Pirano - Piran
Churches and Cemeteries


Source: http://flickr.com/photos/max_sang/260909002/

The Duomo

The Cathedral, the parish church of St. George, is dedicated to the patron of the city of Pirano and is composed of three distinct constructions laid out in a row.  From east to west they are:  the church, the belltower and the baptistery.  The church, which has a single nave, was begun in the year 1317 and was rebuilt and finished in 1637.  By the time of its completion, it had assumed a Venetian Baroque appearance.  Located on a hill 36 meters high in a grassy enclave, it is belted by a wall constructed in 1696.  From this point it enjoys a fantastic view, dominating the area on the northern coast of the peninsula, and constitutes the distinctive note for the entire region of Pirano.

Watercolor by Karl Friedrich Schinkel (1803)]

Duomo - Interior

The interior is sumptuous, but in need of repair. To the left, a polychromatic wooden sculpture from the 17th century stands out. Its subject is St. George slaying the dragon. Among its best paintings are the likes of "The Madonna and the Saints" and "The Crucifixion," by Paolo Veneziano, which dates from 1354. For his part, Giuseppe Angeli contributed "The Madonna of the Rosary."  In a place above the sacristy the Cathedral library can be found. It contains the fascinating "Cabinet of Relics," with painted doors from the 15th century. The cabinet shows, on the outside, four figures of the saints in richly carved frames and, on the inside, St. George and St. Martin in a polyptich. The lower part of the polyptich displays the figures of the saints in its niches. In the center is "The Madonna and Child," a valuable Venetian work from 1372.

The Martyrdom of St. George 
G. Pagliarini (1844)

St.George, Protector of the City
de Coster (1706)

The Madonna and the Holy Protectors

 The Madonna and the Saints
Veneziano (1778), M. Furlanetto

The handsome belltower is built from sandstone, with three sets of limestone balustrades, and has a high spire surmounted with a statue of St. Michael. It rises sharply between the rounded apse of the church and the baptistery. It was constructed in 1608 in imitation of the tower of St. Mark's, in Venice.

Behind the belltower is the baptistery, an octagonal chapel from the 9th century, or possibly earlier, perhaps from the 5th or 6th century.  On the outside it has been rebuilt, but not well. The facade has been treated with white marble and the entryway and sides in limestone.  Above the facade are placed two stone slabs, ornamented with intricately drilled designs, from the 9th-11th centuries.

The original edifice stood in front the Cathedral, as depicted in two paintings by Carpaccio, from 1518, which are located in the Church of St. Francis, as well as in those attributed to Domenico Tintoretto in the Palazzo Communale. It was rebuilt behind the main church in 1637, a date confirmed by the bishop Naldini, who wrote about it in a work from that time period. On the inside, in the center, there stands a baptismal font made from an "altar," really a Roman sepulcher, from the first half of the 2nd century. The font is located above at the top of a triple flight of stairs.  On the walls of the sarcophagus are sculpted mourning figures.  On its two sides, two carved leaping dolphins ridden by vigorous cherubs that are reminiscent of images on coins from ancient Greece.

To the left is an altar with "The Glory of the Virgin," a nice devotional painting of the Venetian school from the 18th century.  In the baptistery, one can find an attractive group of bronzes from the "Baptism of Christ" of Gian Lorenzo Bernini.  Terracotta drafts of these bronzes are to be found in Rome.

The Apotheosis of St. George
Venetian School of P. Veronese


  • Text: Alberi, Dario. Istria - Storia, Arte, Cultura. Edizioni LINT (Trieste, 1997), page 579.
  • Translation to English: Aaron Gillies.
  • Watercolor: Pirano, Karl Friedrich Schinkel, 1803.
  • Photography: Duomo, Michael Plass, 2001.
  • Images: Scanned postcards that are on sale at the parish.
  • Duomo interior - http://picasaweb.google.com/roiangiul/CapodistriaPirano31Ottobre2006#5109318668280424482: ]

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This page compliments of Michael Plass, Marisa Ciceran and Aaron Gillies

Created: Saturday, November 24, 2001; Last updated: Sunday, January 27, 2013
Copyright © 1998 IstriaNet.org, USA