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Exploring Istria – Charming Countryside of Croatia
Exploring Istria – Charming Countryside of Croatia
Posted in: Croatia

If you think that Croatia’s coastlines are becoming too crowded with tourists for your taste and peace of mind, you may want to go inland and discover its charming countryside. The region of Istria is the perfect destination to visit if remote hilltop villages, centuries…

If you think that Croatia’s coastlines are becoming too crowded with tourists for your taste and peace of mind, you may want to go inland and discover its charming countryside. The region of Istria is the perfect destination to visit if remote hilltop villages, centuries old buildings, pine forests and vineyards captivate your interest.

Croatia’s Istria is now compared to Italy’s Tuscany, with its lush rolling hills, charming centuries old mansions, exquisite wines and mouthwatering dishes. Its splendid landscape has inspired many artists and you will be delighted to discover plenty of art galleries in the various scenic towns of the region.

The best way to explore the area is by car because public transportation does not come often. However, if you have the stamina and the daring, you can also go hiking but you must have plenty of time to spare if you want to do your sight seeing this way.

If you are starting your tour from the popular southern coastlines of Istria, you will first pass by the charming little town of Svetvincenat where Renaissance architecture, towering cypress trees and a 13th century Grimani Castle are the main attractions. This is a lovely town to visit and definitely worth a whole day or more to explore.

You can then proceed to the heart of the region, in the town of Pazin. The Kastel is the area’s major attraction not only because it is a well-preserved 9th century structure but also due to the Ethnographic Museum it houses and the almost 300 feet chasm that can be viewed here. The museum is considered to be one of the best in Croatia and displays a collection of traditional costumes, farm implements and church bells from different periods of the Croatia’s history.

The chasm, on the other hand, is located right next to the Kastel and its dizzying height is enough to make anyone a bit dizzy for at least a fraction of a second. While at Pazin, make sure to visit the nearby town of Beram just less than 4 miles away to view the stunning frescoes in the gothic church of St. Mary. The church is located in a forest which adds to the charm of the whole experience.

If you find well-preserved ancient buildings irresistible, then the small town of Gracisce located southwest of Pazin is a must visit for you. There are several ancient landmarks such as the Church of the Mother of God at the Square dating back to 1425, the 13th century church of St. Eufemia and the gothic Palace of Solomon, among others.

If you don’t care for ancient buildings but cannot say no to truffles, then you should not miss the town of Buzet. The towns forests are known for several species of prized truffles that are sold at exorbitant prices in various parts of the world. If you are lucky and if you have the bucks to pay for it, you just might satisfy your craving for a delectable truffle dish while you are there.

If you delight in the arts, then the town of Motovun and the neighboring Groznjan are perfect destinations for you. Both of these towns boast of resident artists that were so taken by the beauty and natural grandeur of these areas that they chose to live there. You will discover many art galleries to explore in these towns all full of exquisite pieces of art to admire. The beautifully preserved centuries old buildings found here make these destinations even more enchanting.

The old village of Kotli is one of the most attractive vacation resorts in central Istria. It is located east of Buzet in the valley of the River Rečina, which after connecting with the rivulet Draga, continues to flow as the River Mirna, the longest and most known Istrian river. Due to its isolation, the village of Kotli has kept its rural 19th century look. It also managed to preserve its mills that were in use till 1964.

Buje was known as the “sentinel of Istria” for its hilltop site located 10 km (6.21 mi) inland from the Adriatic Sea. It still commands an excellent panorama. Buje has a rich history; traces of life in the region date back to prehistoric times. The town developed from a Roman and Venetian settlement into a medieval town. Buje offers a blend of gentle Mediterranean climate, good food and a quiet setting, away from the hustle and bustle of the more touristic Istrian coastal resorts.

Grožnjan, known as the city of artists, surrounded by green hills and a magical white soil is a must-see destination for those who want to discover the treasure chest of Istria. Because of its interesting history, which has been written in every nook and naturally permeates the present, it is rich in ancient churches, prehistoric finds, ancient castles, magnificent palaces and many other old buildings.

Momjan is a beautiful settlement only 18 km from the Riviera of Umag and Novigrad, with a rich history and amazing natural beauties. Momjan can be divided in two parts; the lower and the upper. In the lower part there is a bell tower (22 m) and the church of St. Martin from the 15th century. On a rock on the west side of the church there is a ruin of an ancient castle, hiding very important events from the history of the northern Istria.

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