<---- See the map of Istria
The culture of Istria, the largest peninsula on the Adriatic coast, reflects the
historical heritage of many small towns and a mixture of various cultural
traditions. It shows a strong interaction of land and sea cultures, which is
evidenced by the appearance of towns, by folk customs, and even by
On the northwestern coast of Istria, where the forest comes closest to the sea,
is Savurdija, an old fishing village. According to legend, the Venetian fleet
defeated the united fleet of Friedrich Barbarossa and Pope Alexander III off the
coast of Savudrija in the 12th century. A well-preserved and still operational
19th century lighthouse, at one time the tallest in the Adriatic, is located in the
area. By the end of the 19th century, the tourist trade began to develop in
Savudrija. The first resorts were built at that time, attracting European tourists
with an exceptionally peaceful and gentle coastal landscape.
Down the coast to the south is the ancient town of Umag. A nearby area of
hotels and apartment complexes is already several times bigger than the old
town. For a decade now, Umag has been home to the Croatia Open ATP tennis
A pleasant ride south on the coastal road is the town of Novigrad. It is located
on the northern side of the Mirna river bay. The town originated in classical
antiquity, and some of its lively history is suggested by the range of
architectural styles characterizing its churches and other buildings. Novigrad has
a long tourist tradition, which began at the end of the 19th century. Along with
swimming in the traditionally clean sea, there are many interesting things to do:
hunting in the Mirna river valley, canoeing on the river, or going to a jazz
concert during an annual festival.
Further down the coast is Porec, probably the Istrian town richest with
historical monuments. The old plan of Roman streets is still preserved in the
town centre. The Episcopal Complex of the Euphrasius Basilica from the 6th
century, with beautiful mosaics from the period of emperor Justinian, is on the
UNESCO World Heritage List. Porec also boasts several well-preserved
Romanesque and Gothic residential buildings. The town is surrounded by
beaches, and there are beaches also on the island of Sveti Nikola (St. Nicholas),
located opposite the town centre. In and around Porec, pine forests extend
almost to the very beaches. Tourism has a very long tradition in Porec, and the
town already had a tourist guidebook in 1845.
Not far from Porec is Rovinj, a town sitting on a well-indented stretch of
coast, lined by numerous small islands. Because of the beauty of the town and
its surroundings, sanatoriums and health resorts sprung up in the 19th century,
before the era of modern tourism. Built on a small island, the town was
mentioned already in the 7th century. Later, the island was connected to the
mainland. It was once fortified with double walls that were later removed or
incorporated into buildings. The cathedral of Sv. Eufemija (St. Euphemia)
dominates the town with the sixty-meter bell tower on top of which is a statue
of the town patroness.
The more populous towns in the interior of Istria are Buzet, Pazin, Motovun,
Located at the foot of Mount Cicarija, Buzet has existed since Roman times.
The whole area around the town is very picturesque, offering an abundance of
good food and excellent wines.
Pazin is the biggest town in central Istria. The old part of town lies above a
chasm more than a hundred meters deep, into which the river Pazincica falls.
In the season of heavy rains, water in the canyon part of the chasm forms a lake
up to three kilometres long. Jules Verne first mentioned this phenomenon, in
the novel Mathias Sandors from 1885. The story of the novel is set in Pazin, and
involves a famous cave connected with the Limski Channel by a secret
underground passage. Of course, that is only true in the novel.
Motovun is one of the most picturesque Istrian towns, sitting atop a hill in the
idyllic Mirna River valley. Not far from the town is Motovun Forest, where one
can go looking for truffles, a local gastronomic delicacy.
The town of Buje dates back to Roman times; today it is the centre of an
agricultural region in viniculture. The wine roads of Bujstina, which connect
local wine cellars and restaurants that offer good traditional fare, are
well-known among people who appreciate good food and wine.
Seven kilometres to the north is Momjan, a small town on Sveti Mauro hill,
from which a beautiful view opens on almost all of Istria-one can see as far as
the sea near Umag and the peaks of Ucka Mountain.