Church of St. Nicholas at the Forum

A smaller church of St. Nicholas was erected at the eastern approach to the Forum towards the end of the 6th century. The church is located next to a Roman street pavement (so-called decumanus), and on the foundations of an ancient square structure that was probably a tower, judging by its massive foundations.

The single-naved church (measuring 7 x 14 meters) was oriented in a regular manner, with its shrine located on the east in the form of a so-called Ravenna apse (polygonal on the outside, semi-circular on the inside). The lateral walls were strengthened by a series of lesenes placed at an equal distance from one another. Between the lesenes were window openings (with a semi-circular upper section) with simple limestone window lattices. The shrine of the church was decorated with a polychrome floor mosaic featuring interlaced geometrical motifs that formed cross-shaped patterns.

In 1860, during the erection of a bakery oven, most of the floor mosaic from the church of St. Nicholas was destroyed. The church was preserved up to roof level almost to the end of World War II, when it was damaged during a bombing raid, and in 1953 it was demolished to the ground.

This church belongs to a group of similar, small churches (nowadays primarily the homonymous orthodox church in the vicinity of the cathedral), especially from the area of Galižana and Fažana. Churches that feature a polygonal apse were inspired by the basilica of St. Maria Formosa at Pula, which was erected by archbishop Maximianus (546 – 556) from Ravenna, who was of Istrian descent. Istria was included in the Ravenna exarchate, and the church from Ravenna owned land in southern Istria up to the 12th century (so-called fief of S. Apollinare).

Željko Ujčić – Head of the Medieval Collection of the Archaeological Museum of Istria

Typo3 site by Ulisys d.o.o. , 2010.