"Istria" Top 5 Page for this destination Istria by JLBG

Istria Travel Guide: 2,208 reviews and 5,700 photos

Istria is a triangular peninsula of the northern Adriatic between the gulf of Trieste and the gulf of Rijeka. Geologically, it is a typical karstic region and this is not a surprise that the name of karst comes from Karst (with a capital), the southern part of Slovenia, Northern part of Istria.

The first inhabitants of Istria were the Histres, an Illyrian population, who gave the peninsula their name. The Roman Empire ruled Istria 650 years, from 178 BC when the Histres were defeated. When the Roman Empire collapsed, the Goths, in 476, became the rulers, followed by Byzance in 539 and in 788 the Francs of the Holy Roman Empire. Istria has been, under various statuses, inside the Holy Roman Empire for almost 650 years. In 1060, Istria became an autonomous margraveship inside the Holy Roman Empire, ruled by the Patriarchs of Aquilea. In 1420, it fell under the rule of the Republic of Venice for nearly 400 years as it remained in charge until 1806. No wonder that the print of Venice on Istrian architecture is so deep. From 1806 to 1813, it was part of the Illyrian provinces of Napoléon's empire. After Napoléon's fall and for a century, Istria became a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, heir of the Holy Roman Empire. After WWI, Istria was allotted to Italy. After WW2, it had for a few years an Anglo-American and international administration and soon the main part was reunited to Croatia, a small part to Slovenia (Kopar, Izola, Piran and Podgrad), both belonging then to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. A small area, in the north West, close to Trieste (Muggia and San Dorligo), was united to Italy.

Beginning in the 7th century, Croats began to settle in Istria and since then constituted the main part of the population. Croatian, a south-western Slavic language which uses the roman script is the official language of Croatia. (more details to come on my Croatia page). However, because of the history of Istria, there has always been an important part of the population speaking Italian dialects, and thus, inside Croatia, the region of Istria has two official languages, Croatian and Italian. Many inhabitants are bilingual. Croat is the mother language to the vast majority of the population. Italian (or/and other Western Romance languages) is the native language to a fair amount of the natives, mainly on the coast, and the name of most cities appears in both languages : Rovinj/Rovigno, Pula/Pola, Vrsar/Orsera, etc...

Istriot is a Western Romance language specific to Istria, spoken in the Western Region on the coast of the Istrian Peninsula, on the upper northern part of the Adriatic Sea, in Croatia. Since the Venetian times, Istriot was widely spoken all over Istria. It's speakers never called it "Istriot", but it had six names after the six towns where it was spoken (in Dignano it was named "bumbaro", in Valle "vallese", in Rovigno "rovignese", in Sissano "sissanese", in Fasana "fasanese" and in Gallesano "gallesanese"). The name Istriot was given by the 19th century Italian linguist Graziadio Isaia Ascoli. There are currently only about 1,000 speakers left, (especially in the towns of Rovinj/Rovigno and Vodnjan/Dignano), thus making it an endangered language.

Istrian is a Venetian dialect spoken in Istria., Venetian proper is mainly spoken in north-eastern Italy where it is strongly rooted. It is another Western Romance language. It is very different from Standard Italian. The wide use of Venetian in neighboring North-eastern Italy helps the spread of Istrian. It seems that a good many of former Istriot speakers have now turned to Istrian (or/and to Italian). It is the mother language of up to 50,000 in Istria, all speaking also Croat [the number of 50,000 must be taken with caution. Official sources give a lower number].

Istro-Romanian is a language that has for centuries been spoken all over Istria, especially by shepherds coming from Romania. Over the last thousand years, it has evolved separately from Romanian, an eastern Romance language, and is now a different language. It is now spoken only in the Northeast of the Istrian Peninsula, in the village of Zejane and a few villages to the south. There should be 500 to 1,000 speakers.

Who said that Croatia was not (yet) in the EU ? You can see here that it IS ! It is half blurred, it must be a dream ? May be, but dreams are the cradle of future !

  • Last visit to Istria: Aug 2004
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (17)

Comments (13)

  • balhannah's Profile Photo
    Jan 27, 2012 at 4:28 AM

    What a wonderful, well preserved Arena, that would have been something to see!

  • Jan 29, 2009 at 5:24 AM

    I like the picture from Bale: small path street between the houses

  • LoriPori's Profile Photo
    Nov 27, 2008 at 3:30 AM

    Enjoyable page on Istria. I like how you highlight different towns from Hum the smallest town to Livade town of white truffles. The Istrian Murals are indeed magnifcent to see.

  • Sep 15, 2006 at 2:13 PM

    I grew up in Paz and if I could, I'd do it all over again. It's a place full of history, stories and legends.

  • acemj's Profile Photo
    Oct 30, 2005 at 9:20 AM

    Flengi and Livade are now new culinary targets for me! I missed Istria when I was in Croatia. Thanks for all the good info.

  • catalysta's Profile Photo
    Aug 2, 2005 at 9:52 AM

    Ho HUM, I bet we've got smaller towns in Alaska, LOL! Wonderful page, great writing, lots of fun & useful info on this spectacular region....cat

  • matcrazy1's Profile Photo
    Apr 18, 2005 at 9:00 AM

    Great page with many interesting tips. I didn't know about the world's smallest town ---> I skipped it. Great area both to relax (on... rocky beaches mainly) and sightseeing. Interesting mix of Italian (Roman) and Croatian (Slavic) influences as well.

  • KristaB's Profile Photo
    Nov 26, 2004 at 1:10 AM

    Great page, Jean-Louise, so interesting, and beautiful pictures! I love Istria, looking forward to more lovely tips here. Thank you for your visit - my Slo page needs updates, but I'm working on my Cro page now.

  • BarbaraForza's Profile Photo
    Oct 14, 2004 at 11:33 PM

    You really love this country...

  • aussiedoug's Profile Photo
    Oct 14, 2004 at 10:27 PM

    Lovely to discover another little gem from this part of the world. Beautiful pics too Jean-Louis. Merci!


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