Rovinj - Rovigno
Churches and Cemeteries


Photographed by Marisa Ciceran, August 17, 2000

Our Lady of Mercy

When it was reconstructed, probably in 1584, it was a small chapel covered by stone slabs. In 1707, to honor the Madonna in a more worthy way, the chapel was enlarged and the narrow porch (loggia) was created which bears the coat of arms of the mayor Scipione Benzone (1584). The altar, in lovely marble, is from 1714 and contains the tomb of Countess Califfi. A 16th century painting of the Madonna and Child has a prominent position on the altar.

The church was restored in 1750 and in 1979 it was returned to use, presenting itself today in optimal restored condition. It is in active use.

1930s postcard

In this 1910 postcard, we see the road leading up to the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy (far right). During Austrian rule, this was the final section of the "Royal Post Road" from Pazin. To the left, we see a Rovinj cart, in the background are the gardens and the "D. Pergolis" home for the aged and infirm.

Chapel of the Holy Trinity

The most important monument of Rovinj is the Chapel of the Holy Trinity, the sole Romanesque edifice of neo-Latin style that is in coastal Istria from the 13th century. It is an heptagonal shrine with bare stone walls and a cupola ceiling. It was restored in 1779 and in 1963, at which time the roof was reconstructed and the wall were restored. Then, in 1980, the interior was restructured and became an exhibition hall for archeological artifacts from the demolished Church of St. Peter in Fňntera. The interior was plastered over many times and its original style altered. Under the painted walls are sacred reproductions, ingenious mural decorations from the Middle Ages. 

Considering its heptagonal form, Kandler presumes that the chapel was in reality a baptistry whose construction could be from the 9th century, an opinion that is generally shared by modern scholars, wherease Reverend Caenazzo contradicts Kandler, asserting that for a baptistry  it was located very far from the Collegiate Church of St. Euphemia. The only window that remains, however, with its rather narrow arch, bear the transitional sign of the 12-13th century epoch when Gothic arts initiated. It is thus deduced that it was built in that later Gothic period.

Christ, who is represented on this window of laced stonework (rosetta), with an angel that opens its wings upon Him, is encircled by Maria, St. Peter, and two other apostles. The denuded Christ, nailed to the cross with three nails instead of four, revealing an artistic and human repentance that only in the 11th century agreed to represent the passion of Golgotha in its most agonizing reality. The structure today is still well preserved in its best restructured condition.

In this postcard of the 1920s, Carducci Street is photographed showing a typical Rovinj horse cart, transporting a "kašelana", a large horizontal barrel used for carrying grapes from the vineyards to the winery. To the left is the Luttmann Inn, and to the right is the Romanesque church of the Holy Trinity (now missing its belfry), the earliest religious monument in Rovnj. The magnificent building of the "new school" can be seen in the background.

St. Pelagius

The "new" church of St. Pelagius was built in 1908 in the area of what was then the Sailors' Home and is now the Martin Horvat Hospital for Orthopedic Surgery. Although the church was built twenty years after the hospital, which was designed by Wilhelm Stiasny of Vienna, it might have been designed by the same person. 

The general plan, the dome and the steeples have a Mediterranean flavour, while various decorative features recall Viennese taste of the beginning of the century. It is in the shape of a cross, with a large dome and an altar with a painting of the "Stella Maris" Madonna and an organ which no longer works. 

The pointed facade has a large rose window and is flanked by twin steeples rising to a height of 20 metres. Both are decorated with pilaster strips and have a large clock. The belfries have mullioned windows with two lights closed by "Venetian blinds" and a cornice decorated with hanging arches. Tall spires on square bases crown the towers.

Town officials of Rovinj and Vienna on May 8, 1909, on the day of the ceremonial opening of new pavilions at the seaside clinic, successfully achieved thanks to the participation of the city of Vienna and its mayor Karl Lueger.

The pavilions of the hospital and the Church of St. Pelagius, erected in 1908 to the right of Mucia point at the urging of Karl Lueger. The hospital was then called °the Maritime Hospice St. Pelagius of the City of Vienna°. On the plank bridge: the city officials, certainly on the occasion of the opening of the structures in May 1909.

Recreation at the hospital under the care of nuns. On the left, the Church of St. Pelagious with its elegant lateral belltowers.

St. Andrew

Thanks to the works carried out after 1890 by the Hutterot family, the island of S. Andrea is nowadays one of the main tourist attractions on the coast of Istria. 

