St Helena Church In Gradisce

Gradišče near Divača in a small village with only 15 residents. On the upper part of the village, there is a small St. Helen (in Slovenian: Sveta Helena) church which according to a legend once belonged to a castle (of which no traces can be seen anymore). It was probably built in romanesque period, enlarged in gothic style and rebuilt in the 17th centrury. Medieval frescoes were discovered in mid 60-ties. They were attributed to master painter named "John of Kastav" (Kastav is a town near Rijeka, Croatia; Croatian name is 'Ivan iz Kastva', Slovenian 'Janez iz Kastva'; his most reputed works are painitngs in Hrastovlje church and in Beram in Southern Istria (Croatia)).

Church can be visited with a guide (go down in the village and turn left after house nr. 3 to find house nr. 1) who only speaks Slovenian but will be glad to open the church for you. The romanesque part of the church was all painted with frecoes depicting the Admiration of Kings on the Northern wall, together with some hunting scenes and scenes from daily life. Among others, a rare bird is depicted which is believed to be the Northern Bald Ibis (which used to live in the area about 400 years ago).
(click to enlarge)
StHelen-North1 StHelen-Mary

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