St. Mary's Church

Beram, Croatia

The Church of St. Mary on Škriljinah is a Gothic church with a portico, a bell gable and a wooden tabulate added. In the church interior there is the Dance of Death scene, one of the most well-known series of frescoes and, along with the Arena in Pula and Euphrasian Basilica, the most recognizable cultural monument of Istria.

Frescoes were finished in 1474 by the workshop of Master Vincent from Kastav, of which there is a Latin inscription depicted on the south wall. Although Vincent was the main painter in the Church of St. Mary on Škriljanah, Beram frescoes were the work of several artists. He was helped by two other painters, of whom one is the author of the famous Dance of Death, and the other painted the image of St. Martin the horseman, who cuts a piece of his luxurious cloak giving it to a freezing, bare and poor passer-by in order to wrap himself in it.

The impressive Adoration of the Magi, the scene filling the entire upper part of the north wall, is the most valuable work by Vincent. The first scene the visitor sees upon his/her entrance is an unusual representation of a fool. When the eye becomes accustomed to the unlit interior after a few moments, the figures of saints pop out in the field framed by a wine of acathus leaves as in a puppet theatre. Scenes from the life of Mary and Christ are intertwined with the scenes of saints. The Dance of Death is most attractive for visitors on the west wall. One of the oldest preserved representations of this theme, the teaching representation of death in those times which treats us all equally and from which no one can escape, was painted after the epidemics of bubonic plaque.

Along with the dancing dead, the pope, the cardinal and the bishop, the king and the queen, a fat innkeeper, a child, a beggar and a soldier whose robust armour cannot help, and finally a trader who is not successful in bribing death with gold ducats move toward the open grave in a silent procession. The dancing skeletons move along the rhythm set by the death itself by playing the bagpipes.

References:

Comments

Your name



Address

Unnamed Road, Beram, Croatia
See all sites in Beram

Details

Founded: 15th century
Category: Religious sites in Croatia

More Information

www.istria-culture.com

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Viorel Iosub (2 years ago)
The cemetery church of St. Mary of the Rocks is situated 1km to the north-east from Beram, within itself holds one of the most valuable acomplishments of Istrian medieval painting. Well preserved late-gothic frescos almost entirely cover the inner walls of the church, and they were made by master Vincent of Kastav. The strongest impression leaves the fresco called „Dance of the Dead“ where in front of our eyes kings, merchants, cardinals, even the Pope himself dance hand in hand with death.
Edo Caric (2 years ago)
Trebalo bi uložit na uređenje crkve s obzirom na značaj freski
Sandor Slacki (2 years ago)
The most wonderful dead dance murals in Istria. A must see!
Toni Krasnic (5 years ago)
Home of "Dance of Death" fresco - the most famous fresco in Istria.
Andrej Planina (5 years ago)
Very rich interoir frescos. Church is on remote place. You need to get the guide in the village which will open the doors of the church.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba

The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.

According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.

In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.

The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.

Architecture

The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.

In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.

The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.