Hrastovlje Church

Črni Kal, Slovenia

Holy Trinity Church is a historical building in Hrastovlje. There are two hypotheses about its origin. According to the first, it is a Romanesque church from the 12th century. According to the second, it is an example of the Istrian variant of Early Venetian Renaissance architecture from the 15th century. The church stands behind a wall that the local population built to protect itself from Turkish attacks in the 16th century.

The church and wall were built on bare rock, and for this reason do not have deep foundations. The church is built mostly out of stone, as is typical for the entire coastal region. The stones were never entirely covered in an outer layer of plaster, and it is thus possible to see how the church was built. One can see that top of the church spire was rebuilt at some time, although it is not known why. The church is topped with tiles made of thick plates. These are characteristic for older roofs in the Mediterranean region.

The church has only 2 windows (a third window was walled up in the past) as a result of the local weather conditions. In summer, a room with a small window was protected from the sun, while in winter it was protected from the bora. Because of the low number of windows, the inside of the church is however very dark. In 1896, a hole was knocked in the northern wall to create a new window, but unfortunately some of the frescoes in the church were destroyed at the same time.

Despite the lack of windows, the church nonetheless used to be better lit than it is today. This is the result of the addition of the powerful outer wall, which robs the church of much of its light.

Because of its height, the church is classed as a multi-layered church. The church in Hrastovlje differs from all other pilgrim churches in that its bell-tower is located on the western side and in that all other pilgrim churches have small wooden towers.

The church is 11.7 metres long and 6.05 metres wide and thereby one of the smallest churches in the area. It is not even as large as the average village church. Some claim that the church is an example of IstrianRenaissance architecture from the second half of the 15th century.

The appearance of the northwestern entrance to the church, as known today, dates back to around 1776. The original entrance was probably next to the bell-tower.

The church has been painted with Gothic frescoes by Johannes de Castua in 1490. Some of them include letters in the Glagolitic script. The most famous of these frescoes is a Dance of Death or 'Danse Macabre'.



Your name


Founded: 12th century
Category: Religious sites in Slovenia

More Information


4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Momo The Chatty Monkey (15 months ago)
The most beautiful display of late medieval religious art. Calling in advance is advisable. Although perhaps not nessecary it seemed appreciated. The (really friendly) keeper put on an audio in our own language and pointed at the fresco’s that were explained by the audio at that moment. That way you can really take the most out of it. Worth the trip.
Uroš Samec (19 months ago)
Magical, beautiful, breath taking church, to wich I keep returning every year. For 3 eur you will get quite dicent guidance and a lovely chat. Also, from a vineyard around they are offering bottled red wine Refosk. Just a little further on, there is a hill and on a top of it, there is a charmy, little church from 15 century. Sadly it is closed for public, but if you realy want to see it, ask the locals for a key.
Ksenija Gorišek Mauer (20 months ago)
Not far from the highway, magnificent small church from 12 century with marvelous frescos inside - masterpiece. Dance of death is special. The church is behind a protective wall. Entrance fee 3eur.
Jack Jones ( Go Explore) (2 years ago)
A must visit to view the dance of death - a well preserved fresco. Take time to listen to the rest of the explanation of the paintings which are also well preserved. Current entry is 3 Euro per person. Walk through the old town if time allows!
K. D. (2 years ago)
This small peculiar, fortified church is famous for extraordinary 15th-century frescos. Though truth be told, it's one fresco in particular that made this church famous: the fresco of the 'danse macabre,' also known as the dance of death. It depicts the all-conquering and equalizing power of death. Death doesn't distinguish between a toddler, farmer, queen, or pope. When our time has finally come to leave this life behind, we are all equal. The short audio tour costs about 3 EUR. If the church is closed, you can call the number on display, and a person will open it for you. That is, if you are willing to wait for a few minutes. You are not allowed to take photos inside. Although not all tourists respect this request, I must add that this is to preserve the fragile medieval frescos. However, you can buy a lovely postcard, just like I did, for as little as 0,70€. Thus taking a precious memory of this hidden gem home with you. If you don't want to take the audio tour available in many languages, you can observe the artwork for free. Nevertheless, I thought my 3 euros were well spent. It allowed me to gain a bit more insight into what was on display in this unique church. That being said, I highly recommend this slight detour if you enjoy a bit of history and culture.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Santa Maria in Trastevere

The Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere is one of the oldest churches of Rome. The basic floor plan and wall structure of the church date back to the 340s, and much of the structure to 1140-43. The first sanctuary was built in 221 and 227 by Pope Callixtus I and later completed by Pope Julius I. 

The inscription on the episcopal throne states that this is the first church in Rome dedicated to Mary, mother of Jesus, although some claim that privilege belongs to the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore. A Christian house-church was founded here about 220 by Pope Saint Callixtus I (217-222) on the site of the Taberna meritoria, a refuge for retired soldiers. The area was made available for Christian use by Emperor Alexander Severus when he settled a dispute between the Christians and tavern-keepers.

The church underwent two restorations in the fifth and eighth centuries and in 1140-43 it was re-erected on its old foundations under Pope Innocent II.