Gradišće – Koper


St. Helen

The first church on our way in terms of geography does not belong to Istria, but rather to the Slovenian Karst. But, in terms of culture it is part of Istria, indeed. There we can find frescoes of John from Kastav, the Late Gothic Istrian painter educated in the Alpine cultural circle, most probably in Carinthia. This is one of the warmest church interiors, nicely kept and maintained by the locals, aware of its value. It is an example of proper care of one’s own heritage, and how the intimacy of space should sometimes be preserved, the patina of the monument and its multilayering without unnecessary conservation and restoration or cleansing.

All along, the church is Gothic, single-naved, with an elongated and irregular five-sided sanctuary with a stellar vault. The Baroque adaptation raised the nave and joined it with the sanctuary by a slate roof. A massive bell gable was added to its front, having two openings for the bells and a miniature portico resting on two columns. Among the modest inventory, quality Gothic frescoes stand out. On the northern wall stands the long procession of the Adoration of the Magi with many solemnly dressed figures and adorned horses reflecting the court magnificence of the time. The scene is enriched by a number of scenes from fables, such as the battle between the wild man and the bear, Aesop’s fable abut the Fox and the Crane. The rest of the paintings in two registers on the western and southern walls represent scenes of the Passion of Christ, from Entry into Jerusalem to Jesus Appears to His Disciples. After the vivid colors of John’s frescoes, before continuing your journey, take a walk to the Škale belvedere offering an unforgettable view of Škocjan and its surroundings, hiding the well known Karst phenomenon – the Škocjan Caves.

Print page Send to a friend