Cultural sights

Summer Residence of the Poreč Bishops (Castle)

In the immediate vicinity of the parish church there is a monumental palace thet used to be the summer residence of the Poreč Bishops. On this strategic location the Poreč Bishops had at first built some modest Romanesque palace (12th/13th century). In the centuries to come the original palace was continuosly being reconstructed and enlarged. In fact, the conteporary palace arose after reconstructions of the original Romanesque castle in the period between the 14th and 18th century. It is not quite clear how the palace orginated. In the architecture of the building traces of different styles can be found-from the Romanesque till the Baroque. The palace was fortified, therefore in documents it was named 'castrum' (fortification, fortified castle). The castle of the defensive walls have been preserved till the present days. In the south there are two slender observation towers from the 13th century having a square ground-plan and being provived with loop-hotels. On the facade of the left tower there is a slarium dial. The palace consisted of numerous rooms (for the Bishops, servants and guests). In the ground floor wine and oil presses were situated, as well as baking ovens, water cisterns and store-room for agricultural products such as oil, wineand corn produced on the Bishops' fields around Vrsar. A stable for horses and mules was also part of the palace. In one tower there was probably a prison for disobedient citizens. The Bishops used the palace as the summer residence, but sometimes also as a refuge ('refugium'). At inconvenient times (e.g. during war or plague) the Poreč Bishops used to leave Poreč and come to Vrsar. During the riots in Poreč in 1299 the bishop Bonifacius took refuge here. On the other hand, some Bishops were constantly dwelling in Vrsar. In the 17th century the Bishop Ruggiero Tritoni moved from the unsound malarial Poreč and settled down in Vrsar (1632 – 1644). He died and was buried here. Likewise the Bishop Gianbattista de Giudice lived and died in Vrsar (1644 – 1666). Whenever the Bishops were entering or leaving Vrsar, their peasants were obliged to carry their luggege without any charge. In one document dating from 1577 it says: 'They (peasants of Vrsar) are also obliged to carry the Bishop's luggage without any charge whenever the Bishop is coming to the castle or is leaving it'.The palace was sometimes visited by high ecclesiastic personalities and statesman. Here the Poreč Bishops used to hold synods for the local clergy. In the presence of prominent persons the Bishops sometimes issued important documents. At the beginning of a document issued by the Bishop Oton in 1288 it says: ACTUM EST HOCH IN TURRI CASTRI URSARIAE... (This was made in the tower of the Vrsar castle). At the end of the 18th century (1778) the Venetian Republic abolished the church county of the Poreč Bishops and the palace became Venetian state property. At the height of the Venetian rule over Vrsar (1778 – 1797) the palace was occasionally inhabited by the Venetian major of the municipality of St. Lovreč, to which Vrsar wasannexed after abolishment of the Bishops' rule. In a decree issued in 1793 by the Venetian central authority the major of St. Lovreč, named Palma, was given permission to spend a few months a year in Vrsar because of its healthy climate. On that ocasion the renovation of the palace was ordered. In the 19th century the palace was conveyed to the patrician family Vergottini from Poreč. During the 20th century the palace has begun to crumble, so nowadays it is a ruin crying for renovation.