Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Roaming Around the Old Venetian Republic, Part 1: Poreč, Croatia

Because this is a blog whose focus is Venice, the title of this post emphasizes that connection. But as the 6th-century mosaics featured today make abundantly clear, the rich history of Poreč (or Parenzo in Italian) began long before it became the first Istrian city to join the Republic of San Marco in 1267.

Indeed, the area has been inhabited since prehistoric times, though it was Emperor Augustus who put the city on the map, and there are still Roman ruins to been seen around town. It was while the city was part of the Byzantine empire that the Euphrasian Basilica--the subject of all but one of the images above and below--came into being as we now know it. It was a rebuilding of a 4th century church upon a site which, to this day, also retains a floor mosaic from Roman times.
Poreč itself is actually the first stop made by the ferry from Venice that I mentioned in my previous post; the town of Rovinj (pictured in that previous post) is its second stop. There's more than one ferry company that makes these runs across the Adriatic during the warmer months of the year, but we took Venezia Lines ( and found the crew friendly and the ship comfortable. (In fact, we splurged a bit and for an extra 15 euro each sat in the large catamaran's upper salon, where the seats were more spacious and which included a few small club chairs around two tables--good for playing cards with kids--and banquette seating as well.)

The voyage from Venice (the San Basilio terminal at the end of the Zattere) to Poreč  takes less than 3 hours (arriving at 9 pm), and it's not hard to imagine spending one night in Poreč , taking in its sights the next morning, then taking the bus (which costs just 36 kuna--less than 5 euro) to Rovinj. It's a pleasant, air-conditioned trip of less than one hour. 

In sharp contrast to Venice, Poreč  is a town whose points of interest can comfortably be seen in part of a day, and I found the Euphrasian Basilica alone--a UNESCO World Heritage Site ( and considered to contain "among the finest examples of Byzantine art in the world" according to Wikipedia--to be well worth a trip. 

But our base for last week's trip was actually Rovinj, and it's to that old city of the old Venetian Republic that I'll turn my attention in the next post. 


One of the extremely rare depictions of a visibly pregnant Mary, at left (visiting with her sister Elizabeth)

A view of the basilica--whose exterior is also partly decorated with mosaics--from its lovely courtyard
A building with a pair of Venetian trefoil windows along one of the two axial roads laid out by the Romans

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