All that is left of the old Benedictine, and later Franciscan, monastery complex are the dome of the church and some sections of the monastery, including most of the cloister. The steeple has large mullioned windows with single lights in the belfry and a low drum supporting the spire.

St. John in Pelago

On the island of St. John there are now only the ruins of the little church of St. John in Pelago, which used to be attached to what, until 1668, was the hospice of the Hermits of St. Jerome of the Congregation of Fiesole. 

However, the steeple is still standing and the edges are finely picked out in white limestone, as are the long windows, the twin lights in the mullioned windows of the belfry and the top of the spire set on a square base.

St. Francis of Assisi

Along de Amicis road one arrives at the Franciscan Monastary with its Church of St. Francis is on de Amicis Road. The monastery was erected between 1700 and 1702 at the city's expense. It was created, however, to be a retirement home attended by monks that were called there expressly for such purpose, and it was only in 1746 was transformed into a monastery.

The church was consecrated in 1750. It is of a single nave, tall and majestic. The main altar located in the apse is bounded by a grand arch, and has an elegant presence with a gallery that covers the tabernacle, on top of which hangs a crown. Behind the altar the semicircular chorus is dominated by a large painting of the Blessed Virgin Man, the Holy Child and St. Bonaventure. It has two side altars dedicated to St. Peter of Alcantara and to the Holy Crucifix. The exterior facade is majestic with the crescent stair and door that are flanked by a large window. The church was subjected to a restorative intervention in 1926.

See also: Erbario di Rovigno e amari con le erbe

In this old postcard we see the Square of St. Francis of Assisi, with the church of the same name, and on the right is the Public School  building (the so-called "old school" finished in 1839-40). Boys were taught in one wing, and the girls in the other. The square had a special paving with a visible central divider strip.

Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Conception

Adjacent to the church, which is accessible behind the main altar, is the Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Conception with its entrance on the former St. Peter Street which was at one time called the Way of the Cross. The convent's library has custody of ancient texts of considerable value.

The broad nave is separated from the presbytery by a large triumphal arch. The church contains the remains of St. Candida, and the three altars bear fine paintings of the 16th century. The organ dates from 1882 and was restored and modified in 1908. A hospice used to stand next to the church, which was converted into a Franciscan monastery in 1746. The steeple, which is incorporated in the church, is partitioned by two cornices and edged with white stone. The belfry has mullioned windows with single lights and is surmounted by a low-pitched roof with four faces.

St. John Bosco

To the right of the Chapel of the Trinity, in an easterly direction lies the via Benussi, formerly strada della Fontana (Fountain street), which crosses the circumvallation; continuing to the left, near the hanball court, one finds the Church of St. John Bosco. It once was a small house that was transformed into a church between 1913 and 1916. It was restored in 1939 by the Salesiani and was followed in 1979 by modifications of the interior. It is well-preserved and it is currently officiated.

St. Nicholas of Bari / St. Nicholas in Punta

Still in existence today on the large square of the Squergi and in a good state of conservation, is the Church of St.  Nicholas of Bari,  the protector of sailors. It is also called St. Nicholas in Punta. This church dating from 1364, as recalls a copy of the memorial stone inserted in the facade which was later destroyed, commissioned by Father Mark, provost of Rovigno, had a small cemetery in absentia, where were buried those who died on ships or in contumacy; the people who were not present  could follow the mass only in this church. Under French rule, in 1810, it was converted to a guard's barracks for the battery of cannons that defended the port of St. Catherine. With the departure of the French the church was left abandoned and went into ruin. Only in 1860 was it reconstructed to its original form by the action and paid for by the Sailor's Brotherhood. The gold-painted wooden statue of the Saint, safeguarded for fifty years by the Bori family that lived nearby, was brought back to the church after it was re-consecrated in 1860.

St. Joseph

At the end of the incline of the Grisia, where at one time there was the entrance to the primitive cemetery, today is found the old church of St. Joseph, behind the parish; which the Rovignesi call St. Iseppo. It was erected in 1673 and was not demolished during the construction of the new church due to the intervention of the Caenazzo [family]. It is rectangular in shape, with a single gable bell tower on the front facade. Around 1725 it was devastated and, therefore, de-consecrated. Today it is in good state of conservation but religious rites are no longer celebrated here. In the 18th century, while closed, it was used by the Brotherhood of St. Frances, called of the Flagellants ( Battuti), until 1777. It was then obtained by the small congregation of St. Thomas, who used it at times solely for their meetings. In 1860, after a faithful restoration it was restored for worship. The interior reveals a beautiful wood altar which was recently restored in 1978.

