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Groznjan – a Jewel in the Heart of Istria

In April 2010 I visited Istria for the first time. It is a big peninsula in the northwest part of the Croatian Adriatic, famous for it’s beautiful coast, picturesque towns, wine and truffles (yum!). I’ve heard and read a lot about it’s small towns in the inland, but I did not expect them to be so picturesque. One of the places we visited was Groznjan – beautiful old town located on the top of the hill in the heart of green Istria. From there you can enjoy the view on the surrounding villages, fertile valleys with grapes and olive trees and the Adriatic sea in front of Novigrad and Umag. It’s irresistible charm and old, narrow cobbled streets will, no doubt, enchant any visitor.

We arrived in the late afternoon to Groznjan. The sun was low on the horizon and the town was bathed in the warm yellow light, which made it even more compelling. Old houses, close to one another within the city walls and tricked around the church tower. And a beautiful, warm light. A paradise for the eyes. There was nobody anywhere – the town was completely calm and silent. Obviously, it was too early time of year for the tourist crowd, and too late in the afternoon for any activities of it’s inhabitants. But I cannot say that such an atmosphere did not quite fit. We could peacefully enjoy the tour and shooting.

On one of the entrances to the town is the chapel of Holy Spirit and the cemetery of St. Nicholas. We visited and then headed towards the center.

Chapel

Entrance to the town cemetery and the road leading to the center of the town.

Cemetery in Groznjan

From the western part of the town, the view on the surrounding area is beautiful.

In the afternoon sunlight

Grožnjan was once surrounded by thick walls whose remains are now carefully preserved. We arrived in front of Grožnjan cathedral built in the 14th century which was originally dedicated to the Mother of God, and today it is the church of Saints Vitus, Modesta and Kresencije.

Bell tower in Groznjan

Even though the church door was locked, I managed to snap a photo through the glass. Looks really nice inside.

Inside the cathedral

Before we took a walk through the town centre, we took a break to enjoy the silence and the afternoon sun.

In the afternoon sunlight

It is hard to believe, but I even have one photo of me, with all the photo equipment, of course. Even though I prefer to be behind the lens, judging by the quantity of my appearance on the photos, one could think I haven’t been anywhere. I guess that’s the usual issue of being a photographer :))

Me

A bit artistic view on the panorama in front of the town. Hills of Istria and the Adriatic sea in the distance.

High hopes

Amazing feeling overwhelmed me when I walked those quiet, empty streets. There was no one there, but still you could feel life. I’ve felt like as being watched from every corner and every window.

Old Groznjan streets

Despite all that quietness, a number of small galleries, wineries and truffle shops with a carefully arranged display windows were everywhere. Somebody lives there after all. Only they didn’t want to be seen. We continued the tour making sure not to miss any of the streets. We wanted to see and enjoy each and every one of them.

Old Groznjan streets

Old Groznjan streets

Everything was in some sort of hibernation, in anticipation of summer when this place is like a beehive – lively and with a lot of people and events 24 hours a day. Although, I preferred it this way: as if I had the exclusive right to enjoy the beauty and history of this town. And of course, taking photos without distractions and for as much as I want. :)

Old Groznjan streets

However, there was some life on the streets. Cats.

They were literally on every corner, sitting passively and seeing us off with their view.

Old Groznjan streets

Cats of Groznjan

Cats of Groznjan

Small town square.

Old Groznjan streets

Old Groznjan streets

There were really many interesting things to shoot.

Arches

We even saw two people walking by.

Old Groznjan streets

Old Groznjan streets

Old Groznjan streets - sunset

After the sunset, it was time to go. And a bit of romance for the end – a couple enjoying the sunset. :))

Romantic