The Ancient City of Motovun

If you are keen to head further inland, there are few sights that are quite like Motovun. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Motovun is a fortified medieval city - but that isn't the only reason why the city is as loved as it is.

The reason why it is so popular is undoubtedly, in part, due to its stunning location: Motovun sits on an elevation high above the valley surrounding the Mirna River, and would, at one time, have been the home of a prehistoric hillfort. Like many places in Istria, Motovun has had a varied past in terms of occupants and leaders, but this has just created an ancient city with a thoroughly varied and interesting history and architecture.

In fact, the city itself comprises of three main parts, the oldest of which dates back to the 13th century. Smaller structures existed here before then, and gravestones of Roman inhabitants have been uncovered and are dated to the 1st century. In terms of what lies there today, you will find a strong, solid stone wall running around the entire perimeter of the town (today, you can freely walk along the top of this) and the three component parts of the town are connected with towers and city gates - all in varying Roman, Gothic and Renaissance styles.

Within the walls, you will find the Parish Church of St Steven - a 17th century church, believed to have been designed by famed Venetian architect Andrea Palladio - and just outside, you can't miss the forest of Motovun, a protected four square miles of woodland that is said to differ radically not only from other nearby forests, but forests in the entire European region in terms of soil type, wildlife, and the much sought-after rare black and white truffles that grow in the earth here.

Today, Motovun is home to an international film festival, and the growing tourism trade has ensured that the city can be appropriately maintained to stay in the same condition as it is now. In short, Motovun may be an uphill trip away from Istria's glistening coasts, but it is a journey that is incredibly well rewarded.

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