The Moise palace Cres

The monumental building in the middle of the historical centre was built during the first years of the 16th century, occupying the best position in town, where the main artery of the town centre is intersected by one of the busiest minor streets. The building dominates the south part of the historical centre, standing out among the modest two- and three-storey houses facing the intimate common courtyards and narrow, winding streets.
The Moise palace is by far the biggest building in the historical centre: its ground-plan area is divided into no less than seven cadastral units. An aerial view of its roof best illustrates the sheer size of the building in comparison with the rest of the city. Its total surface of 1800 m2 makes it the biggest Renaissance palace in Croatian islands.
The history of this luxurious four-storey building was marked by two patrician families: the Petris and the Moise, united by marriage. The Petris were the most prominent local patrician families, while the Moise relocated to Cres from Senj.
The building has eight coats of arms belonging to the Petris and two belonging to the Moise, a fact which reveals that this palace was the home of the most powerful, original branch of the Petris family. Therefore, the more recent scientific papers refer to the building as the “Petris-Moise palace”. Frane Petrić, a renowned Renaissance scholar, spent his childhood years here, before being taken along by his uncle Gian Giorgio Petris (Cro. Ivan Juraj Petris) to his ship to fight the Turks at the age of 9.
The best preserved Moise coat of arms is the one chiselled above a side entrance on the first floor: a slightly damaged coat of arms in the form of a horse’s head (It. scudo a testa di cavallo) surrounded by a wreath. The shield part depicts a rearing lion standing above the flames coming from the bottom part of the shield, and holding a six-pointed star (the Star of David) in his right paw.
In the second half of the 20th century the building was home to a number of families who partitioned its rooms into smaller rooms and flats. Due to their living conditions – and inspired by the daily press topics from the late 1960s and early 1970s – the locals nicknamed the building the Biafra. The name became so firmly entrenched in the collective memory that the locals still use it, even though most of them no longer remember the republic from which the name originated. The building gradually became structurally unsafe, so all the inhabitants were relocated to other living spaces and the building was vacated. A complete reconstruction funded mainly by EU funds took place from 2015 to 2019. The City of Cres gave the building over to the University of Rijeka for a period of thirty years. At present, the Moise palace is a humanities research and congress centre operated by the University of Rijeka.

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