Results 1-4of 4 Reviews
by Joy S
Manchester, England, United Kingdom
July 4, 2006
From journal 2 Weeks in Istria
by Owen Lipsett
New York, New York
August 7, 2005
The first three years of construction occurred under Ostrogothic rule, which may help to explain the Basilica’s relatively plain appearance when seen from Eufrazijeva ulica, the pedestrianized street from which it is entered through a small archway. This is something of a nod to the site’s history, as it originally contained the Oratory of St. Maur, a meeting point for clandestine worship when Christianity was banned throughout the Roman Empire. When the Romans themselves adopted Christianity, they erected a church on the same site, which the Ostrogoths destroyed, although the remains of both structures have been incorporated into the Basilica. The location’s past history is further memorialized by the repeated use of the sign of the fish, which indicated such a secret gathering place, in the church’s floor mosaics.
Once inside the Atrium, the arcaded courtyard formed by the Baptistery, Bishop’s Palace, and Basilica itself, the harmony of the complex as a whole becomes readily apparent. In recognition of Istria’s incorporation into the Byzantine Empire, Euphrasius sought to create a complex that would marry the refined linear harmony of classical architecture with the more ornate and curved elements that had begun to develop in the East. Nowhere is this synthesis better illustrated than in the Basilica’s mosaics, considered on a par with those produced in Ravenna at the same time, and in all probability, by the some of the same artists, as Istria was part of the Exarchate of Ravenna.
The mosaics themselves, whose gilt tiles quite literally illuminate the apse of the otherwise austere Basilica, are reason enough to travel several hours to Poreč, even if (like me) its more hedonistic delights do not appeal to you. The Virgin Mary occupies the center of the tableau, rather than Christ himself, a Byzantine iconic innovation that here appeared in the Latin Europe for the first time. She holds the baby Jesus, flanked by three anonymous martyrs, Saint Maur, Bishop Euphrasius (who holds a model of the Basilica), the Archdeacon Claudius (Euphrasius’ brother), and Claudius’ son Euphrasius. This inclusion of living individuals, now commonplace, was also innovatory. Additional mosaic hierarchies memorialize Jesus and various saints, as well as portraying the Annunciation and Visitation in a rather lifelike manner, right down to an eavesdropping servant in the latter!
Open daily 7 am to 8 pm, except during services. Admission is free. Further information: http://www.istra.com/porec/eng/bazilika.html.
From journal Istria: Between Italy and the Balkans
Warwick, United Kingdom
September 5, 2003
From journal Sunny Porec, Croatia
The city was once walled, and although you can see some of the walls on the north side of the city, mostly all that remain are a couple of Venetian towers, mainly the pentagonal tower, the round tower, and the northeast tower. They are easy to come across as you wonder the streets.
The streets are cobbled and almost traffic-free, so walking is great but sensible shoes are required if you're not to break your ankle. A walk around the town taking it all in at a leisurely pace will probably take a couple of hours.