Discovering Croatia – Istria to Split

Croatia – everyone knows about the marvelous coast of this country…considered one of the most beautiful in the world. But I wanted to see what else the country had to offer. After driving 1900 kms in six days, I can honestly say that there is an astonishing wealth of interesting archaeological and historical sites…..

Day 1  – Our flight arrived into Zagreb at 3pm and by 4pm the GPS was taking us to Motovun, one of Istria’s fortress hill towns. Istria is gorgeous – castles and fortifications on hill after hill and miles of rich forests. We then drove on to Revinj, a small seaside town. Our hotel was located along the quay where fishing boats dock, and is filled with outdoor cafes. After our long drive, sipping the cold glass of Croatian wine in one of these terraces and watching the people stroll the car-free streets was exactly what we needed. Tomorrow is another day…

Day 2: After leaving Revinj early, we drove to Poreč where we walked along the sea walls of the 6th century Euphrasian Basilica. It was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 primarily due to the intricate mosaics covering the walls of the apse. We then drove into the mountains to one of the tiny fortified hill towns, Beram, in search a St. Mary’s Church. We had to search for the woman who had the church key, but when she opened the door we were astounded. The interior of this small 15th century church was covered with spectacular frescoes depicting the life of Mary. What a gem of a find! Then it was on to Pula, noted for its still standing Roman amphitheater, one of the six largest surviving Roman arenas in the world. As we walked the streets of this beautiful city, around every corner we bumped into yet another Roman ruin, but for me the tiny Temple to Rome and Augustus was a highlight. We dined and slept well in our small private cabin on the ferry that traveled from Rijeka to Split.

Day 3: Diocletian’s Palace was even more fascinating than expected. The emperor built this colossal palace in the early 4th century as a place of retirement. Centuries later and after its abandonment, the citizens of the city began to move within the palace walls and today there are homes, restaurants, galleries and hotels scattered throughout the remains of the Roman citadel. Absolutely stunning!

More to come………

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