Set along 80 kilometers of indented coastline, in coves and bays are 6 picturesque towns of the Medulin Riviera. Just like on our planet, the sea accounts for more than three quarters of the Riviera. The azure sea can be seen from any point of this narrow coastal strip, but the true magic begins once you immerse into it, whether only for a swim on the surface or to dive into its depths. The abundance of flora and fauna is yet an additional reason to choose this area for a delightful holiday. Preserved, untouched nature on the one hand and comfortable, modern hotels, camps and apartments with a variety of activities on the other hand, provide ideal conditions for a perfect holiday.
ANCIENT VILLA AND THEME TRAIL VIŽULA
Vižula peninsula, near Medulin is an exceptionally valuable archaeological site that was settled from the Neolithic until the early Middle Ages. The peninsula has a historical theme trail showing segments of the rich and eventful past of the site and everyday life of the area. A walk along the trail tells you the story about ancient Romans who used to go fishing while listening to the sounds of harps; you will peek into the world of ancient games for children and adults, as well as discover facts related to the Neolithic Period and the settlement that existed at the very site in 6600 BC. Remains of several villae rusticae that can be seen today in Medulin bay indicate that even ancient Romans were delighted with the beauty of the Medulin Riviera. In terms of archaeology the most significant are the remains of the imperial maritime residential complex at Vižula. This extraordinary structure stood out from other similar villas by its splendor, luxury and magnificence. For this reason it is quite certainly thought to have been an imperial villa. This site is connected with the legend of the tragic death of Crispo, first-born son of Roman emperor Constantine the Great.
The windmills in Medulin were constructed in 1878. Although many people refer to them as towers, they are in fact untypical and unique windmills, which in the old days were a real attraction and were mentioned in the first tourist guidebooks as the first windmills in Istria. The windmills in Medulin differed from similar ones because instead of fixed sails they had rotating domes that adapted to the wind direction. Both windmills were in operation until 1910, the one at the waterfront was modernized in 1910 and became steam-driven after a steam engine had been installed. After more than a century at a standstill, these windmills are being reconstructed and are becoming a famous landmark reflecting the local way of life.
Pula is the largest city in Istria County. The city is best known for its many surviving ancient Roman buildings, the most famous of which is its 1st-century amphitheatre, which is among the six largest surviving Roman arenas in the world and locally known as the Arena. This is one of the best preserved amphitheatres from antiquity and is still in use today during summer film festivals. During the World War II Italian fascist administration, there were attempts to dismantle the arena and move it to mainland Italy, which were quickly abandoned due to the costs involved.
Two other notable and well-preserved ancient Roman structures are the 1st-century AD triumphal arch, the Arch of the Sergii and the co-eval Temple of Augustus, built in the 1st century AD built on the forum during the reign of the Roman emperor Augustus.
The Twin Gates (Porta Gemina) is one of the few remaining gates after the city walls were pulled down at the beginning of the 19th century. It dates from the mid-2nd century, replacing an earlier gate. It consists of two arches, columns, a plain architrave and a decorated frieze. Close by are a few remains of the old city wall.
The Gate of Hercules dates from the 1st century. At the top of the single arch one can see the bearded head of Hercules, carved in high-relief, and his club on the adjoining voussoir. A damaged inscription, close to the club, contains the names of Lucius Calpurnius Piso and Gaius Cassius Longinus who were entrusted by the Roman senate to found a colony at the site of Pula. Thus it can be deduced that Pula was founded between 47 and 44 BC.
The Augustan Forum was constructed in the 1st century BC, close to the sea. In Roman times it was surrounded by temples of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva. This Roman commercial and administrative centre of the city remained the main square of classical and medieval Pula . It still is the main administrative and legislative centre of the city. The temple of Augustus is still preserved today. A part of the back wall of the temple of Juno was integrated into the Communal Palace in the 13th century.
Two Roman theatres have withstood the ravages of time: the smaller one (diameter c. 50 m; 2nd century AD) near the centre, the larger one (diameter c. 100 m; 1st century AD) on the southern edge of the city.
