most exceptional monuments for early Christian architecture and art in Europe and listed with UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Porec is a small town located on the western shore of Istria. It is a very popular tourist destination with numerous camps, hotels and other tourist facilities but it has also a very charming historic core still quite well preserved. The parts of the ancient fortifications are also visible but Porec is mostly known for the Euphrasian basilica. The entrance is tucked in a side street and does not give any indication of the grandeur hidden behind the walls.
The Euphrasian basilica is mostly known for the amazing mosaics dating from the 6th century and are considered to be some of the finest Byzantine mosaics in the World. They are not only celebrating Christ but also the bishop Euphrasius who erected the basilica. It is best shown on the mosaic with Mother Mary and Child depicting, second from left, St. Euphrasius with model of church.
The basilica is filled with superb pieces of art throughout! From mosaics to architecture and ornamental pieces.
The today basilica, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was built in the sixth century during the period of Bishop Euphrasius. It was built from 553 on the site of the older basilica. And, as it is always the case, for the construction, parts of the former church were used. According to the research, the wall mosaics were executed by Byzantian masters and the floor mosaics by local experts. The construction took about ten years.
The basilica is part of a complex composed of a 6th-century octagonal baptistry. Built in the 5th century together with the pre-Euphrasian basilica, and underwent considerable alterations. There are several other buildings within the complex which are today housing several museums like the Bishop’s Palace.
But I particularly liked the bell tower. The light wind was bringing the scents of Istrian fields and mixing it with salty air of the Adriatic… Unique experience!
And views of Porec are quite lovely from this ancient, 16th century bell tower.
From here, one can also get a good view of the basilica itself.
Also, don’t forget to see the amazing collection of ancient, Roman and Byzantine mosaics! Some of the most beautiful mosaics found in Croatia (and this part of the World in general) can bee seen in Porec.
Overall, this is one spectacular monument definitely not to be missed while in the area! I also try to include it with each tour of Istria we run, but Istria has so many great and unique monuments that many people skip Porec going straight to Motovun and other hilltop towns. Well, Istria deserves at least a 3-4 day stay anyway.