Thursday, 8 June 2017

Croatia June 2017: Part 2

Being tourists: a few photographs from Porec and a nearby attraction.
The Euphrasian Basilica in Porec is really an episcopal complex, including, apart from the basilica itself, a sacristy, a baptistery and the bell tower of the nearby archbishop's palace. Collectively it's a good example of early Byzantine architecture in this part of the Mediterranean and, because of this, it has World Heritage Site status. The photograph shows the 16th Century bell tower......
... that you can climb up via 200 steep steps to see the bells. Four bells to be exact. Four big bells.
Apart from the bells, you get a good view over the Old Town from up there as well. If I'd said this was in Italy, you've believe me, wouldn't you?
The basilica dates from the 6th Century and even then it was built partially on the site of  a Roman villa, the fine mosaics of which can still be seen. This is the tomb of Bishop Euphrasius, who commissioned the building of the basilica.

The most striking feature of the basilica are its mosaics, dating from the 6th century. These are just a few of them and they really are spectacular up close, especially when the sun hits them and they shimmer in the light.
Looking down the nave of the basilica with the two side aisles separated from it by a series of  marble columns.
A pleasant interlude was spent at the Caves of Baredine, just a few miles from our base. Fairly recently commercialised, they had not yet fallen foul of the trend to give the formations fanciful names that seem obvious only to those on drugs. I don't think I've ever been able to make out any shape that a guide elsewhere has pointed out. A horse's head? Nope. A mysterious figure? Nope.  These caves were about 300 feet deep: getting to the bottom was not a problem but getting back up came as a bit of a shock.
Looking to the 'ceiling' of the largest of the caves we passed through. The main colourant of the columns was iron so the shades were mainly browns and pinks. Actually I'll take back what I just said about not recognising shapes in the formations. Is it my imagination or, if you look very closely with eyes half closed, can you really make out a lot of stalactites hanging down? Isn't nature wonderful?

We've got some 'human fish' for you to see, said the guide. I think we were all a little disappointed to discover that this is the local name given to the cave dwelling salamander, the Olm. It eats, sleeps and breeds entirely underground and in complete darkness. Hence no eyes and no pigmentation in its skin. And this is why they are called 'human fish', being white like Caucasians. If you look carefully, you can make out the pink external gills, larval in origin but retained in the adults.
Not sure that I'd call this an 'underground lake'. Underground pond, yes, but lake? Nevertheless, some very attractive reflections.
A drop of water falling from a stalactite and bouncing off a stalagmite. I wonder how long it had taken to filter down from the earth to reach this point?
We know someone back in Cornwall who might like this number plate.

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