Beram – Dance of the Dead

A little west of the central Istrian town of Pazin, just outside the tiny village of Beram, the Church of St Mary of the Rocks contains an outstanding cycle of 15th century frescoes, which few visitors to Croatia ever see, or even hear of. The work of a certain Vincent of Kastav, the frescoes date from 1474, and include an extraordinary ‘Dance of the Dead’, pictured here. They were only discovered beneath a layer of plaster in 1913, and as a consequence are remarkably well preserved.

Churches such as this, and others in the central part of Istria with interesting frescoes – there are several – are usually locked, meaning that in order to visit them one needs to contact a local keyholder (contact details can be found through the Central Istrian Tourist Office in Pazin). This is Josip Zanelli, keyholder of the church of Sv Roc with its cycle of 16th century frescoes, in Draguc:

I’m looking forward to revisiting these and other places in central Istria when I return there in a few weeks, to finish work on a new Istria guidebook for Bradt.
Photos © Rudolf Abraham. No unauthorized use.



  1. I did go here! I don’t remember how we found out about it, but we were looking at churches and architecture generally. So good to see it again. Have a great trip and I look forward to the guide book.

  2. Extraordinary colours! They remind me somewhat of the frescoes on the painted monasteries of northern Bukovina in Romania.

    • Thank you Laurence – I’ve boosted the contrast slightly for web viewing at this size, but the colours are still remarkably rich. I’m hoping to go to Bukovina on my next trip to Romania, later this year.

  3. Great black and white. I love how you caught this man enroute to doing something, as most working people are.

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