Rovinj was already a settlement of Illyrian tribes before being captured by the Romans, who called it Arupinium or Mons Rubineus, and later Ruginium and Ruvinium. Built on an island close to the coast, it was connected with the mainland in 1763 by filling in the channel.
It became part of the Byzantine empire, then in the sixth century part of the Exarchate of Ravenna and in 788 part of the Frankish empire. Then it came under the rule of different feudal lords for several centuries. From 1209 it was ruled by the Aquileian patriarch.
From 1283 to 1797 Rovinj was one of the most important towns of Istria under the Republic of Venice. The city was fortified by two rows of walls with three town gates. The remaining town walls date from this period. Close to the pier one can find the old town gate Balbi's Arch, dating from 1680, and a late-Renaissance clock tower. The city got its statutes in 1531. After the fall of Venice and the Napoleonic interlude, Rovinj was part of the Austrian Empire until World War I. Then it belonged to Italy from 1918 to 1947, when it was ceded to SR Croatia within SFR Yugoslavia.
CULTURAL AND HISTORYCAL SITES
The Old Town is where life started on what used to be an island secured by medieval walls. The city had seven gates, three of which have been preserved to this day: The Gate of St. Benedict, The Portica and The Gate of the Holy Cross. The first archeological traces of life date back to the Bronze Age, and the old city started developing in the 3rd century. The limited space conditioned the construction of narrow houses, narrow streets and small squares. It's an unique place to visit. The largest monument in the city, the Church of St. Euphemia is a Venetian Baroque building restored between the 1725 and 1736. The bell tower was designed by the Milanese architect Alessandro Monopola, a replica of the Church of St. Mark in Venice. The tower construction started in 1651 and lasted 26 years. On top of the tower there is a large copper statue of St. Euphemia that was set in 1758 after the wooden statue was destroyed by a thunder. There is a wonderful view from the tower accessible from inside the church.
The town clock and a small fountain are located on the main town square. The town clock once represented the tower on the south corner of the former town walls. Built in the 12th century, the tower was extended several times. The town clock with its Venetian lion, the symbol of Serenissima dating back to mid-19th century, was situated on the town gate fort near the Califfi Palace.
A town in central Istria, located on top of a steep hill that dominates the Mirna River, with a staircase of 1052 steps leads up to it. It is attractive because of its medieval atmosphere (the walls in the shape of a ring and two half rings) with a view spreading over vineyards and fields of the Motovun forest, which belong in the category of Forest Parks. It is very close to the most visited tourist cities of the Adriatic Porec, Rovinj and Umag. It is a favorite excursion destination for tourists, but also the center of congress and cultural tourism - this is the headquarters of the International Research Centre for Late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages and the International Center of Anthropological Sciences (ICAM). Motovun hosts a traditional film festival at the end of July that has become an integral part of the Croatian cultural offer. During the summer there is also an international summer school of architecture and an international summer school of health. The Motovun forest is a habitat for underground mushrooms called truffles that are extracted with the help of specially trained dogs. In the summer and during early autumn black truffles grow, whereas in late autumn and winter, the most delicious and most expensive Istrian white truffles grow.
Labin and Rabac
Labin, a picturesque town situated on a 320 meters high hill and only three kilometers from the seaside, it is situated on the hill above Rabac. Its old name of Albona was first mentioned in 285 AD. The rich cultural and architectural heritage of Labin is enlivened by number of art ateliers and by the bustling youth gathering in the coffee bars scattered around the old town. The Sculpture Park in nearby Dubrova features over 70 forma viva stone sculptures. After a walk through the narrow streets of the Old Town, pay a visit to the Town Museum with its archaeological and unique in this part of Europe, a miniature coal mine.
By the middle of the 19th century, Rabac was a small fishermen village with hardly ten houses. Due to the beautiful bay and splendid, tame surroundings, it soon attracted first visitors and today, Rabac is a well-known tourist resort. Tourism in Rabac began to develop during the sixties, when this small resort, due to its natural beauty , got the flattering name of 'The Pearl of the Kvarner Bay'.