Rovinj, Croatia - May 22, 2018: St. Euphemia's Basilica, Rovinj, Croatia. Аn ancient church with a bell tower.; Shutterstock ID 1138512785; Your name (First / Last): Anna Tyler; GL account no.: 65050; Netsuite department name: Online Editorial; Full Product or Project name including edition: destination-image-southern-europe

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St Euphemia's Church

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Built from 1725 to 1736, this imposing structure – the largest baroque church in Istria – dominates Rovinj from its hilltop location in the middle of the old town. Its 61m-high bell tower is older than the present church; construction commenced in 1654 and lasted 26 years. It's modelled on the campanile of St Mark’s in Venice, and is topped by a 4m copper statue of St Euphemia, who shows the direction of the wind by turning on a spindle.

Inside the church, there are various notable artworks and ceiling frescoes above the sanctuary.

The body of St Euphemia is said to rest in the ancient Roman sarcophagus behind the right-hand altar. Rovinj’s patron saint was tortured for her faith by the Emperor Diocletian before being thrown to the lions in AD 304. Her body was kept in Constantinople (present-day Istanbul) until the 7th century, when it was removed to protect it from iconoclasts. According to local legend, it then appeared off the coast of Rovinj in a spectral boat. The townspeople were unable to budge the heavy sarcophagus until a small boy appeared with two calves and moved it to the top of the hill.