I had Poreč on the brain. But unlike Pula, I knew why. When I was in Israel, I’d heard about the famous mosaic tiles that dated back to the Byzantine era and they’ve been on my list since. What I wasn’t prepared for was the town itself, its narrow Roman streets, its Venetian-style houses, and it’s lovely waterfront. The Adriatic coast is rather lovely and, dotted as it is with myriad islands, it creates (or in my case, reignites) a fancy to live in seclusion in the midst of the sea but within sight of land. The best of everything.
The town’s main attraction is the Euphrasian Basilica, home to the world-famous mosaic floors. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and listed as one of Europe’s ‘finest intact examples of Byzantine art’. It’s massive, so be ready to spend a couple of hours navigating the church, the atrium, and the baptistery. Climbing the 122 steps of the bell tower is worth the effort. The panoramic views of the town and the sea are spectacular.
The first church on the site, a bit of which are still to be seen, dates back to the fourth century. But back to the floors. The detail is incredible. To think that these tiny pieces of stone were pieced together hundreds of years ago and are still there, still together, still weathering the tests of time.
While I was walking through the place, I was thinking wow, wow, wow, it’s still standing! And they did all this without electricity. The Bishop’s Palace is now home to a museum of religious artefacts, all of them older than old, too. It’s hard in a way to get your head around the age of everything because it all looks so well.
The church itself is the last stop on what was already a tour that I can see repeating. Coming in at the top to the side of the altar, you don’t get the immediate full wow effect. For that you need to walk down the aisle and look back. Some of the original murals are still visible. The floor has been raised with the original still visible underneath. The sixth century. 1700 years ago. All without electricity or drills or every other modern convenience we have today. Mad, isn’t it?