Euphrasian basilica in Poreč, Istria

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 - the historic peninsula
Porec - the historic peninsula

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 entrance to Euphrasian Basilica
The entrance to Euphrasian Basilica

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.

Mosaic with Virgin and Child. And St. Euphrasius
Mosaic with Virgin and Child. And St. Euphrasius

The basilica is filled with superb pieces of art throughout! From mosaics to architecture and ornamental pieces.

Ancient columns
Ancient columns
Wonderful mosaics
Wonderful mosaics

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 ancient columns
The ancient columns

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.

The Bishop's Palace museum
The Bishop's Palace museum

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!

Wonderful spring day
Wonderful spring day

And views of Porec are quite lovely from this ancient, 16th century bell tower.

Porec town
Porec town

From here, one can also get a good view of the basilica itself.

Euphrasian basilica from the bell tower
Euphrasian basilica from the bell tower

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.

Fish mosaic
Fish mosaic

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.

For more information on Euphrasian basilica go to UNESCO site or Wikipeda or to offical site of Porec Tourst Board: http://www.to-porec.com/ The entrance to the basilica is 30 Kn per person.

 

 

 

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6 thoughts on “Euphrasian basilica in Poreč, Istria

  • I haven’t been to the basilica since 1989, and I feel terrible that I drove up to Poreč from Split in 2009 to watch Davis Cup tennis, and never visited the center of town. I love Byzantine mosaic work, and this is a fine example. Probably the same artisans from Classe, near Ravenna (Italy) – just across that part of the Adriatic – and a superb part of Croatia’s cultural patrimony.

  • The marble canopy on the altar reminds me of the one in St. Lawrence Cathedral in Split.

  • Yes, there is always next time, Alan. 🙂

    I’ve never heard of a St. Lawrence Cathedral in Split, Elisa. Where is it?

  • Oh thanks, I just thought it was something I’ve missed for years, 🙂

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