Image by John Elk Getty Images
Top billing in Poreč goes to the 6th-century Euphrasian Basilica, a World Heritage Site and one of Europe’s finest intact examples of Byzantine art. Built on the site of a 4th-century oratory, the complex includes a church, an atrium and a baptistery. The glittering 6th-century mosaics in the apse of the church are the highlights. The belfry, accessed through the octagonal baptistery, affords an intimate view of the old town.
Gazing at the mosaics, note how Jesus and the Apostles on the top row are balanced by a set of 12 female saints in the arch, with the Lamb of God at their apex. The main group, in the curve of the apse itself, is centred on the Madonna and Child flanked by angels, saints and Bishop Euphrasius (to the left, holding a model of the church), who commissioned the basilica. Beneath the mosaics, the sanctuary is enclosed by beautifully inlaid marble arranged in geometric patterns. Also note the capitals of the columns supporting the Romanesque arches of the nave; each matched pair is different, carved with birds, flowers and fruit.
Make sure to pop into the adjacent Bishop's Palace, which contains a display of ancient stone sculptures, religious paintings and 4th-century mosaics from the original oratory.