The quaint looking field structure known as kazun in Istria has been widely used in the past once as a dwelling, but most commonly as a shelter, and later on for storing agricultural tools. The changed way of life gradually made them obsolete, but their cultural and historical value is greater than it may at first appear. Most of the examples that can be seen today date back to  the 18th – mid 20th century like this one that I saw in the South-West Istria. The doors on kazun are normally smaller than man’s size and usually face West. The inner diameter ranges between 1.5m-3m and the height from 1.60 to 2m. 

Excerpt from a research conducted by the Institute for Historical and Social Sciences in Rijeka sheds light on the historical importance of these structures:

“…The heritage value of kazun is great; when glancing over the map of the widespread density of kazuns, it can be noticed that they are most commonly found in the South-West Istria (especially around Vodnjan), while they are scarcely found in the middle and North-West Istria. Similar round ground-planned edifices are known under different names (bunje etc.) in the middle and South Dalmatia. In Europe, this type of drywall building can be found all over Mediterranean, all the way to the British Isles and Scandinavia up North. This geographical distribution, architectural structuring and archaeological findings suggest that the origin of this type of round ground-planned edifice could be found in the dwellings and burial sites of Paleo-Mediterranean period. However, the abundance of available stone and the strong development of agriculture were basis for survival and spreading of this type of building in different European areas, as well as the formation of original examples of round stone edifices which had the role of shelters in the field. Lately, kažuns, as characteristic examples of traditional building in Istria, have had a special role when one is identifying and interpreting ethno-cultural contents.” (author: Tihana Stepinac Fabijanic)



It’s been a few weeks since the last Black & White Sunday, and I am happy that I can challenge you again with my monochrome photo challenge. Today’s theme is STRUCTURE. In my example it is a building, but considering so many possible meanings of the word, I expect to see many different entries from you. As usually, you have a week to respond. Hope you’ll have fun.


Now please have a look at wonderful structures posted by my friends:


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.


SECTION – segment, part, component, or in terms of photography a crop of a larger view. Have you ever taken a photo of something and then cropped it to add interest, to improve composition or to zoom in on something? I do it often. For this challenge I am showing a cropped view of Rovinj, coastal town in Istria.

©Paula Borkovic

With the approaching Labour Day I am taking a couple of days off and will be linking to your posts on Tuesday. This also means that we are going to skip Black and White Sunday this week. See you all very soon.

To remind you of the rules of this challenge:  

  • Make a photo post post on today’s theme, before next Thursday.

  • Link to this challenge post, and tag your post #thursdaysspecial

  • Leave a comment under this post.


Please check out the entries to this challenge by clicking on the links bellow:


Here is my recap for January 2017.


Reminder: there is a new Thursday’s Special challenge tomorrow with the theme: Pick a word.




Winter is harsh this year, and it seems to go on for ever. That’s why I decided to make wintry today’s challenge theme with apologies to those living in the Southern Hemisphere.

The bellow photo was captured in a secluded Istrian village, at the very beginning of winter, when snow was still non-existent, but the chill could be felt in the air, and the colours, light and scarce vegetation all screamed of winter.


©Paula Borkovic

If you want to join this photo challenge:   

  • Make a photo post on today’s theme before next Thursday

  • Link to this challenge post, and tag your post #thursdaysspecial

  • Leave a comment under this post  

Click on the links bellow to see entries to this challenge:

NOTE: Next challenge (Thursday’s Special) will be on 2 February. There is no Black and White Sunday on 29 January.

Jo’s Monday Walk: Macabre Fresco

 Most visitors to Croatia when coming to Istria go to its coastal area and fail to visit its picturesque countryside in the hinterland. The interior of our largest peninsula holds many gems hidden in small medieval churches. One of them is Sveta Marija na Skriljinah (St Mary’s), situated in the woods one kilometre away from Beram, one of the oldest settlements on Istrian peninsula.

The year was 1474 when Vincent from Kastav (Vinko in Croatian) with the help of two assistants painted murals in this tiny Gothic church. The thing that sets it apart from other sacral art in the surroundings is the famous mural of  “Dance macabre” on its west wall (above the entrance).

At the time of the construction, Istria, as many other parts of Europe, was plagued by “Black Death” which influenced the concept of death that was from then onward known as the “Grim Reaper” and shown as a skeletal figure carrying a large scythe. Indiscriminately, it is taking away all castes of society: the bishop, the king, the queen, the pub owner, the child.

The entire wall art in St. Mary’s is divided into 46 painted sections mostly showing scenes from the Bible. The reconstruction and enlargement of the church that happened in the 18th century when a portico was added were devastating for the frescoes on the main entrance where two windows were installed. As it happens, the scene depicting the original sin was completely ruined, and now you can only see Adam’s and Eve’s legs.

It took me five visits to Istria to finally make it to Beram. The church in the woods is only opened for scheduled visits, and you are supposed to go to the village first, find the priest, get the key, and then go to the woods. That autumn morning when I entered Beram, the main church in the village (the one you can see in the photo with panoramic view of Beram) was closed, the priest was nowhere to be found, but we went to the woods anyway. The outer appearance of this little Gothic church (reconstructed in the 18th century as Neo Romanesque) wasn’t promising and the door was closed so we were about to leave when a bus of tourists with a guide holding a key stopped by, and we conveniently sneaked in.

I left the place with mixed feelings: excitement that I finally got to see the frescoes that are not that frequent in our sacral buildings, and disappointment at the oblivion of Saint Mary’s and little efforts made to save it from the ravages of time.


This is my entry for Jo’s Monday walk. Pay her a visit and find out where she is taking you today.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold



This is my entry for Weekly Photo Challenge Threshold.


Going back in time

Some of you have probably noticed that I picked Monday as my virtual travel day to mitigate the dreadful effects of going back to work. Today I am taking you to Istria – Croatia, to a journey that happened 11 years ago.

This was my first and most memorable encounter with Istria. One of Croatia’s most beautiful regions is a peninsula situated at less than half hour drive from Italy. The architecture, street signs in Italian, cuisine, culture, everything there reminds of Italy which makes Istria my favourite part of the country next to Dubrovnik where I grew up.

The gallery is made of technically lacking photographs, but they have a sentimental value for me, and I thought it would be interesting to show you some bits and pieces of my country.

Listen to Croatian pianist Maksim Mrvica playing Croatian Rhapsody for you.


Related articles:

SUNDAY POST: From a Distance

I have decided to stay in Istria for the rest of the week, even if it means going back 12 years in time 😉

What you are about to see is a little town called Motovun, perched on top of a hill (hardly 277 m altitude), but that odd summer morning it was bathing in clouds. I opened my eyes and realised that if I didn’t shoot it then, there may never be a chance to do it again. So, here it is … the only shot ever that has made me get up at 5 am. (poor cam and all, but the scene impressed me)



Weekly Photo Challenge: URBAN

Does a municipality counting about 800 souls constitute an urban settlement?

I think so, and then I may be wrong. Sorry WP challengers, but you are not likely to see any metropolis shots from me, not any time soon anyway,  and I can’t just hop an airplane to go to my native town to take photos for this challenge. Instead, I am going to show you a typical street in one of our small towns in Istria (Istria being the largest peninsula in Croatia). The place is called Grožnjan or Grisignana in Italian (it was part of Venetian Republic from 1358 to 1797). When I go on short weekend breaks around here, this is the kind of place I visit most. I hope you will understand why… 🙂

Maybe some day I will be able to move to some of these stone-cobbled streets and find a new home there 😉