As a child I loved reading various colorful magazines (this was in the pre-digital age), and some of my favorite sections involved titles such as “Did you know?” or “Believe it or not”. They had many facts about events from world history involving lots of secrets, guesses and interesting stories about people and places. Northwest Istria’s rich history is also full of intriguing facts that would have fit perfectly into such sections. Here’s a few interesting tidbits from ages past that drew my attention!
1. Northwest Istria has been inhabited since the dawn of civilization. For example, the area of Buje has been inhabited since the Bronze Age. The origin of these ancient settlers of Buje’s hills isn’t known but they did leave behind the remains of fortified settlements.
3. In the waters of Savudria, during the 12th century, a sea battle took place between the Venetians and a fleet commanded by the son of German emperor Barbarossa, who allegedly tried to hide in a cistern after his defeat. The origin of Savudria’s name harkens back to this event since “Salvo re” means “saved king”.
4. The Motovun forest used to provide wood for both Venetian galleons and their buildings’ support beams.
5. The Savudria lighthouse was built in 1818 and is the oldest active lighthouse on the Adriatic. The story says it was built by the Austrian Count Metternich as a token of his love for a beautiful Croatian noblewoman who, unfortunately, did not live to see it finished.
6. Novigrad has a very long tourist tradition so it got its first tourist guide way back in 1845.
7. Today a popular cyclist destination, the Parenzana path served as a railroad line between 1902 and 1935. After it closed, the rails were removed and put aboard a ship bound for Abyssinia but never reached their destination due to the (alleged) sinking of the ship in the Mediterranean.