Motovun: Exploring the Historic Charm and Cultural Richness of Istria’s Hilltop Jewel

Motovun is one of those places everyone knows about, and if you’re traveling around Istria, you must stop by and explore it. It isn’t big, so you don’t need hours and hours, but I suggest you stop at least for lunch and a glass of wine. I didn’t do it, but I won’t make that mistake once again.

I came during a beautiful afternoon, and since I had to return to Rijeka in a couple of hours, I didn’t have much time. I feel bad about it, but the next time I go there – Motovun is a place where I’m going for lunch!

Enough of my experience, let me tell you some things you could easily find on the internet.

Motovun, a picturesque town and municipality in Western Croatia, is nestled in the heart of Istria. Known as Montona in Italian, it sits atop a steep hill, renowned for its well-preserved medieval Istrian fortress. With historical roots stretching back to prehistoric times, Motovun was a stronghold for Illyrian and Celtic tribes. Its name, of Celtic origin, translates to ‘a town in the mountains.’

The town comprises four distinct settlements: Brkač, Kaldir, Motovun itself, and Sveti Bartol, each offering its own unique charm. Geographically located in northern Istria, Motovun is close to the towns of Buzet and Pazin and approximately 20 kilometers from the sea.

Motovun’s real allure lies in its division into three parts. The oldest section sits at the summit, followed by ‘Podgrađe’ and then ‘Gradiciol,’ which cascades down the slope. A walk through Motovun is akin to a journey back in time, with its medieval architecture and ambiance.

The town’s defense system, consisting of two rings of walls, is a highlight. The inner ring, dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries, encircles the town’s oldest part. The outer ring, constructed in the 15th century, once encompassed Podgrađe.

A notable feature is the view from the 17th-century city lodge, located next to the inner city gates on the town square. This square is named after Renaissance composer and printer Andrea Antico, a native of Motovun. Opposite the church stands the 12th-century Communal Palace, expanded in the 16th and 17th centuries. Beneath the square lies a cistern that historically provided water to the entire town. For those seeking a physical challenge, a stairway of 1052 steps, the longest in Croatia, leads to the top of the town.

Motovun was historically linked by the Parenzana railway, connecting it with Poreč and extending to Slovenia and Italy. The old railway station below the hill serves as a reminder of this bygone era.

Economically, the region prospers through agriculture and tourism. Motovun has been a host to notable figures like Miroslav Šutej, Mario Andretti, and Aldo Andretti, among others.

Culturally, the town is a hub of activity. The Motovun Film Festival, initiated in 1999, is a significant event here. Literature enthusiasts may recognize Motovun as the setting for Vladimir Nazor’s famous work “Veli Jože.”

In summary, Motovun is a harmonious blend of history, culture, and breathtaking vistas. Its rich historical legacy, coupled with its contemporary cultural vibrancy, makes it an enticing destination for those exploring the diverse aspects of Croatian life and heritage.

Check the Showcase page of Motovun by clicking HERE.


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