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taxi service on the route, Porec, Umag, Vrsar, Novigrad, Rovinj ...
PHONE NUMBER 00385 91 516 52 36 - IVA
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Istria (or Istra, how is called on Croatian) is the largest peninsula
on the Adriatic Sea. The peninsula is located at the head of the Adriatic
between the Gulf of Trieste and the Bay of Kvarner.Istria is the most developed Croatian region, in the terms of tourism due to
its vicinity to the Western Europe. The peninsula is large and triangular,
pointing into the Adriatic. Although the coast is less developed like in
Dalmatia, besides it is an attractive region for holidays and vacation, because
provides great features on the coast and has an interesting inland, which gives
an insight into the Croatian long culture and history. As a border region with
Italy and Slovenia, it has a rich cultural life, marked by the old cultures that
have lived on this areas during many centuries. The large Italian community is
still enliven, many Croats have good knowledge of Italian language and numerous
Istrian cities, streets, schools, places and buildings are bilingual.The
region is famous of its varied home and abroad cuisine. There are served seafood
dishes, and also the heavier inland, international and Italian cuisine. Main
towns which need to be visited on peninsula are Pula, Rovinj, Novigrad, Poreč,
Motovun, GroŽnjan, Oprtalj and Hum, which are in details presented in the town
sections.Istria is connected to Zagreb and all other main cities with
bus lines which makes it easy reachable from Rijeka and other places. There is
also train connection from Ljubljana to Pula, and there are ferries connecting
Pula with LoŠinj and Zadar. If you want to travel the other routes, not the ones
indicated here, you are advised to take the car
PREDHISTORIC PEOPLE IN ISTRA
The first traces of prehistoric people on the territory of Istria date back to the period of the Lower Palaeolithic. The stone hand axe made by early man is about 2 million to 800,000 years old and was found in the vicinity of Pula, in Šandalja Cave. Finds from the Upper Palaeolithic (40,000-10,000 BC) were found at the sites of Šandalja II and St. Romuald’s Cave in Lim Bay.In St. Romuald’s Cave (11 km from Vrsar and 9 km from Rovinj) a large number of bones belonging to over 40 animal species were found, such as bones of the cave bear, cave lion, leopard, cave hyena, wild horse, large deer, snow hare etc., which were mainly the game of prehistoric people-hunters of that time. The discovered tools are proof of the existence of early man from the Old Stone Age, whereas the cave itself is a speleological attraction with cave decorations, bats and other animals. It was named after St. Romuald who in prayer and meditation spent three years in this cave, from 1001 until 1004.Numerous other prehistoric finds from the Neolithic (6,000-2,000 BC) prove the changes in life style, when prehistoric people instead of only hunting engaged in raising cattle and planting crops. Techniques for making tools and weapons became more complicated and people discovered how to make pottery.
Prehistoric hill-fort settlements
In the middle of the 2nd millennium BC, on the entire territory of Istria, fortification settlements began to appear on hilltops and prominent points above valleys. More than 400 hill-forts have been recorded in Istria which speaks of the population density in the Bronze and Iron Ages. They were mostly circular, ellipsoidal and surrounded by defensive walls. Larger hill-forts were even encompassed by several rings of walls. A special building technique was used where large stone blocks were laid without a bonding agent (dry wall). Besides the quadrangular ground plan, houses were also circular and most probably had a roof made of stone slates like today’s stone-huts (kažun) which then suggests that the same style of construction has survived from the Bronze Age until today. The best preserved sites of prehistoric hill-forts are near Pula (Nesactium), Rovinj (Monkodonja) and Poreč (Picugi, name of a hill-fort on three hills). Nesactium is known as the last tribal capital of the Histri, who were probably the first settlers of Istria. The Histri lived in tribal communities and besides trade engaged in hunting, fishing, farming and cattle raising (especially grazing of sheep and goat). In their scripts Roman writers often mentioned the Histri who were known for their plundering. At the end of the 3rd century BC they came into conflict with the Romans who attacked them several times. A well-known description is that of the Roman siege and conquest of Nesactium in 177 BC when the Histrian king Epulon, to avoid falling into the hands of the Romans, thrust a sword into his chest at the moment when Roman soldiers entered the settlement. This event was recorded by Titus Livius, Roman historian from the Augustan Age. Below the north gate of Nesactium, the so-called Porta Praehistorica, was a channel for rain-water with a stone drain cover.
