Poreč has a World Heritage Site, it’s a 6th century Basilica.
Entrance to Basilica complex
Thanks to a helpful sign in various languages I have some information! Christians came to Poreč in the first centuries after Christ. The first bishop of Poreč was St. Mauro, who is now celebrated as the patron saint of Poreč. His feast day is celebrated annually in the town.
Tomb of St. Mauro
The early Christians were persecuted and had to gather in secret, Mauro had a secret church built. Then in 313 the Emperor Constantine granted the freedom to worship and the first basilica was built in the 4th century.
What remains of the original secret church.
During the Byzantine rule in the 6th century the Bishop Euphrasius came to Istria, seeing the poor condition of the 4th century basilica he had most of it demolished and built a new one. That’s the one that stands today, very little has changed since the 6th century, it’s the best preserved early Christian Cathedral complex in the world. Amazing when you think about its age and also that Poreč was bombed 34 times during World War II and the basilica remained undamaged.
I think I was about 12 the first time I was taken to see the basilica and even at that age was impressed by how old what I was seeing was. Just as you enter the basilica there are sections of the floor that are lower which are the floor parts of the older basilica, that was even more impressive, even older than what I was seeing!
I haven’t been in years so was surprised at how much more of the complex is open to the public, I can just remember visiting the basilica and that’s it. Now the signs that mark the trail have you going into the bapistry and the bell tower which you can climb if you want. (Decided to skip that bit!) Then onto the Bishop’s House, which is now an art museum showing some religious art from the region. From the Bishop’s House the trail leads outside to the excavations of the secret church of St. Mauro. Then inside again to the Lapidary, and the tomb of St Mauro. Finally into the basilica itself.
From the basilica, looking at the baptistry and the bell tower.
The Baptistry from the time that baptism was by immersion.
The Baptistry was built in the 5th century and was restored and decorated in the 6th century.
The Bishop's house, bishops lived here until the end of the 20th century.
The Reception Room in the Bishop's house, where the bishops received official visitors.
The rooms have been restored and are used to display religious art.
The Euphrasian Basilica interior dating back to the 6th century.
The mosaics over the altar have been restored and they’re beautiful to look at. (I can remember years ago visiting and the restoration was going on and you couldn’t see very much!)
During the time of the early Christian church, Christians were persecuted, to identify each other they used the symbol of a fish. (Jesus was the fisher of men) Early Christian artwork reflected that symbol and the basilica has 2 very old pieces, one carved.
And one mosaic.
After quite a few years of not having visited, it was a pleasant and interesting way to spend some time marvelling at what I was seeing and how far back in history it was all created.