The building known as the Istrian Parliament Building (or Istrian Council House) was formerly the Church of St. Francis, built in the 13th century. It is located in the northwestern part of the Poreč peninsula, between Park Juraj Dobrila and Laginja’s shore.
Church of St. Francis was built as a hall church with stylistic characteristics of early Gothic. Next to it there was the monastery with the gardens, later razed to the ground.
During the city renovation in the 18th century Franciscan complex underwent major changes. The bell tower of the apse, demolished in 1686 and rebuilt in the period from 1708 to 1731 in the baroque style, is somewhat “modified” today. It was built with a polygonal roof, but the roof was destroyed by the Nazis in the World War II. On the resulting “plateau” they settled the machine gun nest, and it has not returned to its original condition to this day.
In 1751 Bologna artist Giuseppe Montevinti decorates the ceiling of the church with Rococo stuccos with gentle shapes, while Venetian painter Angelo Venturini paints the ceiling with frescos (“Immaculate Conception”, “Stigma of St. Francis” and “Vision of St. Anthony of Padua”).
The building lost its religious character before the arrival of Napoleon in 1806 when, before his abolition of monasticism, Franciscans make a retreat. In the short Napoleon era the building even had a paddock. After the Frenchmen left there was also a school.
In the mid-19th century the Polesini family buys the building from the Austrians for 600 forints. Polesini adds a new wing to the building, and they make the older wing horizontally reconstructed. Thus obtained upper floor becomes the Istrian Council House (Istria has had its own government 1861-1897, and Poreč was the political center of the whole area). The lower floow was made into, to the former concepts, a very modern wine cellar in 1882. It was in use until the 21st century.
In the interwar period, from 1926 to 1942, Poreč City Museum of Art and History (Civico Museo d’Arte e Storia) was located in the building.
Turbulent past of the building was once again proven before the end of World War II, as most of the building was destroyed during the bombing of the Allies. The aim were German ships, full of bauxite, located in the port of Poreč. In addition to the building, much of the museum exhibits, especially valuable books, were damaged.
Italian primary school is located in the newer wing today. Works on the older wing once again confirmed that digging in Istria always ends in discoveries – a mosaic from the 5th century was found in the courtyard behind the Council House, probably from the church of St. Thomas the Apostle.
Franciscan church is thanks to the modern restoration and adaptation revalued as a historic monument. It now hosts numerous cultural events and festive meetings of the Parliament of Istria County. Choir concerts “Naš kanat je lip” and painting exhibitions “Annale” are held here.