Vodnjan, Croatia

Vodnjan is a sleepy Istrian village that contains one of the region's most macabre sights. There's not much to see in the tiny town. Unmarked by tourism, it retains an authentic Istrian flavor with nice architectural details. Most people go for the unique Baroque 18th-century Church of St. Blaise. Pleasant enough on the outside, it's the interior that draws visitors.

Vodnjan, Travel Guide

Behind the main altar of the Church of St. Blaise and in a separate room lie the desiccated remains of six saints that were, in effect, mummified. The clothed bodies of St. Leon Bembo, St. Ivan John Olini, and St. Nicoloza Bursa, as well as assorted parts of three other saints, lie enclosed in glass. For unknown reasons, the bodies and body parts failed to decompose. The skin and nails darkened and dried, making the corpses look curiously wooden. In addition to the “mummies”, the church reliquary contains 380 relics enclosed in glass, including the undecayed tongue of St. Mary of Egypt.

While you absorb the creepy ambiance, a CD explains who the saints were, how they lived and how they died. Odd.

Among the less grisly exhibits, notice the 14th-century polyptych painted by Paolo Veneziano that depicts scenes from the life and death of St. Bembo.

Vodnjan Travel Guide Croatia Top Attractions

“Vodnjan Travel Guide”

In the past, Vodnjan-Dignano was an important urban center and so today this town is an interesting destination especially for those who love art and culture.Walking around the old part of town you’ll be surprised by the multitude of buildings from different periods: Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque. To emphasize the family palace Bettica, the popular Castle, built in 1300, now houses the museum. Very interesting is the parish church of St. Biagio whose bell is by far the highest in Istria (62 meters). In the church are preserved mummified bodies of saints and a collection of relics.

See also: Pula Travel Guide, Croatia


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