St. George's Cathedral
Above the compact town centre reigns St. George's Cathedral, which gives the city its special character. It was probably built in the 12th century, but no exact data in this regard exists.
In the 14th century, it was built to its present size. In the year 1344, on the Day of St. George, the cathedral was consecrated by nine bishops from near and far. It acquired its present appearance after Baroque renovation in the year 1637. The Bell Tower was completed in 1608, and the Baptistery in the year 1650. During these years, reinforcements were made to the hill on which the cathedral rests.
The supporting walls were built in the year 1641, and on the sea side, the hill was fortified with stone arches. The construction of the stone arches began in the year 1663 and lasted until 1804. They were seriously dilapidated due to the effects of erosion, and thus had to be reconstructed and restored in 1998.
In the year 1737, St George's Cathedral acquired seven marble altars. Of the preserved works of art, the two sculptures of St. George are particularly worth seeing. The larger one is from the 17th century and is the work of an unknown sculptor. The smaller one is silver-plated and was made by a Piran-based goldsmith's workshop. The wall paintings are the work of the Venetian school. The two big paintings (Mass in Bolsena and St. George's Miracle) date from the beginning of the 17th century and were painted by Angelo de Coster.
St. George is the patron saint of Piran. As a Christian prince and knight from Capadoccia, and a saint and martyr, he became a protector of many towns. Rarely is any saintly knight mentioned so frequently in legends and myths as he. Even the Dardanelles were once named the Straits of St. George. In England alone, one hundred and sixty churches are dedicated to this martyr.
He is depicted as a mighty young man in his knightly outfit, on a white horse bearing his spear and a shield. The portrait of St. George on his horse, fighting a dragon, is one of the best known and frequently used motifs in Christianity.
The Christian legend about St. George is based on the pagan tradition about the coming of the spring season. Therefore, the Day of St. George (24th April) denotes and symbolises the return of the spring, resurrection and forthcomingness. The most famous legend dealing with St. George was written in the medieval book "Legenda aurea" by Jacobo da Vortagine.
Among the important pieces of the cathedral's property is the church organ, made by Petar Nakić, a Franciscan monk from Dalmatia. After his theology studies in Venice, he was trained in organ making and in the year 1729 completely dedicated himself to this craft. His organ in Piran was installed in the year 1746 and had 16 ranks. Unfortunately, it was damaged and had to go through a series of restorations.
During World War I, it was severely damaged. All the larger pipes were removed to be melted into weapons. Almost 100 years before that, its keyboard in the manual was changed by A.V. Rossi from Trieste. In the year 1936, it was reconstructed by G. Bencz, but he did not restore the original disposition. In the year 1956, several adjustments were made by V. Rebolj, and so the set up of the organ today considerably varies from the original. The organ was cleaned in August 1995. And yet, through all these times, the organ continues to drone while giving great pleasure to many a music enthusiast.
The Bell Tower (46.45 m), completed in the year 1608, is a smaller scale copy of San Marco Campanile in Venice, thus confirming that it was built during a period of Venetian influence in Piran.
Among other newer bells, there is also a bell from the 15th century.
During the summer months, you may climb the tower and admire the view of the entire Slovenian and Croatian Istria's nearby area, as well as the Italian coast, from Trieste to Duino, and from Tarvisio to Grado; on days of high northern winds, you can even see the Julian Alps and Dolomites.
The octagonal Baptistery was built in the year 1650 and is the last building of the new cathedral complex. In the church, one can find 17th-century furniture and a number of paintings from different periods.
A great attraction is the large medieval Gothic crucifix, dating from that period around the year 1370. In the centre of the Baptistery, there is a Roman sarcophagus from the first half of the 2nd century A.D., at a later stage converted into a baptismal font.
Parish Museum of St George
The ground floor of the sacristy hosts an exhibition of various religious objects and dishes belonging to the church. Under the nave, the remains of buildings from Ancient Rome and the Early Middle Ages, and Romanesque and Gothic art were found. Among the exhibits, there is also a wooden
model probably representing St George's church in its Gothic era and before the thorough renovation that gave the building its Baroque appearance.