Poreč


Porec has population of 10 500 inhabitants. The Prehistoric Period. Archaeological finds from the Pical site confirm the existence of Porec as a settlement as early as the Neolithic era (from 4000 to 1800 BC). Finds from the Bronze Age (about 2000 BC) are plentiful. The most famous prehistoric site in the Porec area is Picugi, which was the home of an lllyrian tribe known as the Histri in about 800 BC. This tribe gave their name to the region known today as lstria. Even in prehistoric times there was a protected harbour built in the Porec area which provided shelter for fishing boats and merchant vessels sailing alongthe lstrian coast. Finds of Etruscan and painted pottery from Apulia (6th to the 5th century BC) witness to lively trading links between Southern Italy and lstria. The Roman Era. In 177 BC the Roman Consul Claudius Pulcher captured and razed the capital of the Histri, Nesactium, to the ground as part of his Istrian campaign, but he did not succeed in breaking the resistance of the Illyrian tribe. lstria was finally conquered and subdued in 129 BC. From that time Parentium (Porec), which is situated on the road from Aquileia to Pula, began to play an important role in the Roman colonisation of Istria. Parentium was an important military base; on the peninsula a fortified Roman army camp was built up together with a walled city (Oppidum, see Decumanus). During the reign of Caesar, Porec became a municipality and in Tiberius’ time it attained the status of a colony – Colonia Iulia Parentium. A large part of Istria was used as agricultural land by the Porec colony and was crossed by good roads, which have to a large degree remained intact to the present day. Chris- tianity soon reached the well-populated area of Porec, and as early as the middle of the 3rd century there was a Christian community with its own bishop. The community had its own secret church, or oratium (Domus Ecclesiae), which was a hall equipped for meetings of the Christian community, and a baptistery (now in the complex of the Maurus baptistery). The Migrations of the Nations. From ancient times right through to the Middle Ages, Porec came under influences from the East, the North and the West, and in the early Middle Ages, its ethnic make-up changed radically. Towards the end of the 6th century the Slavs and Avars invaded Istria, but Porec resisted their attacks. As the Slavs (Croatians) began to populate the deserted land around Porec and other Istrian coastal settlements, and finally settled permanently around the middle of the 7th century, they began to work the fields and to use the grazing land and forests of the townspeople At this time Porec was ruled by the Goths, led by Odoacer and Theodoric. Under Various Rulers. With the collapse of the Roman Empire and its division, Porec came under the jurisdiction of the Eastern Empire. When Iustinian effected a reunification, Porec was allotted to the Byzantine Empire in 539 and came under the Pranks in 788. Charles the Great ceded Porec to Mark Friaul. There is an important historical document still in existence from this time – The Placitum of Rizan (804): the cities accused the Rector Iohn of bringing in the Slavs who had grown in strength and were working the cities’ fields without paying tithes or any other dues. John, whom the Slavs served as border guards, was naturally unwilling to break up his army in favour of the townsfolk, as they held the border with the Byzantine Empire on the one side and the coast on the other. As the hold of the Frankish rulers on Istria weakened, the Bishops of Porec became stronger and emerged as strong feudal lords who took over the city and extended and confirmed their rule in some other areas of lstria (for example, Pazin). The Patriarch of Aquileia made good use of the conflicts and disagreements between the Porec city elders and the bishops and brought the city under his own authority in 1232. Conflict between the rich citizens and bishops continued until Porec was conquered by Venice and brought under its control in 1267. Under the Venetians. Porec was the first lstrian town to fall under Venetian rule. Other towns were conquered in the period up to 1420, by which time Venice had finally rounded off its lstrian possessions, occupying all the port towns from Koper to Plomin. During the war between Genoa and Venice, the Genoans sacked the city and carried away the relics of St. Maurus, the Patron Saint of Porec (1354). As well as by wars (with the Genoans, the Uskoks of Senj, the Turks and various pirates) Porec was frequently decimated by the plague in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries, so that its population fell from 3000 at the time of the Venetian occupation to lO0 in the l7th century. For this reason the Venetians brought in people from Dalmatia, Bosnia, Montenegro and Albania to populate itury the desolate city and its surroundings. The Decumanus the main street in Porec, has been preserved as the main east-west route right from prehistoric times when Porec was already a port. It became the main street in the Roman army camp, stretching from the tip of the peninsula and continuing to the temples at the end. When the Roman settlement Oppidum was built, this route became its main street (Decumanus Maximus) and was intersected (north-south) by the Cardo. The Decumanus ended in a forum (in fact 2 forums). Marafor Square is on the site of the ancient forum. It covers the area of an insula (45X45m). Some of the original paving of the forum is still intact today, and some houses on the square have no foundations as they have been built directly onto the stones of the forum.

