Minorite Monastery Church

Piran, Slovenia

St. Francis Church is situated next to the Franciscan monastery. In front of it there is a small square, formerly used as a cemetery. The construction of the church and the monastery reaches back to the year 1301. Despite many restorations, traces of the period in which the church was built can still be seen in the presbytery.

The present interior dates from the 17th century and the exterior from the 19th century. The left corner of the church is decorated in the Lombard style. The baldachin in front of the central altar dates from the 16th century. It was removed in the 18th century and restored to its original dwelling in the 19th century.

The most important painting is “Mary with all the Saints” by Vittore Carpaccio from the year 1518, which adorned the aedicula until 1940, when it was transferred to Italy. St. Francis Church is proud of its authentic gallery of paintings from the 17th and 18th centuries; the most important of which are: the Last Supper, the portraits of Pope Alexander V, Pope George II, St. Magdalena, St. John the Baptist, St. Peter, St. Paul and Samaritan Women by a Well.

Next to St. Francis Church is a Franciscan monastery with a gracefully designed atrium, the Cloister, which represents one of the best Cloister atrium designs in the coastal area. Leading to the Cloister there is a half-arched portal adorned with richly carved columns, bearing an architrave with an inscription and coats of arms.

In its entirety as well as its detail, the portal is considered to be the best example of stone carving art from the end of the 17th century in Piran. Due to its beautiful atmosphere and good acoustics, the Cloister has for many decades been the setting for the Musical Evenings of Piran.

The Pinacotheque, in the basement of the monastery, contains a collection of 14 high-quality paintings, painted mainly by unknown Venetian artists who used to decorate the monastery and the church.

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Details

Founded: 15th century
Category: Religious sites in Slovenia

More Information

www.portoroz.si

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Janez Papa (4 months ago)
Wonderful.
Vivian T. (4 months ago)
nice and very calm
Milan Vrsajkov (2 years ago)
The most beautiful sacral and cultural venue of Piran. There are many cultural events happening. The priests are very warm and welcoming!
Music Grinder (2 years ago)
Unique
Sandy Cooper (2 years ago)
Amazing place, beautiful architecture, fascinating history
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From 1239, Raynaud, the Bishop of Quimper, decided on the building of a new chancel destined to replace that of the Romanesque era. He therefore started, in the far west, the construction of a great Gothic cathedral which would inspire cathedral reconstructions in the Ile de France and would in turn become a place of experimentation from where would later appear ideas adopted by the whole of lower Brittany. The date of 1239 marks the Bishop’s decision and does not imply an immediate start to construction. Observation of the pillar profiles, their bases, the canopies, the fitting of the ribbed vaults of the ambulatory or the alignment of the bays leads us to believe, however, that the construction was spread out over time.

The four circular pillars mark the start of the building site, but the four following adopt a lozenge-shaped layout which could indicate a change of project manager. The clumsiness of the vaulted archways of the north ambulatory, the start of the ribbed vaults at the height of the south ambulatory or the choice of the vaults descending in spoke-form from the semi-circle which allows the connection of the axis chapel to the choir – despite the manifest problems of alignment – conveys the hesitancy and diverse influences in the first phase of works which spread out until the start of the 14th century.

At the same time as this facade was built (to which were added the north and south gates) the building of the nave started in the east and would finish by 1460. The nave is made up of six bays with one at the level of the facade towers and flanked by double aisles – one wide and one narrow (split into side chapels) – in an extension of the choir arrangements.

The choir presents four right-hand bays with ambulatory and side chapels. It is extended towards the east of 3-sided chevet which opens onto a semi-circle composed of five chapels and an apsidal chapel of two bays and a flat chevet consecrated to Our Lady.

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The west porch finds its natural place between the two towers. The entire aesthetic of these three gates springs from the Flamboyant era: trefoil, curly kale, finials, large gables which cut into the mouldings and balustrades. Pinnacles and recesses embellish the buttresses whilst an entire bestiary appears: monsters, dogs, mysterious figures, gargoyles, and with them a whole imaginary world promoting a religious and political programme. Even though most of the saints statues have disappeared an armorial survives which makes the doors of the cathedral one of the most beautiful heraldic pages imaginable: ducal ermine, the Montfort lion, Duchess Jeanne of France’s coat of arms side by side with the arms of the Cornouaille barons with their helmets and crests. One can imagine the impact of this sculpted decor with the colour and gilding which originally completed it.

At the start of the 16th century the construction of the spires was being prepared when building was interrupted, undoubtedly for financial reasons. Small conical roofs were therefore placed on top of the towers. The following centuries were essentially devoted to putting furnishings in place (funeral monuments, altars, statues, organs, pulpit). Note the fire which destroyed the spire of the transept cross in 1620 as well as the ransacking of the cathedral in 1793 when nearly all the furnishings disappeared in a « bonfire of the saints ».

The 19th century would therefore inherit an almost finished but mutilated building and would devote itself to its renovation according to the tastes and theories of the day.