A Time-Travelling Adventure: Top Cultural and Historical Attractions in Istria
What a time to be alive and still be able to witness the greatness of the Roman Empire! You can’t visit Istria without a proper tour of the Pula Arena, the Temple of Augustus, and the Small Roman Theatre. Being the world’s sixth-largest amphitheatre built by the Romans, Pula’s Arena enchants at first sight. This magnificent monument used to be the place for merciless gladiator fights, but nowadays, it is a stage for many renowned global artists! You can have a regular tour year-round or visit during a festival or a concert to get a real theatre experience. Your Roman experience in Pula is not complete without a mandatory visit to the Small Roman Theatre and the charming Forum with the Temple of Augustus.
UNESCO heritage and Roman temples
The two main Roman streets in the coastal city of Poreč, Cardo and Decumanus, lead to a maze of cobblestone alleys teeming with local taverns, shops, and fantastic architectural treasures, but to one thing in particular: the Euphrasian Basilica. Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, this early Christian church from the 6th century has intact and rare Byzantine art mosaics and inscriptions from the same era. Add another stop to your Poreč exploration: Marafor Square has preserved remains of the Temple of Neptune from the 1st century.
Unleash the warrior within: it is time for chivalry! If you visit Istria on a family holiday, a tour of the Morosini-Grimani Castle in Svetvinčenat with your children is not the one to miss. This medieval castle stuns with its presence and events: medieval festivals, exhibitions, and interactive performances. For a rush of adrenaline, head to the heart of Istria and Pazin Castle. Nestled above the majestic Pazin Abyss, a popular zip-line destination, the castle is one of the oldest preserved medieval fortifications in Istria. At Belaj Castle estate, savour the gourmet food and fine wines like a bon vivant while admiring the undulating landscape of central Istria.
Fresco paintings in Istria
Did you know that the unique medieval method of wall painting in Istria was at its peak from the 11th to the 16th century and has left numerous churches with many fascinating illustrations depicting religious motifs and legends? There are many examples of fresco paintings in Istria, but the most famous one, the Dance Macabre from 1474, is preserved in the little church of St Mary on the Rocks near Beram. The captivating painting carries the message of every human being equal when facing death. To this day, fresco painting in Istria remains an impressive technique and form of distinctive artistic expression. You can learn all about it at the House of Frescoes in the picturesque village of Draguć!
Mystical hilltop towns and charming fishermen’s villages
Nowadays, life is as it should be in Istria – and who could disagree? But if you are in doubt, visit the many hilltop towns and fishermen’s villages on the coast. They will reveal the charm of living in Istria. Embark on the adventure of discovering the winding roads and hit pause when towns suddenly emerge on top of hills: Motovun, Grožnjan, Oprtalj, to name a few. Celebrate your conquering of these gems with a glass of wine with a view from the top. And then trade the mystical for the charming: Fažana, Trget, or Vrsar are coastal towns with traditional taverns and seafood restaurants where you can experience the unique flavours of Istria. Dinner with a sunset? As it should be.
Author: Annamaria Gržetić