The Euphrasian basilica of Poreč is a Catholic church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It is located in the old town of Poreč on the point protruding into the sea and has been a Unesco World Heritage Site since 1997 for its architecture and uniqueness. This is a mandatory visit for any history buff.
The Episcopal complex of the basilica, sometimes referred to as the Basilica Euphrasiana, features a palace, a sacristy, an atrium, a campanile and a baptistery in addition to the basilica itself. The basilica alone is small in size, but it managed to survive the times and combine Byzantine art with more classical elements.
History of the Euphrasian Basilica
As early as the 4th century, an oratory dedicated to the first bishop of Poreč was set up. This building was constructed from the ruins of a Roman villa and has a beautiful mosaic paving. Many improvements were made to the building at the end of the century. The Christian fish still visible today on the mosaics is a testament to the initial construction period.
This religious building was completely rebuilt in 553. The oratory was deconstructed and its stones were reused at the request of Bishop Euphrasius, the project’s initiator. Marble from Marmara (Constantinople) was imported and the structure we see today was completed in 10 years. This religious site was completed with marble columns with capitals, stone vaults and simpler constructions with wooden frames in an astonishing mixture of Romanesque and Byzantine styles. A ciborium (baldachin) was added 600 years later in the chancel. A campanile was built in the 16th century on top of the basilica.
The mosaics that decorate the walls of the apse and the ciborium in Byzantine style, are particularly remarkable. There are other mosaics that decorate the rest of the episcopal complex. Two works painted by Palma the Younger and Antonio Vivarini complement the place.
What can you see in this classified religious building?
- 300 wooden and rather steep steps allow to climb to the top and admire a clear view on 360 degrees.
- The chancel’s mosaic-covered apse is the centerpiece of the basilica. The beautiful colors on a golden background are very pleasant to contemplate.
- The baptistery where the first Christians were baptized is a room full of history.
Rates: Fee (to climb to the top of the campanile). The patio and the basilica are accessible for free.