St. Proculus Church and Museum
The church of St. Proculus lies at the entrance of the village of Naturns. The building, which seems to be grown out of the landscape has for centuries been regarded as a classical example of South Tyrolean architecture. In reality, it was constructed in the first half of the 7th century as a Germanic wooden church, and its interior shows the oldest fresco in the entire German speaking language area. These pre-Carolingian fresco dating from the 7th/8th century were discovered only in 1923. In the 12th century a Romanesque tower was added to the building and at the end of the 14th century the church was heightened and the interior decorated with Gothic fresco as well as the southern outside wall painted.
It is no coincidence, then, that the decorative meander border, which is typical for Roman classical art are wound around what is probably the most famous of all frescoes: The depiction of a saint who sits on a rope as though sitting on a swing. This depiction is commonly referred to as the “Schaukler” (swinger) and is located on the Southern wall. It probably shows St. Proculus of Verona, the bishop who in the 14th century was expelled by the heathen governor. This interpretation is supported by the unique depiction of a herd of cattle on the west wall (St. Proculus was believed to be the protector of livestock).
The warm colours of these fresco contrast the rather cool colours of the Nordic style fresco on the east wall, which were probably created by a different artist and show figures and ornaments, for instance a pair of angels and a typically Nordic braid ornament.
The St. Proculus museum is located almost directly opposite the church and has an exhibit on the history of the little church. It was opened to the public in 2006 and brings to life the past, concentrating on four periods: Late antiquity, the early medieval period, the Gothic period and the period of the plague. Apart from many exhibits – such as the reconstructed parts of a plague cemetery, or fresco taken from the wall of St. Proculus – video projections enable the visitor to glimpse the past
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