Višnjan – Bačva – Poreč


Euphrasian Basilica

The center of the rich medieval diocese developed on the Roman grid plan of the town, which is even today clearly visible in the layout of the streets, crossing each other at right angles. In addition to the many preserved medieval buildings, the most significant is the parish church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, commonly known as the Euphrasian Basilica. It is part of the Early Byzantine complex of a basilica gemina with atrium, baptistery and Bishop's Palace, inscribed on the UNESCO's World Heritage List. Although you surely have to admire the unforgettable interior of the basilica, impeccably preserved mosaics in the central apse, marble colonnades richly sculpted with Early Byzantine capitals and preserved stucco work, sanctuary enclosed by marble slabs and ciborium, attention should be devoted to the frescoes as well. Mural paintings on the western wall, above the south entrance bear Ottonian characteristics. Of the one-time scene, only part of the lower register has been preserved, Christ Enthroned holding a book in his hand and two saints approaching him from the right. On the western wall is a fragment of fresco from the 14th c. depicting an unknown female saint. In the northern apse fragments of velarium with figurative presentations are the only preserved remains of frescoes. The best preserved ones are those dating from the end of the 14th c. in the former sacristy, above the sanctuary of the one-time northern basilica. More significant than the frescoes are archaeological finds with exedra and sarcophagus of St. Maurus, Early Christian martyr, according to legend the first bishop of Poreč. But, let us continue with the frescoes. They were executed at the time when this area was already transformed into a sacristy. On the southern wall details suggest scenes from the Passion of Christ. On the northern wall only the scene of the bearded saint's martyrdom is discernible. In a mountainous landscape, the martyr all covered with wounds and stripped to the waist, kneels while two tormentors beat him mercilessly with clubs. His identity remains uncertain, perhaps this is St. Maurus. It is possible that it represents part of the martyrdom of St. Gervasia and St. Protasia, whose cult is also present in Istria. Whatever this may be, when leaving Poreč one should bear in mind the fact that all the magnificence and splendor of cathedrals rests upon the bones of Christian martyrs.

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