Euphrasian Basilica

Euphrasian Basilica

Infobox World Heritage Site
WHS = Episcopal Complex of the Euphrasian Basilica in the Historic Centre of Poreč

State Party = CRO
Type = Cultural
Criteria = ii, iii, iv
ID = 809
Region = Europe and North America
Year = 1997
Session = 21st
Link =

The Euphrasian Basilica ( _hr. Eufrazijeva bazilika, _it. Basilica Eufrasiana) is a basilica in Poreč, Croatia. The episcopal complex, including, apart the basilica itself, a sacristy, a baptistery and the bell tower of the nearby archbishop's palace, is one of the best examples of early Byzantine art in the region. Because of its exceptional value, it has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1997.


The earliest basilica was dedicated to Saint Maurus of Parentium and dates back to the second half of the 4th century. The floor mosaic from its oratory, originally part of a large Roman house, is still preserved in the church garden. This oratorium was already expanded in the same century into a church composed of a nave and one aisle ("basilicae geminae"). The fish (symbol of Christ) on the floor mosaic dates from this period. Coins with the portrayal of emperor Valens (365–378), found in the same spot, confirm these dates.

The present basilica, entitled to the Virgin Mary, was built in the 6th century during the period of Bishop Euphrasius. It was built from 553 on the site of the older basilica that had become dilapidated. For the construction, parts of the former church were used and the marble blocks were imported from the coast of the Sea of Marmara. The wall mosaics were executed by Byzantian masters and the floor mosaics by local experts. The construction took about ten years.Euphrasius, holding the church in his arms, is represented on one of the mosaics on the apse, next to St. Maurus.


The basilica is part of a complex with a 6th-century octagonal baptistery, an adjacent 16th-century bell tower, a colonnaded atrium with tombstone slabs and archaeological medieval finds, an episcopal 6th-century residence and a votive chapel.

The two aisles are separated from the nave by 18 elegant Greek marble colonnades with richly sculpted Byzantine and Romanesque capitals, decorated with depictions of animals. They all carry the monogram of Saint Euphrasius. The arches between the capitals are decorated with stucco work.

The church houses also precious holy objects and other artworks from the Palaeo-Christian, Byzantine and Middle Ages periods. A votive chapel, next to the sacristy, holds the relics of Saint Maurus and Saint Eleutherius.


The most striking feature of the basilica are its mosaic, dating from the 6th century, and which are considered amongst the finest examples of Byzantine art in the world. [ [ Unesco: Episcopal Complex of the Euphrasian Basilica in the Historic Centre of Poreč] ]

The mosaics in the triumphal arch over the apse represent Christ; holding an opened book with the text "Ego sum Lux vera" (I am the true light) with the Apostles, each with their attribute, The arch below contains mosaic medallions with the Lamb of God and portraits of twelve female martyrs. The vault over the apse is decorated with mosaics with Mary and Child, sitting on the Heavenly throne, under awreath held by a hand - symbol of God the Father. This is the only surviving depiction of the Mother of God in an early-Christian western basilica. She is flanked by angels, Bishop Euphrasius, holding the model of the church; also local saints are depicted, including St. Maurus, the first bishop of Poreč and the Istrian diocese, and the archdeacon Claudius . [Probably at the time of Diocletian's persecution of the Christians. [ Google translation of Italian text] ] The child between Euphrasius and Claudius is accompanied by the inscription "Euphrasius, son of the archdeacon". All figures stand on a meadow covered with flowers.The central mosaics between the windows of the apse represent the "Annunciation " and the "Visitation". In the Annunciation mosaic an angel raises his hand to indicate a message. In his left hand he holds the staff of a messenger. Mary wears a purplish blue dress and a veil. She holds yarn in her left hand. On the other side the mosaics depicts the visitation of Mary to Elisabeth. Both wear contemporary sacerdotal vestments with a cape full of ribbons. A small female figure is looking from behind the curtain of a house. The three small medallions depict St. John the Baptist, Zacharias and an angel. Between these two large mosaics are smaller mosaics depicting the Young Christ with halo, and two martyrs with their martyr crown. In the northern apse these are probably Cosmas and Damianus, in the south apse Ursus (or another Bishop of Ravenna), and Severus.The front wall of the apse is framed with a narrow decorated band filled with praise of Euphrasius and his works. The lower part of the apse is decorated with stone slabs incrustated with mother-of-pearl. Part of these came from an earlier wainscotting. They consist of 21 fields with 11 different decorations. In the middle stands the bishop's throne, flanked by candlesticks.


The apsis is dominated by the marble ciborium, built in 1277 on the orders of by Otto, Bishop of Poreč. The canopy, decorated with mosaics, is carried by four marble columns that belonged to the previous 6th-century ciborium. The front side of the canopy depicts the Annunciation. In the 15th century Bishop Johann Porečanin ordered in Italy a Renaissance relief for the antependium of the altar, made of gilded silver. The polyptych of the Venetian painter Antonio Vivarini dates from the same period. The "Last Supper", painted by Palma the Younger is a Baroque work.

ee also

*Basilica di San Vitale



*"Poreč - Euphrasius Basilika" (in German) – leaflet on sale in the basilica.

External links

* [ Euphrasius basilica]
* [ - Euphrasian basilica, Porec - tourist info] hr icon en icon it icon
* []
* [ Mosaics]

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