Most visitors to Croatia go to Istria, our largest and westernmost peninsula, for its coast, for Roman amphitheatre in Pula, for Brijuni Islands, for beautiful Rovinj, or for Unesco-protected Basilica in Porec, but not everybody thinks that they should venture into hinterland, oblivious to all the beauty it hides.

Last December my husband and I went to Istria for a weekend, and once again we decided to stay at the coast overnight, but to focus our interest on the interior of the peninsula, on the sights and paths that we had missed on our previous trips. This time the route was to take us from Opatija to Rovinj via Svetvinčenat and Dvigrad. 

Map of Istria with a drawn route we took that day


We are always happy to revist Istria for its colours, architecture, cuisine and its proximity and semblance with Italy, but this is the first time we got a chance to see it in winter time; its land dry, trees fruitless, branches swept by winds, but the warm sunshine that day painted the remaining leaves nice golden shade and we were happy leaving the smog of the capital behind. 

Our first unplanned stop is by the road where I spotted a traditional shepherd’s hut, made of stone (drywall). Kazuni have been in use for centuries, once as shelters (for shepherds), later for storing agricultural tools, and reportedly the same type of structures were used as dwellings in prehistory. 

KAZUN – typical shepherd’s shelter in Istria

On the other side of the road stands a small country church built in the same style as many Istrian sacral buildings. Still, it was unusual to see it placed along the road with no villages or houses nearby.

A little church I know nothing about near Svetvinčenat, Istria

Half an hour later we are already in Svetvinčenat, a fascinating little town featuring a regular, square piazza closed in by the Parish Church, city loggia, several Renaissance houses and the monumental Castle Morosini-Grimani. This Medieval jewel was built as a square fortification with round towers and simple façade. In the 15th ct it was owned by the Morosini family who enlarged it while adding it some Renaissance features. On the other side of the square the quaint Parish church of St Mary’s Assumption is decorated with a distinctive Renaissance trefoil façade. 

A shooting star ornament on the church was signalling that Christmas was just two weeks apart, but the place was magically quiet, with no people (and much less tourists) in sight, and we felt as the only breathing people there.  

Svetvinčenat, Istria


Svetvinčenat, detail


Castle Grimano in Svetvinčenat

The sunlight was harsh and glaring, contrasts too strong, and I knew that photos would be nothing to brag about, but I was excited to be finally exploring what seems to be one of the most scenic places in Istria.

the same Castle with vintage treatment

©Paula Borkovic


I love winter, its quietness, crisp air and low-lying sun, but the day is  getting too short and we have to move quickly to make time for other stops on our way. 


Further reading and images:

1st stop on the map – Opatija 

3rd stop on the map – Dvigrad, featured as patulous here.

4th stop on the map – Rovinj

This article was prompted by the weekly photo challenge themed HERITAGE, but it was really written for Jo’s Monday Walk.

I have taken Jo to Istria before.

90 Comments on “ISTRIAN HERITAGE

  1. Ah ha! So that’s where patulous was! I loved that image, as so many of your others, Paula. 🙂 🙂 I know that, being a perfectionist, you will never willingly give less than your best and I love that you have gone to so much trouble to walk with me. Some day I’ll make it back to Croatia. Sending hugs, darlin.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw, thank you, Jo. While I was cropping that image last night, I told myself: maybe Jo will like this one 😀


    • I’m glad to hear you say that, Draco 🙂 It is beautiful and dear to me. A kind of rural beauty with so many cultural traces.


  2. That looks like a wonderful trip to take, Paula (I have made a note!)
    I love the first image – wonderful light and peace. And the vintage shot is great too – and perfectly accompanied by the ethnic music

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for taking me on your travel. I want to go back to Croatia and see more than I did last time. Istria looks lovely. I love the shepherds hut.and the music to listen to as I read and write 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Congrats for your stunning shots…
    Lovely views and very interesting historical notes , here…

    This reminds me of my visit to Istria , (years ago )…., that , unluckily , was in August….
    I remember plenty of people and boiling temperature…..

    Absolutely love this place , you made me think about another visit……in winter !

    Liked by 1 person

    • Istria gets a lot of visitors from Italy, mostly for truffles 😀 I remember you were in Abbazia (Opatija on my map). I don’t take the heat well, never did, that’s why my favourite summer destination is the Dolomites. 😀


  5. Your country is so beautiful – and your words and pictures transmits it all…I just want to go! I have been thinking about it for a long time, but someday i will.

    Liked by 1 person

    • 🙂 That’s a compliment for me and my post. Thank you, Marilyn. Really pleased you like it.


  6. I’ve never been to Croatia but I’d love to. If I ever get there I’d like to go inland, how difficult would that be without any language Paula?

    Liked by 1 person

    • You wouldn’t have any problems Gilly. People are eager to help and many speak at least some English.


  7. How beautiful! I really enjoyed seeing the lovely photos of the architecture. Very fascinating and beautiful rustic details.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Jo’s Monday walk : Sitio das Fontes | restlessjo

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