History and Culture

The sounds of the past still echo in every corner of Istria. On every step, they still quiver in the air and lead us back into times of the combats of gladiators, Roman conquests, Venetian trade, the glory of Austrio-Hungarian emperors...

Byzantine mosaics, Baroque palaces, Gothic cathedrals, Roman triumphal arches, Renaissance murals, medieval cities on hills, Austro-Hungarian fortifications and numerous other monuments in every Istrian town and village proudly bear witness to itsthe turbulent history of the peninsula. Due to Istria’s unique strategic position, it attracted various conquerors throughout the centuries: Romans, Goths, Slavs, Avars, Franks, Venetians, Habsburgs...

One could say that the entire European history 'has taken a stroll' through the Istrian peninsula and left behind it inerasable traces of three European civilizations - the Roman, Germanic and Slavic.

From almost all eras of the culture of mankind there are preserved remains on the Istrian peninsula. To mention only a few: the Roman amphitheatre in Pula, built during the age of the Emperor Vespasian in the first century A.D., the Euphrasian Basilica in Poreč - a UNESCO world heritage site, the Church of St. Euphemia in Rovinj, the ancient Illyrian city Nesactium from the pre-Roman era, the Gate of Hercules from the 1st century B.C., the medieval town of Motovun… To get a broader sense of Istrian culture, one should also visit the archaeological or historical museum in Pula, the ethnographic museum in Pazin or the regional museums of, for instance, Umag, Poreč, Rovinj, Labin, Buzet and Pazin.

Local Customs

It is possibly because of the Učka mountain range or perhaps because of the sea, but the culture of Istria is hidden and very well guarded - today it can be best described as a treasure chest. Ancient generations, from the Romans to the Venetians and the Slavs - have all placed their treasure in this chest.

This combination of various civilizations, cultures and customs has woven a genuine enchantment into Istria, a distinctive and characteristically Istrian magic, whether it be the language, the dialects, food, music or customs. A great part of this charm are the sights that can still be seen throughout Istria: an elderly woman knitting old-fashioned doilies in front of her house, the melodious dialect in which she talks to her friend, the elderly man playing the Istrian long flute, and who knows, maybe they'll do a traditional dance...

Due to such sights, wandering into an Istrian village is an extraordinary and heartfelt experience. To get a better insight into the heritage of Istrian local customs, one should visit a wide range of events that are organised each year, dedicated to folklore, music and dance in national costumes...

One should also not miss the visual-arts exhibition organised each summer in the Rovinj Grisia Street or the convention of chakavian poetry in Žminj; and to always be able to invoke the tastes and scents of seductive Istria, we simply suggest to occasionally take a peek in the compendium of knowledge on Istria - the Istrian encyclopaedia.