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Magical Istria - A Croatian Photologue

Updated on December 30, 2011

Magical Istria

If you have never heard of Istria, let me take this opportunity to show you how I feel about this special place.

At the time that many of these photos were taken, Istria (Istra, locally), a region of Croatia near Italy and Slovenia, was being called "The Mediterranean, as it Once Was." While I do not know how the Mediterranean once was, I do know that there is something magical about this place, which has been shaped by the Adriatic Sea. Maybe because it has changed hands so many times, since the time of Greece and Rome, to Italy and Yugoslavia. Istria maintains an Italian feel, and many Italians live on the northwestern peninsula.

If you ask a local if they are Croatian, they will correct you with Istrian.

These photos were taken on a series of trips, one where I met my father's family for the first time. I hope these photos will convince you to visit, and that you will see the opportunity you have to visit a place that feels so authentic you feel sad when you think of that it is changing.

Holy Rocks

Holy Rocks, near Verdula and Pula
Holy Rocks, near Verdula and Pula | Source

Holy Rocks - This photo was taken just south of Pula, near Verdula, on the Adriatic Sea. We parked our car at a resort and walked through a small forest of pine trees that leaned at an angle towards the sea and sun. I'll never forget the smell of that forest.

This spot is the ruins of an old church. Many couples have their wedding photos taken here. There were no tourists, and we ate sandwiches and watched men fish. Sailboats came and went.

Rovinj, Medieval Romance

Streets of Rovinj, night.
Streets of Rovinj, night. | Source

If you visit Istria, you must have dinner and drinks in Rovinj (or Rovigno) at night. Small pizzas and wine, followed by shots of honey rakija. After a good buzz, you will climb the steep hill past artisans' shops selling handmade goods, open late for your convenience. At the top of the hill you will lose your breath, the church, Church of St. Euphemia, a St. George Church that once held the remains of the Saint. A church has been on this spot since at least the 10th Century.

You will then walk down the hill, the non-tourist way, through the medieval streets. That's where this photo was taken.


Pivo (beer).
Pivo (beer). | Source

Pivo - Much magic can be seen after a few drinks, and there is none better than Croatia's own Ozujsko.

This photo was taken near sunset, near Rijeka, probably where pizza was invented, if not mastered.

Green Croatia

Green Istria. Homes dot the hills.
Green Istria. Homes dot the hills. | Source

When you return home from Istria, you will notice that your life is not as green as theirs. Shades of green and vitality, rows of wine grapes, and homes carved into hills overlooking fields and barns.

Istria, Friend and Family

Friend and family.
Friend and family. | Source

In Istria, you are family. On the left is my friend, who accompanied my brother and I as we met our family for the first time. He was treated like a relation, which means wine at breakfast. This shot was taken as we visited another relative's house on our whirlwind tour of meats, cheeses and homemade wine.

Clouds Over Hum

Clouds hang over Hum, Croatia, the smallest town in the world.
Clouds hang over Hum, Croatia, the smallest town in the world. | Source

A trip to Istria is not complete without a visit to Hum, the smallest town in the world. That's what they call themselves. And many others, too. This fortified town, more like an encampment, boasts a gift shop and a fantastic restaurant, Konoba Humska.

Sunset Over Motovun's Mythical Forest

Sunset, Motovun.
Sunset, Motovun. | Source

Situated atop an 860+ foot hill in the center of Istria, the medieval town of Motovun (Montana) is the perfect place for a romantic walk through winding streets. The walls of the fortifications provide a stunning 360 degree view of all of Istria.

This photo was taken at a restaurant as the sun set over the valley, where truffles are hunted as a tasty and expensive delicacy. Locals say the forests are haunted, because of all the blood that has been spilled there defending the town. I felt chills as we walked down the hill in the dark, trading ghost stories.

All Images are Owned by and Copyrighted by the Author. No unauthorized reproduction. If you'd like to inquire about the photos or using them, email me at IstriaInfo (at)

If you would like one on one help planning a trip to Croatia for only five dollars, click here.


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    • profile image

      Silvana 6 years ago

      thank you for your welcome marriedwithdebt, will certainly look in now and then, very best wishes to you and your family for christmas and the New year Regards :)

    • marriedwithdebt profile image

      marriedwithdebt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Hi Silvana - thanks for stopping by. It is such a special place. I am always happy to meet an Istrian who is proud of a region that transcends nationalities and borders, and is simply the families and people who live there. Hope to see you soon.

    • profile image

      silvana 6 years ago

      its a lovely place with alot of History i was born there but not as a Croatian but a istrian/italian, and i will always feel so no matter where i reside now proud of my istrian/italian roots :)

    • marriedwithdebt profile image

      marriedwithdebt 6 years ago from Illinois

      My father is Croatian, so I guess I'm technically half Croat. Lived in US my entire life though. I hope you get a chance to go, especially to visit family.

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 6 years ago from North Carolina


      Are you croation? Wow.. Small world.. I have cousins there and in Slovenia. I plan to visit one day. I am book marking this for future reference. Awesome!

    • marriedwithdebt profile image

      marriedwithdebt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Hi Ocean, thanks for stopping by. Istria is a great place to experience culture without the overwhelming tourist factor. Yes, tourism is very important there, but it doesn't feel "touristy" for some reason.

    • oceansnsunsets profile image

      Paula 6 years ago from The Midwest, USA

      I sure would love to visit a place like Istria, it seems like a wonderful part of the world. This is the second time recently that I was visiting beautiful photos of Croatia, a place I had not ever really considered going before. What a special trip you had. Thanks so much for sharing these neat photos of a great place.

    • marriedwithdebt profile image

      marriedwithdebt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Thanks JT - it is a special place indeed.

    • JT Walters profile image

      JT Walters 6 years ago from Florida

      I alwas have friends from this region of the world. Your photos are excellent.


    • marriedwithdebt profile image

      marriedwithdebt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Hey Simone, thanks for stopping by. I am always pleasantly surprised when a photo comes out with an impressionistic effect. Helps maintain the original feeling of wandering the streets after wine with friends and family.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      These are splendid! Your photo of the streets of Rovinj at night is my favorite. I love the blurred glow of the background! So cool!

    • profile image

      natalijad 6 years ago

      I am glad that you have a positive opinion about my country.I look forward to new articles:).

      I hope that Polly C will also have the opportunity to visit Croatia again.

    • marriedwithdebt profile image

      marriedwithdebt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Hi Natalijad - I am always glad to meet people from this great country. I hope you will follow me here, as I plan to write more about my travels in Croatia. Thanks for your kind words.

    • profile image

      natalijad 6 years ago

      Wonderful hub!I am from Croatia,and I am always happy when I see someone writing about my country:).Although it is a small country, there are plenty of beautiful places, I hope that you will have the opportunity to visit them.

    • marriedwithdebt profile image

      marriedwithdebt 6 years ago from Illinois

      Thanks for stopping by Polly - Sometimes I wish I lived in England so I could pop on over to Croatia more often. I'm going back next year, so I will have to wait.

    • Polly C profile image

      Polly C 6 years ago from UK

      I love Croatia - been twice, although not to the parts you described. I think it really is one of the best places I have ever been and yes, I think it still is the 'mediterranean as it once was'.