The Istrian territory

Istria country, a large, triangular peninsula pointing down into the northern Adriatic, is the westernmost county of Croatia which includes the biggest part of the Istrian peninsula. It is bordered by Slovenia to the north and by the Kvarner Region to the east. Because of important ethnical minorities, especially Italians, the region adopts a bilingual form. Istria is often divided into Red Istria, Yellow (or Grey) Istria and White Istria, named after the color predominant in the landscape. “White Istria” refers to the north-eastern part of the peninsula, where the high mountains of Ćićarija and Učka rise up to 1396 m. “White” Istria takes its name from the white limestone rock that swoops steeply into the interior of the peninsula and the rugged eastern coastal area, which is far more sparsely populated than the western coast. “Yellow or Grey Istria” occupies the central part of the peninsula, the area between the Gulf of Trieste and Kvarner bay and gets its name from another type of fertile soil: the greyish-colored flysch, a mixture of marl, sandstone, clay and limestone. Between the central part and the western coastal zone (the most populated) extends a limestone plateau with resting terra rossa soils. These red soils gave this part of the country the name “Red Istria”.

Vodnjan city

According to the legend, it developed out of seven properties, or villae, which were part of the colonial goods of Pula-Pola. Its name has its origins in a Roman personal name that appeared in written sources as Vicus Atinianus or Adinianum. The large Piazza del Popolo in the centre of the town denotes the old place where a castle was built. The place was irregular in shape and had three doors that allowed access to the castle and the square: one towards the Mercerie, another led to the Contrada del Forno Grande and the third linked the two quarters (Contrada); Portarol and Duomo. The present-day town square was formed after the castle was destroyed in 1808 and the surrounding streets were paved with its stone.

It retained its medieval urbanist character with several main streets and winding side-alleys with palaces and churches, of which the largest is the Parish Church of St. Blaise with the highest campanile in Istria. The treasury of the Church of St. Blaise is rich in artworks and non-decomposed bodies of mummified saints, such as St Sebastian and St Barbara, have particular significance. The body of St Nicolosa, a Benedictine nun who died in Venice in 1512, is particularly well preserved and is often described as the best preserved mummy in Europe.