PARENZO, a seaport of Austria, in Istria, 95 m. S. by W. of Trieste by rail. Pop. (1900), 9962, mostly Italian. It is situated on the west coast of Istria, and is built on a peninsula nowhere more than 5 ft. above the sea-level; and from the fact that the pavements of the Roman period are 3 ft. below the present surface it is inferred that this part of the coast is slowly subsiding. Parenzo has considerable historic and architectural interest, and its well-preserved cathedral of St Maurus, erected probably between 535 and 543, is one of the most interesting buildings in the whole of Austria. The basilican type is very pure; there are three naves; the apse is hexagonal without and round within. The total length of the church proper is only 120 ft.; but in front of the west entrance is a square atrium with three arches on each side; to the west of the atrium is a now roofless baptistery, and to the west of that rises the campanile; so that the total length from campanile to apse is about 230 ft. Mosaics, now greatly spoiled, form the chief decoration of both outside and inside. The high altar is covered with a noble baldachin, dating from 1277. The basilica is one of those churches in which the priest when celebrating mass stands behind the altar with his face to the west. An older church is referred to in the inscription of Euphrasius in the mosaic of the apse of the cathedral, and remains of its mosaic pavement and of its apse have been found under the floor of the present church; it belongs perhaps to the 5th century A.D.; while at a still lower level another pavement, perhaps of the 4th century A.D., has been discovered, belonging to the first church, which lay to the north of the present. Several inscriptions mention the name of donors of parts of it. The mosaic pavement of the present church was almost entirely destroyed in 1880, when the floorlevel was raised. Small portions of two temples and an inscribed stone are the only remains of the ancient Roman city that readily catch the eye. Parenzo is the seat of the Provincial Diet of Istria, and is also an episcopal see.
Parenzo (Lat. PareAs<u<Atj), conquered by the Romans in 178 B.C., was made a colony probably by Augustus after the battle of Actium, for its title in inscriptions is Colonia Julia and not, as it has often been given, Colonia Ulpia. It grew to be a place of some note with about 6000 inhabitants within its walls and 10,000 in its suburbs. The bishopric, founded in 524, gradually acquired ecclesiastical authority over a large number of abbeys and other foundations in the surrounding country. The city, which had long been under the influence of Venice, formally recognized Venetian supremacy in 1267, and as a Venetian town it was in 1354 attacked and plundered by Paganino Doria of Genoa. The bishoprics of Pola and Parenzo were united in 1827.
See John Mason Neale, Notes on Dalmatia, Istria, etc. (London, 1861), with ground plan of cathedral; E. A. Freeman, Sketches from the Subject and Neighbour Lands of Venice (London, 1881); and Neumann, Der Dam von Parenzo (Vienna, 1902).
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)