Today most of the hill-fort settlements are recognized as circular towns which later developed on their foundations. Among the archaeological remains in Nesactium (4 km from Pula), besides the prehistoric remains of the hill-fort, there are also those of Roman buildings (temples, thermal baths) and even foundations of early Christian basilc
Romans in Istria
The Romans introduced a new type of organization in Istria, just as throughout entire Europe they were the first to start the urbanization, building roads and connecting towns, thus greatly encouraged the development of trade. Istria is famous as a region rich in high quality stone, a fact well known to the Romans, so today there are numerous places along the west coast of Istria that were once Roman quarries from which stone was taken to erect their magnificent buildings. The Amphitheatre of Pula was also built from local lime stone. The Romans brought the exploitation of stone nearly to perfection through the new way of building, stone dressing, decoration, etc. Large parts of the best land were turned into state properties (ager publicus) which were then peopled by Roman colony and retired soldiers-veterans. Many estates belonged to emperors, members of their families and friends. They erected villae rusticae which served as homes or summer residences and for manufacturing various products. Numerous sites, nearly 300 classical sites have been registered in Istria; speak of the kiln workshops and those for the production of earthenware, for making and dyeing cloth, brickyards and workshops for amphorae of which the one in Červar near Poreč supplied amphorae for emperors.
The period of Roman rule which lasted over five centuries ended with barbarian invasions and migrations of Germanic Goths who finally in 476 managed to upset the already weakened West Roman Empire. However, after some thirty years Justinian, emperor of the East Roman Empire, restored the Empire so the period of Byzantine rule in Istria lasted until 751. While conquering territories on his way from Constantinople to Ravenna in northern Italy, which became the new western capital in 535, he erected a number of magnificent buildings, the most splendid among them being in Poreč on the Istrian peninsula. The period of Byzantine rule brought Pula and its surroundings a rich cultural and artistic life. Maximian, Bishop of Ravenna (native of Veštar, south of Rovinj) commissioned the building of a grandiose three nave basilica of which today only one of the two memorial chapels in the form of a Greek cross remains. Owing to the lovely ornaments in marble, mosaics and stuccoes the basilica was named St. Maria Formosa. Just like the basilica, both chapels were decorated with floor and wall mosaics. According to the legend, Maximian found buried treasure while plowing which he then gave to Emperor Justinian who in return awarded Maximian naming him a bishop.
In the first centuries of the early Middle Ages various barbarian tribes invaded Istria. The invasion of the Avars and Lombards lasted for a brief period and they did not remain in Istria, but the Slavs spread throughout the peninsula and settled in many parts of its interior. In 788 Istria became part of the Franconian state that introduced the feudal system, encouraged the settling of the Slavs, often on land owned by towns. Thus, towns began to lose their autonomy (based upon classical legal norms) and their power declined, whereas at the same time the power of the Church increased, since the rule of Charlemagne depended on it. As a result of the decrease of power of the Franconian state and its division into smaller territories, Istria first became part of the Italic Empire, in 952 part of the duchy of Bavaria, in 976 it became part of the duchy of Carinthia, and finally in the 11th century it became an independent region under the jurisdiction of the church, i.e. Patriarch of Aquileia (northern Italy) and partly under German feudal families. Various interests (Church, German nobles,Venetian Republic) constantly led to new clashes, plunder and destruction throughout the entire Istrian peninsula. The unprotected peasants were those to suffer the greatest damage. Towns in the interior of Istria were most often situated on the very hill tops, a position offering a natural protection. Due to frequent attacks of neighbouring feudal lords or Venice, the towns added a fortification system consisting of town walls and numerous towers and fortresses, often with a drawbridge. Although it resembled a fortress from the outside, the medieval town was intertwined with winding streets that followed the circular arrangement of the walls, whereas the nucleus of town life was the church and square.Town loggias began to appear in the late medieval period, with the strengthening of urban culture. This was the meeting place of townspeople, place where decisions were reached by the town authorities. They were used for all forms of public life. If loggias were located outside the walls beside the entrance towers or gate, they offered shelter to passengers when the town gate was closed.Towns, especially the coastal ones with predominantly Latin autochthonous population aspired to autonomy that would enable further development and progress. However, the feudal system opposed such aspirations. During the 11th and 12th centuries, freed partly from the oppression of feudal lords, gradual economic development began, which was in some degree a result of the Crusades. That period is marked by the development of olive and wine growing, fishing, salt production and other trade, particularly maritime trade. The progress and development of coastal towns did not suit Venice, the city-state that aimed at becoming the major maritime and trading force in the Adriatic. To ensure free navigation for their ships along the eastern coast of the Adriatic, and stay and supply in ports, the Venetians made every effort to take control of all major points along that route. Finally in the 15th century they managed to gain control of all Istrian and Dalmatian towns (except Dubrovnik).
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