The Biggest Truffle in the World
Istria boasts the record of the biggest truffle ever picked. It was found by the well-known restaurant owner Giancarlo Zigante and his dog Diana in 1999 near Buje, and has been included in the famous Guinness Book of Records.
Zigante's white truffle, named Millennium, would have been worth more than gold had it been sold per kilogram at an auction, but a different fate befell it – it was prepared and consumed on the very location where it was discovered, and the world record helped the small town of Livade acquire the flattering title of the world centre of truffles.
The Smallest Town in the World
Istria has another Guinness world record under its belt – the title of the smallest town in the world. With only 17 residents, two streets and three parallel rows of houses - the smallest town in the world, Hum, has settled on an Istrian hill in the vicinity of Buzet.
Hum is one of the rare cities that has not expanded outside of its medieval fortifications, and has fully retained its original form from the 11th century. According to legend, the town of Hum is so small because it is the last settlement to be built in the valley of the Mirna river, so there were not enough building stones left.
Only about a hundred metres long, and about thirty metres wide, Hum has all markings of a town – city gate, city walls, town centre and a church that keeps the 900-year-old Glagolitic inscriptions. It still elects the town prefect like in old times and opens a portal into ancient era to anyone visiting. Although it only takes about 10 minutes to take a tour of the entire town, it is difficult not to linger for a while and enjoy in the beauty and secrets.
The Pazin Cave in the Work of Jules Vern
The famous French writer of adventure and science fiction novels Jules Vern used the karst phenomenon of the Pazin cave where the Pazinčica river ends its aboveground flow continuing underground southwards, for the main plot line of his novel ‘Mathias Sandorf’.
The novel tells the story of the Hungarian count Mathias Sandorf, who is accused for conspiracy against the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, captivated in the Pazin Castle, and sentenced to death. Sandorf flees the castle by descending the cliffs of the Pazin cave into the abyss, and carried by the turgid Pazinčica river through the Istrian underground, reaches the Lim Channel and Rovinj.
The Istrian Stonehenge
Although at the mention of the word Stonehenge, most people first think of England, Istria also possesses a locality of mystical 'stone circles'. The locality comprises two series of small hills in the vicinities of Poreč, on which the remains of circular formations of stone megaliths are located, reminiscent of its more well known British equivalent.
The oldest archaeological findings reach as far back as four thousand years, representing traces of the yet unnamed Bronze Age rulers of Istria. It is assumed that the Istrian Stonehenge was used for orientation in time and space, the monitoring of cosmic changes and the calendar monitoring of the beginning and end of seasons.
UNESCO World Heritage Site
A small country of great coultural wealth. This is an apt description of Croatia since it boasts as many as seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
One of them, the Euphrasian Basilica, is located in the Istrian town of Poreč, and counts among the oldest monuments of early Byzantine art in the Mediterranean. Of magnificent dimensions, the three nave cathedral was built on the foundations of an early Christian church from the 4th and 5th century A.D. Its construction was commissioned in the 6th century by the Poreč bishop Euphrasius, after whom the basilica was named.
Although the structure was damaged by earthquakes, wars and fires, the authentic floor mosaics from the 5th century remain preserved and are a representative specimen of early Christian painting, whereas the iridescent mosaics on the inside walls and facade of the church are considered one of the most beautiful preserved works of Byzantine art. Owing to its architectural complexity and gradual construction through various historical periods, the basilica remains an inexhaustible source of historical understanding and a challenge to researchers and art historians from different parts of the world.