"Koper - Capodistria" Top 5 Page for this destination Koper by Willettsworld

Koper Travel Guide: 139 reviews and 398 photos

Koper’s located on Slovenia’s very small coastline and in recent times has grown into the countries only port. As far as tourism’s concerned, Koper plays second fiddle to its more ritzy cousin Piran, further down the coast but despite a lot of modern development, it has managed to preserve its compact medieval centre.

The city of Koper developed on an island that was separated from the mainland by a canal. The ancient Greek sailors named it Aegida whilst the Romans named it Insula Capraria (“goat island”) after finding it being used to raise goats before naming it Capris. The Byzantine Empire (between mid 6th and 8th centuries) named it Justinopolis and the Aquileia Patriarchs (who took over the town in the 13th century) named it Caput Histriae – ‘Capital of Istria’ – from which its Italian name Capodistria is derived. In the Middle Ages, Koper was still an island surrounded by walls and connected with the mainland by a wooden bridge which was protected by the mighty Lion Castle fortress which sadly no longer stands.

Koper’s golden age came during the Venetian Republic in the 15th and 16th centuries when it experienced economic (trade, salt production) and cultural prosperity (painting, music). However, Koper’s importance began to diminish in the 18th century when Trieste was proclaimed a free port. From the 19th century up to the First World War the town was ruled by the Austrian Hapsburg monarchy. Between WWI and WWII it was administered by the Italians who drained the saltpans that were abandoned in 1912. After the defeat of Italy and Germany in WWII, the disputed area of the Adriatic coast – the so-called Free Territory of Trieste – was divided into two zones with Koper falling into Zone B which then went to Yugoslavia whilst Trieste fell into Zone A which fell under Italian jurisdiction. As Koper has had such strong connections with Italy over the centuries, Italian is widely spoken here and is today the centre of the Italian ethnic community of Slovenia.

  • Last visit to Koper: Jul 2006
  • Intro Written Sep 26, 2006
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