St. Thomas

The Church of St. Thomas, with a raised entrance that is accessed by a stair, carries on its facade a single gable bell tower. Very small, it was constructed in 1388 by the aforementioned Brotherhood of the same name. It was reconstructed and enlarged in 1723 with its lower portico that still exists today, under which passes the main street. It was later restored in l770 by the Brotherhood of St. Frances, or by the Battuti  who had combined with the old Brotherhoodof St. Thomas. In the second half of the 18th century, the Rovignese architect Simon Battistella decorated the soffit of the hall  with works in stucco. In 1856 the church experienced yet another partial restoration and then in time was abandoned semidilapidated, with the roof, in partial collapse. It was restored and its functions put back in working order in 1963. It is a building with three apses, polygonal on the exterior and semi-circular in the interior.

Our Lady of Perpetual Health

The relatively recent Church of Our Lady of Good Health has a copy of the "Altarpiece of Health" [in Madonna della Salute] in Venice. It was commissioned by the Biondi family in 1779 based on the designs of the architect Battistella. Among the tapestries that adorned it was one dedicated to St. Frances of Sales. It is today in excellent condition.

Holy Cross

Constructed in 1592 along the shore, the small Church of the Holy Cross, in bare stone walls with a one-gable belltower on its facade, has a small loggia magnificently placed to view the panorama of the Island of St. Catherine. In the church interior is an altar-piece that represents the Stations of the Cross. Around 1870 there was a request made to the  municipality to have the church converted to a warehouse, such threat being averted  by its 1875 acquisition by the Pergolis family who lived in the attached building. It was restored in 1965 and the loggia was refitted in 1975 as a small lapidary. The church today is in good condition and still officiated.

Near the small church, along the shore and rocky reef opens up a small inlet that has traditionally been believed to be the site where the ark of St. Euphemia was pulled out of the waters. This spot is called Arno di S. Eufemia. In 1720, in commemoration of this miraculous event, Mayor Premarin of the city commissioned that a memorial pillar be erected on this site during a renovation of the church. The column has an inscription and an image of the saint.

St. Benedict

Constructed in 1589, the Church of St. Benedict is located in a small field or  small square (piazzaletto), east of the town gate. It is in a rectangular plan with a small gable bell tower. Its windows are covered with well formed patterns in wrought iron. It was officiated by the Protestant monks who every Sunday, with the Crucifix of the church, went to Riva Square, today called trg Tito, and there preached from a pulpit. With the arrival of the French this secular tradition ended. The church is well preserved, has been recently restored, and the mass is officiated during anniversaries.

The postcard [pictured above, right] was taken around 1900 and depicts an unusual  presentation of children from the neighboring streets. On the left foreground is a 17th century building with a balcony. [Click image to enlarge.]

St. Charles

The wide road that heads south, after Gortan Street, the ancient quarter of Saint Martin, inhabited after  1650, is today still called Carrera. The road was broadened in 1700 and paved in 1777. It is the secondary road that leads to Bale (Valle) and then to Pula (Pola). Along this district there are a number of churches which, at the time when the road was carried out were found in open countryside. Along the first tract of the road, on the left, is the Church of St. Charles which, when constructed between 1650 and 1660, was surrounded by only three house. It is a simple design and contains in the interior two funerary arches at ground level, executed by the Piccoli family in 1697. This church contained the figurative (or metaphorical) altar from the Church of the Madonna della Neve and the altar piece of St. Lawrence, which churches had collapsed. The Church of St. Charles has been restored and reconstructed in 1944 and, not being officiated, is used for secondary activities. Today, all the furnishings are stored in the parish warehouse.

St. Martin

South of de Amicis Road, halfway down on Gortan Road and on the right side is the small Church of St. Martin with a small courtyard in front of it, and it gives its name to the district. The church appears to have already existed in 1589, and was annexed to the Brotherhood of Hoers [Zappatori].  The church was restored in 1862 and contains a beautiful wooden altar from 1710. It is in good condition today.

