A little west of the central Istrian town of Pazin, just outside the tiny village of Beram, the Church of St Mary of the Rocks contains an outstanding cycle of 15th century frescoes, which few visitors to Croatia ever see, or even hear of. The work of a certain Vincent of Kastav, the frescoes date from 1474, and include an extraordinary ‘Dance of the Dead’, pictured here. They were only discovered beneath a layer of plaster in 1913, and as a consequence are remarkably well preserved.
Churches such as this, and others in the central part of Istria with interesting frescoes – there are several – are usually locked, meaning that in order to visit them one needs to contact a local keyholder (contact details can be found through the Central Istrian Tourist Office in Pazin). This is Josip Zanelli, keyholder of the church of Sv Roc with its cycle of 16th century frescoes, in Draguc:
I’m looking forward to revisiting these and other places in central Istria when I return there in a few weeks, to finish work on a new Istria guidebook for Bradt.
Photos © Rudolf Abraham. No unauthorized use.