Istria (lat. Histria, tal. Istria čakavski Istrija, Jistra) is the largest Adriatic peninsula. It is located in the northern part of the Adriatic, in Croatia, Slovenia and Italy.
The geographical border of Istria runs along the line from the bay of Milje (Italian: Muggia), to the bay of Preluka. The western coast of Istria is shallower and more indented, while the eastern is steeper and less populated. Istria is usually divided into three parts:
- Red Istria (west coast) - where red-brown soil predominates (crljenica)
- Gray Istria (central Istria) - due to the gray clay soil
- White Istria (slopes of Učka and the eastern part of the peninsula) - because of the rocky soil
The eastern coast of Istria (the so-called Liburnia, ie the cities of Brseč, Lovran, Opatija, Volosko, Matulji, Kastav), or the western part of the Kvarner Bay gravitate to Rijeka, so when the counties were created in 1993, that part of Istria was administratively assigned to Primorje-Gorski Kotar County. most of the Croatian part of Istria that gravitates to Pula is administratively located in the County of Istria, which covers an area of 2,813 km2. The most important cities and municipalities in Istria are Pula, Pazin, Poreč, Rovinj, Opatija, Buje, Umag, Novigrad, Labin, Buzet, Motovun (all in Croatia), and Koper and Piran in Slovenia.
The name Istria comes from the name of the prehistoric tribe / people Histri, who lived in the area. The Romans describe the Histrians as infamous pirates who knew how to take advantage of the fact that they are very dangerous for navigation due to the numerous shallows of the Istrian coast. The Romans conquered Istria only after two military campaigns - in 178 and 177 BC. Kr. when they are defeated by Consul Manlia Vulzon. The last resistance was offered by the Histrians at their headquarters Nesactium near Pula. According to Titus Livius, the last defenders, including the last king Epulon, took their own lives by throwing themselves off the city walls. By this event Nesactium is often compared to Masada.
In Istria, a part of Croatia can be singled out that covers about 90% of the Istrian peninsula and is inhabited mostly by Croats with about 75% of the population while minorities make up about 25% of the population of which Italians 7% and the rest various other peoples. Istria as part of Slovenia covers about 9% of the Istrian peninsula, and Slovenes are the absolute majority population. Istria, which is part of Italy, covers less than 1% of Istria and includes only two small municipalities near Trieste, one of which is predominantly Slovene and the other Italian.
The vast majority of the inhabitants of the Croatian part of Istria speak the Chakavian dialect of the Croatian language. In some of these speeches (near the border with Slovenia) the interrogative pronoun "kaj" is used, so they are often mistaken for Kajkavians. The structure and characteristics of these speeches are distinctly Chakavian. In some cities on the west coast, and in some villages in the Buje region, there is an Italian minority (7% of the population) who speak Italian. In the Slovene part of Istria, the Slovene language is spoken, and similarly to the Croatian part of Istria, the Italian minority is represented in small numbers.
In the east of Istria, at the foot of Ćićarija, in several smaller villages live Istro-Romanians or Ćići, a population of Romanian origin who speak their own (Istro-Romanian) language which is a mixture of Romanian and Croatian and today they are mostly Croats.
If we mention a holiday in Istria, most will imagine the sun, the sea and the gentle slopes of the hills in the interior of Istria. Follow our tips in discovering the lesser-known side of Istria and enrich your vacation with a multitude of new, unusual experiences.
Observe the stars from the Višnjan Observatory
During your vacation in Istria, set off from the beaches and the sea coast, towards Višnjan, where unusual nights of observing celestial bodies await you. Višnjan Observatory (Tičan Observatory) is 3 km away from Višnjan and only half an hour's drive from northwestern Istria. The observatory is located in the part of Istria with the original nights, so the planets can be seen there most beautifully. More than 1.400 small planets have been discovered by observing the sky with a one-meter lens telescope.
Relax during your vacation by visiting Istrian caves
Want refreshments during the hot summer days? Why not go on a trip to the interior of Istria and visit the Istrian caves? We recommend a morning visit to the Maramornica cave, and use the afternoon to visit the Baredine cave or the Feštin kingdom. Don't forget to bring a long-sleeved T-shirt because the temperature in the caves ranges from 12 to 16˚C.
One of the largest underground rooms in Istria can be seen in Mramornica, a beautifully landscaped cave located near Brtonigla. The cave has excellently maintained roads and preserves wide stalagmites, some of which are up to 13 meters high. Very rare and unusual formations, stalactites, were also found in the cave. A visit to the cave can be complemented by wine tasting and a visit to a nearby pet park.
Baredine Cave is located near Nova Vas, about halfway between Visnjan and Porec, and it can be reached from Brtonigla in just 30 minutes. Visits to Baredine Cave are organized under the expert guidance of trained guides who will take visitors through five rich underground rooms to the underground lake. Around the cave there is a cafe and restaurant, a souvenir shop and a children's playground, and you can see a permanent exhibition of historic tractors.
If you have enough time, why not head further south, towards the Feština kingdom, a cave located near Žminj, more precisely near the town of Feština. The tour of the cave takes place within a walk of 100 meters and lasts about 20 minutes. The guide will describe the cave in Croatian, Italian, English or German.
Take a full day boat trip along the west coast of Istria
Istria is your chosen holiday destination during the summer months and you want to take a break from lazing on the beach, so start exploring the panoramic views of the west coast of Istria. The boat trip departs immediately in the morning from Umag, after 8 am, while the return is scheduled at dinner time. Enjoy the whole day with a breathtaking view of the west coast.
Take a look at the Lim Channel from a different perspective as you enter under its auspices. The boat will stop in cities rich in history and culture, Porec and Rovinj, so feel free to walk and explore their beauties.