The Basilica of Euphrasius

This is actually a complex of buildings constituting a rare example of early Christian (early Byzantine) architecture. The building was consecrated by Bishop Euphrasius in the 6th century and now consists of 21 four sided atrium, an octagonal baptistery (to the West of the atrium), a triple-naved basilica, joined to a trefoilshaped memorial chapel, an elliptical narthex (to the east) and the Bishop’s Palace (to the north). The atrium was built after the basilica and is covered on all four sides by a portico which houses a rich collection of stone monuments. On the upper parts of the facade to the west and east, some traces of old mosaics still remain. The present ones were restored in the 19th century. The baptistery was built in the 5th century together with the pre-Euphrasian basilica, and underwent considerable alterations during the building of the Euphrasian basilica in the 6th century. It is an octagonal building, in the centre of which is the font, also octagonal, a hollow which was used by Christian converts who were baptised by total immersion. It appears that the baptistery was in use in this way right up the middle of the 15th century. After the walls of the baptistery in Zadar were destroyed in the Second World War, this became the only remaining remnant of early Christianity of its kind still intact in Croatia. Alongside the baptistery a bell tower was built in the 16th century and from the top of it there is a splendid view over Porec, the surrounding countryside and the sea. The Euphrasian basilica has for the most part retained its original shape but accidents, fires and earthquakes have altered a few details. Following the earthquake in 1440 the southern wall of the central nave of the basilica was restored, so that in place of the windows, which were destroyed, windows were built in the Gothic style. The ciborium in the sanctuary was built in 1277 and the stone altar rail has been reconstructed from fragments of the original. In the course of its long history the Euphrasian basilica has seen many changes. Since it is the third church to be built on the same site, it conceals previous buildings, for example the great floor mosaic of the previous basilica from the 5th century. A novelty of the Euphrasian basilica is that rather than being enclosed by a straight wall, as all sacred buildings were up to that time, it makes use of the breadth and length of the apse of the central nave, built in the shape of a polygon from the outside, whilst the two aisles end in smaller semicircular apses, hollowed into the Wall. Thus the Euphrasian basilica is the earliest example of a triple apsed church in Western Europe. The capitals in the basilica and atrium are typical examples of Byzantine architecture, as are the columns and tiles on the altar rail and the abundant mosaics. The best preserved mosaics are in the central apse, and they are also the most significant remains of the monumental art of the 6th century. Most impressive of all is the representation of Christ with the Apostles, and beneath it a frieze of 13 medallions with a picture of Christ as the Lamb in the centre, surrounded by 12 medallions depicting various martyrs. The mosaics at the foot of the apse and the rich encrustations were brought from the Temple of Neptune, whilst the stucco and plastic work are from the time of Euphrasius. In the half dome of the apse there is a beautiful composition showing the Madonna on a throne, surrounded by the martyrs and the builder of the basilica, Bishop Euphrasius. In the centre of the apse there are representations of scenes from Maryls life, the Annunciation and the Visitation. The Bishop’s Palace was also built in the 6th century, but very little remains of the original building. The side chapels of the basilica were built later, in the 17th and 19th centuries. Near the Basilica is the Porec parish collection, with forty-odd exhibits, some of which are important fragments of mosaic (the oldest coming from the 3rd century), crosses (13th century), choir stalls and some altar pieces (15th to 17th centuries). Because of its great value as a monument, the Basilica has been placed by UNESCO on its list of sites of the World’s cultural heritage.

Motovun –  is 24 km inland from Poreč, population 1 000 inhabitants.The town grew up on the site of an ancient city (Kastelijer) 277m above sea level. In the 10th and llth centuries it belonged to the Bishop of Porec. From 1278 it was taken over by Venice and surrounded by solid walls which are still intact today, and are now used as a walkway with unique views over the four corners of Istria. Below the old buildings in the centre of the town, suburbs grew up on the south west with Gothic gates. The suburbs retain both Romanesque and Gothic elements in their architecture. All three parts of the town are connected by a system of internal and external fortifications with towers and city gates, built between the 14th and 17th centuries, and containing elements of Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance styles. The main square, which is reached by crossing the outer square and is situated between two towers with a city gate is dominated by a huge bell tower, separate from the church, which was used as a watchtower and contains some old breastplates. It was built in the 13th century. On the broad square itself is the Parish Church of St. Stephen (Sveti Stjepan) built right at the beginning of the 17th century according to sketches by the well—known Venetian architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580). A Renaissance loggia built in the 17th century hangs from the eastern city wall. Most of the remaining buildings were built during the 16th and 17th centuries. In the entrance hall of the Renaissance city keep built in the 16th century is a collection of stone monuments showing finds from Roman times (grave stones and cippi), fragments of medieval inscriptions and the arms of various Motovun families. The coats of arms on the inside and outside of the keep belong to Venetian families, who were leading citizens when the tower was built‘ In Motovun in 1475, Andrea Antico was born (Antiquus, de Antiquis, Andrija Motovunjanin, presumed Croatian surname Staric). Antico is famous as the inventor of the first movable wooden types for printing musical scores and was in general the first publisher of scores. He started publishing in Rome in 1510, and after obtaining a patent from Pope Leo X he published polyphonic music and music for the organ. He published his last collection in Venice in 1539. He was also a composer.

Veli Joze and Motovun. Motovun is known among today’s population of Istria as the city of Veli Joze, the good, gentle giant who represents the Croatian people of Istria. The story written by Vladimir Nazor, one of the most important of Croatian writers of the 20th century, was a response to the national struggles of the Croats for equality (1900- 1914). The tale is known today throughout Croatia, while the character of Veli Joze (Big Joe) is quite correctly linked with the city of Motovun. Motovun was the battlefield where the poor and the rich minority fought. And the character of Veli Joze and his creator Vladimir Nazor became symbols of national resistance, the fight for freedom and the brotherhood of all the inhabitants of Istria, Croats and Italians, 1 during the national struggle against fascism. The Forest of Motovun. An area of about 10 square kilome- tres in the valley of the River Mirna, below the town of Motovun, of which about 280 hectares (2.8 kmz) is specially protected. This area differs completely not only from the nearby forests but also from those of the entire surrounding karst region because of its wild life and its moist soil. The most common tree in the forest is the English or brown oak (Quercus robur) and it is thus comparable to the Slavonian oak forests. In order to preserve natural conditions for the development of the Motovun forest, the protected area is occasionally flooded, even though the River Mirna is controlled and its entire valley protected from flooding. The Forest of Motovun is well known for the rare and expensive fungus truffle (Tuber magnatum) which grows successfully there. Since this fungus grows underground, it is gathered with the aid of specially trained dogs.