Euphrasian Basilica

Poreč, Croatia

The Euphrasian Basilica complex, including a sacristy, baptistery and the bell tower of the nearby archbishop's palace, is an excellent example of early Byzantine architecture in the Mediterranean region. The Basilica has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1997.

The earliest basilica was dedicated to Saint Maurus of Parentium and dates back to the second half of the 4th century. The floor mosaic from its oratory, originally part of a large Roman house, is still preserved in the church garden. This oratorium was already expanded in the same century into a church composed of a nave and one aisle (basilicae geminae). The fish on the floor mosaic dates from this period. Coins with the portrayal of emperor Valens (365–378), found in the same spot, confirm these dates.

The present basilica, dedicated to 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 that had become dilapidated. For the construction, parts of the former church were used and the marble blocks were imported from the coast of the Sea of Marmara. The wall mosaics were executed by Byzantian masters and the floor mosaics by local experts. The construction took about ten years. Euphrasius, holding the church in his arms, is represented on one of the mosaics on the apse, next to St. Maurus.

Following the earthquake of 1440 the southern wall of the central nave of the basilica was restored, so that in place of the windows which were destroyed, other were built in the Gothic style.

The most striking feature of the basilica are its mosaics, dating from the 6th century. The mosaics which decorate the inside and facade of the church are considered a valuable bequest of Byzantine art, and thanks to the floor mosaics and preserved writings the periods of its construction and renovation can be read.

The apsis is dominated by the marble ciborium, modelled after the one in St. Mark's in Venice, it was built in 1277 on the orders of Otto, Bishop of Poreč. The canopy, decorated with mosaics, is carried by four marble columns that belonged to the previous 6th-century ciborium. The front side of the canopy depicts representations of scenes from Mary's life, the Annunciation. In the 15th century Bishop Johann Porečanin ordered in Italy a Renaissance relief for the antependium of the altar, made of gilded silver. The polyptych of the Venetian painter Antonio Vivarini dates from the same period. The Last Supper, painted by Palma the Younger is a Baroquework.

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Founded: 553 AD
Category: Religious sites in Croatia

Rating

4.6/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Seimen Burum (2 years ago)
Beautiful decorated altar in this Basilica and when I visited in November 2022 very quiet. And ticket sales were closed then so I had free entry. Next to the church is a large Roman mosaic
Amanda Geismann (2 years ago)
Enjoyed a nice little walk through the Basilica. For someone with a keen interest in mosaics, it's worth it. Also going in for a view from the top of the bell tower is well worth it. Might be nice to be up there when the bells ring at 12:00. We started walking around and heard them as we arrived. They have their own wine here too. Looking forward to trying the two we bought.
Ferenc Lombos (2 years ago)
View is nice, but think about visiting it twice if you are with small kids. The number of visitors allowed to go up is not controlled at all, it's a total chaos both upside and downside. When we went up we had to wait at every corner to allow others to go down. When we tried to go down, the tourists going up did not stop, the observation point became totally overcrowded and many of us had to shout to start going downwards.
philth (2 years ago)
Great that it’s stood up for so long and nice views from the tower. 50 kuna entry (c£5.70 in August 2022), spent about an hour there but ultimately fairly dull and not all exhibits described in English. Honestly just ok unless you’re there for faith reasons
Matej (2 years ago)
Very old church from the byzantine period of time located in Poreč. The scripts are amazing. Part of the church was destroyed in the earthquake few centuries ago. The church is well preserved and in a good shape. In the church complex there is also a museum and exhibition. Fee has to be paid.
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