Oratory of our Lady of Sorrow [Addolorata]

Following the S. Chiurco district to the right, there is a small square which at one time was known as Madonna Square, that gave its name to the district, which was later named after the Oratory. We find here the small church of our Lady of Mercy, also know as the Blessed Virgin of Mercy, which was erected adjacent to the old hospital which, from 1707, was reserved solely for women. Originally, the church was named Blessed Virgin of Campognano o Campoanana and Blessed Virgin of the Hospital.

The church and hospital were constructed by the "Brotherhood of the Madonna of the Campagnano or Madonna of the Field", founded in 1323. It was the first Brotherhood of Rovigno and it had its own statute that dates to that same year. Called "mariegola", the Brotherhood ceased to exist in 1807. The church was constructed in 1482, whereas the hospital was erected in 1477, when when the administrator of the patrimony of the poor of this Brotherhood Matteo Dotario, for whom the hospital was named. The small church has a beautiful altar made of stone from Vrsar (Orsera), built in 1788 by Giuseppe Mattiussi of Udine, and it includes a beautiful green marble column.

Attached to the church were the premises of the hospital which was enlarged in 1707 and then again in 1716. On top of this and partially over the church there was an Oratory dedicated to the Madonna of the Seven Sorrows or Blessed Virgin of Tears. Even the oratory predates 1600, wherein was taught Christian doctrine, and it was annexed to the Brotherhood of St. Philip. It was restored in 1858. In 1940, the entire complex, church and oratory, were restructured: the existing chapel and the stone stairway were removed, and the 1482 chapel was broadened to unite the contiguous buildings.

Today, the structure has two entrances, one on Chiurco Street and the other in the road below Svalba Way, the ancient distrist of Dietrocastello.  The two existing structures today form a single church with the name Oratorio of Our Lady of Sorrow and the church is in active use. The location of the demolished chapel of the Blessed Virgin of Mercy is now the churchyard of the church of the Oratory and is called Madonna Square.

Blessed Virgin Mary of Carmel / Madonna of Carmine

Before the crossing with Concetta Street, there is a small road to the left and towards the east  that goes to the Church of the Bless Virgin of Carmelo or Madonna of Carmine which gave its name to the district. It was built in 1877 at the expense of the Quarantotto family who acquired a family tomb for it. It is a church entirely made of regular stone courses, in a rectangular plan with a bull's eye window over the door which is flanked by two large pointed arch windows. The church is in good condition.


Continuing on the road that leads to Concetta, is the new cemetery of St. Gottard or of the "Lastre" with a church bearing the same name. An older church once stood here that dated from 1589, and which was completely restructrured in 1749 courtesy of the municipality. In 1857, during an epidemic of typhoid, the Comune began to bury the dead on the adjacent lands and, as an outcome, the grounds of St. Gottard were surrounded by a wall. in 1828. In 1931, the church was desecrated and assigned to the Italo-German Institute of Marine Biology. In its place in the cemetery of the "Laste", the small mortuary Church of the Redentor was erected.

S. Salvatore

Dating back to 1650 or even earlier, the replacement of the drawbridge with an arched one made of a stone, under which small boats could pass from one port to another. In 1843, the beautiful Bridge Tower was demolished. Continguous with it, towards Riva Square, was a small church that was constructed in 1547 and dedicated to St. Salvatore or to the transfiguration, according to its altarpiece. It ceased to be officiated in 1717 and was then demolished in 1820. The small church contained La chiesetta contained the tomb of the family of the family of the Capitano di terra [captain of the guards or ground troops?] Nicolň Calucci which dated from 1622. In 1763, for reasons of sanitation, it was decided to demolish the stone bridge and to fill in the canal with earth. Thus were created two new squares on solid ground.

See also:

  • San Eufemia di Rovigno di Gianclaudio de Angelini (Italiano)-
  • The Parish Church at Rovinj, Photo Gallery -


  • Text and drawings - Dario Alberi. ISTRIA - storia, arte, cultura. LINT (Trieste, 1997), p. 1500-40. All copyrights reserved
  • Photograph of Our Lady of Mercy - Marisa Ciceran
  • Photograph of St. Benedict -
  • Old postcards - D. Načinović & M. Budicin, Rovinj - Old Postcards, Zavičajna Naklada "Žakan Juri", Center for Historical Research (Rovinj, 1998)
  • Photograph of St. Nicholas - courtesy of Claudio de Angelini 

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This page compliments of Marisa Ciceran and Guido Villa

Created: Sunday, September 15, 2002; Last updated: Tuesday, October 06, 2015
Copyright © 1998, USA