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Motovun: A Medieval Mosaic

Motovun-Montona, an emblem of Istria’s rich historical tapestry, stands majestically on a cone-shaped hill, beckoning visitors with its medieval charm and panoramic views. Originating from a prehistoric hill-fort, this town boasts urban lines that trace back to ancient times, with its first mention in the historical records dating to 804 as Montouna.

A Rich Historical Palette

From the production centers of Istrian olive oil for the Roman Empire to the extraction of clay for amphorae near Motovun-Montona, the town’s early economic activities highlight its significance through the ages. The area played a crucial role during the rule of the Byzantine and Roman Empires, contributing significantly to the taxes and duties of the Istrian population.

Architectural Marvels and Noble Residences

The town’s architecture, with its Romanesque Praetorian Palace and Gothic forts, narrates stories of its Venetian period and the influence of noble families like the Barbos and Polesinis. The St. Nicholas Church near Rakotul, adorned with valuable wall paintings, further illustrates the town’s medieval life and artistic heritage.

The Venetian Struggle and Natural Wealth

Motovun-Montona’s strategic importance is underscored by its control over the Motovun Forest, a source of precious wood for the Venetian fleet. This natural wealth led to conflicts with neighboring principalities and underscored the region’s significance in the broader Venetian Republic.

Legends of Giants and Literary Inspirations

The town is also steeped in legends, such as those of giants who are said to have built its walls. These tales have inspired literary and artistic works, including Vladimir Nazor’s “Veli Jože” and a portrait of Nazor presented by Tito in 1946, sculpted by Vanja Radauš.

Interestingly, geological findings suggest that the Mirna River, which was once navigable to Motovun-Montona, significantly influenced the town’s development. Efforts to extend navigability for the Venetian fleet’s benefit are part of the town’s rich narrative, blending history with the dramatic landscapes of Istria.

Motovun-Montona is not merely a destination; it’s an experience that transports you to a bygone era. Its cobbled streets, historical buildings, and the surrounding landscape offer a unique glimpse into the medieval soul of Istria, making it a must-visit for anyone seeking to connect with the past’s echoes.

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