Porec’s UNESCO World Heritage Site – the Euphrasian Basilica
I had never heard of the Euphrasian Basilica, much less did I know that Porec had a UNESCO World Heritage Site (one of seven UNESCO sites in Croatia).
Porec is a small seaside town, similar to both Rovinj and Novigrad in size and geography (all are located on spits of land sticking out into the sea). It’s a pretty place with white limestone pavement and is a popular base for tourists who want a holiday of rest and relaxation on the Istrian coast. It’s a laid back town. What makes it spectacular is the Euphrasian Basilica.
I would usually write a bit about the history of the site. In this case, being a UNESCO site, they’ve done a great job with placards and signs. This placard describes well how today’s present-day Basilica came to be.
The complex, besides the actual Basilica, includes a sacristy, a baptistry, and a bell tower. What makes the Euphrasian Basilica complex so spectacular is its use of mosaics. Floor mosaics covered the original church built in the 4th century (you’ll see them in remnants of them indoors). In the church ‘garden’, you’ll see the mosaic floor of what used to be a Roman house. But the most spectacular use of mosaics is in the apse (the ‘bowl’ above the alter) in the Basilica itself. The apse is not painted as in most churches, it is entirely covered in mosaics of rich tones that sparkle in the light (as you’ll see in photos below). It actually made our jaws drop, something that doesn’t happen often.
The Basilica’s bell tower is worth the small climb for views over Porec. Spanky doesn’t do tower climbs but did it here after being assured that it was an easy and safe climb. It was.
More of Porec
As mentioned above, Porec is a pretty and laid back town that can easily be be explored within an hour or two. A few photos:
Would we recommend a visit to Porec? DEFINITELY. There are two main historical sites in Istria that are a MUST: the Amphitheatre in Pula and the Euphrasian Basilica in Porec.
Practical Information on Porec
Note: You can see all the highlights of Istria (the Amphitheatre in Pula, the Euphrasian Basilica in Porec, and the beautiful town of Rovinj) on this Full-Day tour from Zagreb. It’s expensive but it’s worth it.
Accommodation. Thinking of staying a night or two in Porec? Some recommendations: Boutique Hotel Melissa (classy, beautiful place right in the center), Valamar Riviera Hotel & Residence (right in the center, very nice, good value), Apartman Kika (old town, good value, very nice apartment).
You need a car to get outside Rovinj and explore Istria. Have a look at my post on car rental in Croatia and the most scenic drives.
Have you been to Porec? If so, what did you think of it?
Related: Exploring the highlights of Croatian Istria
Related: Exploring the Best of Central Dalmatia
Related: The Hilltowns of Istria. And which you should visit…
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Really looks like a place worth visiting! Croatia, Montenegro and Albania are quite high on our list of travel destinations. Well, well, we will see. Maybe next year? Thanks for the beautiful pictures.
Thank you Natasha! I love Croatia but also want to go back to Montenegro. Kotor is a place I really enjoy. We’ve also wanted to see Albania – maybe sometime in the future 🙂
looks like a really charming spot Frank!
All those places you spectacularly show in your posts are inviting us to visit someday, lucky you that can see all that beauty, that is the kind of job I would like to do. Thank you for sharing such wonderful photographs and stories.
Thank you Carlos! It’s not a job because nobody is paying me, just a hobby 🙂
Like Patti, I’m in awe of these structures and those who built them. Simply amazing! Porec is an incredible find Frank, falls under the radar for most I imagine. Not mine now thanks to you guys 😉 I’m enjoying your time in Croatia. Cannot wait to see where you take us next.
Thank you Paula! Croatia has a bit of everything. Istria for us is more about hidden gems – it is not as spectacular as parts of Dalmatia – but overall just a great area to relax and enjoy. I think we’ll always come through this area when doing our back and forth between Croatia and the Schengen (as long as that exists!).
The basilica is absolutely freaking stunning! Worth the trip just to see that. The tiles are so well preserved too. I had never heard of Porec .. l love getting history lessons from you, not to mention geography! Love it :-). I am beginning to realize that Croatia can’t be a weekend getaway of sorts..methinks a little more time will be needed. Hopefully we’ll get there next year properly.
You’re right – it’s a big, long country and there’s lots to see. You could explore region by region (like Istria in this case) but you would still really need 10 days minimum. Lots of beauty and history!
Fabulous Basilica, the mosaics are beautiful. I love getting to a higher place to get a birds eye view of a place, even if it is hard to get to the top, the views are usually so rewarding. You have found some great gems to explore in Croatia.
Thank you Gilda!
It’s incredible, isn’t it? The intelligence and ingenuity of those who conceived and built these structures that have stood the test of time. It think it’s a big part of why I find churches, cathedrals, chapels and similar structures so interesting to explore. Whenever I go into an historic building I try to take a couple of moments to just stand or sit and take it in, picturing what it must have been like to walk in the path of those who came before. I love the garden mosaic tiles and it’s amazing they’re still there.
I’m with Spanky, I don’t do tower climbs. Wicked fear of heights. For my birthday – while in Paris – I was determined to climb the tower at Notre Dame. I managed the climb alright, but froze in panic when I stepped out into the open air. Couldn’t move. I hugged the wall while Abi took in the views but then an angel came out of another tower (she worked there) and asked if she could lead me across to the other stairway so I could go down. I’ll never forget her. She was my angel who wreaked of cigarettes. 🙂
I totally agree with your Patti about religious buildings. I’m in no way religious (I actually have quite strong feelings against it), but religious buildings are the best remaining vestiges of architecture in much of the world.
Nice story about the Eiffel tower. Spanky doesn’t have a fear of heights, she just a) doesn’t care so much for the views and can’t be bothered with the effort of getting up there b) hates the tight spiral staircases you get in most towers. She gets very claustrophobic.
OMG, we went to Porec and didn’t go to the Basilica. We were tagging along with our relatives and just enjoying the day together. I didn’t research beforehand. Don’ t you just hate that. I knew the Basilica was there but not of it’s importance…
Oh no, the horror!! 🙂
It happens to us all Jan
I want to go back to Croatia so bad after looking at these photo’s. Glad to hear you made the trek up the tower BBQBoy otherwise we wouldn’t get to see how great the view is from up there! Bravo!
Thanks Nancy 🙂 Croatia’s one of our favorite spots