Piran is the best preserved urban cultural monument in Slovenian Istria. A small town on the Adriatic Sea with an architecture indelibly marked by the dominion of the Serenissima, so much so that it deserves the nickname of “little Venice of Slovenia”. Let’s find out in this guide what to do and what to see in Piran.
Visit Piran: tourist guide
Sea, architecture and the Middle Ages. These are the main elements that make it Piran one of the most famous tourist centers ofSlovenian Istria. The town, a short distance from the border between Slovenia and Italy and between Slovenia and Croatia, is picturesquely set on a small peninsula called Punta Madonna and bathed by the waters of the Adriatic Sea. Piran is characterized by a very Venetian look with buildings overlooking the water, alleys, alleys and marinas.
The typical Venetian characteristics are also found in the palaces, in their decorations and architecture as well as in the mighty walls that embrace the city. In Piran there is a small one community of Italians autochthonous, represented mostly by the children and grandchildren of those who did not take part in theexodus occurred after the Second World War. However, Italian is the official language, together with Slovenian, and is commonly used.
Piran: the history
There is no certain information about the foundation of Piran even if it seems that it arose during the final phase of theRoman Empire as a refuge for refugees Aquileians fleeing the danger of the devastating Huns. During the Byzantine period the first groups of Slavs also settled here. In the Middle AgesPiran began to gravitate into the orbit of the Republic of Venice, then in full development. Political unification took place in 1283 and relations with the Serenissima ended only in 1797. For Venice, Piran was of primary importance, not only because it served as a defence against attacks by pirates and other maritime republics, but also for its salt flats.
In fact, an intense developed in Piran salt trade, determining the economic prosperity of the area. After the fall of Venice in 1797 and the passage into the hands of Austria of the Habsburgs, Piran experienced a period of decline and decline. At the beginning ofnineteenth century the activity of the salt pans returned to its ancient splendor and Piran became a port substitute of Trieste. Annexed to Italy after the First World War, the city became part of the Slovenian territory with the 1954 London Memorandum pact.exodus of the Italians autochthonous, supplanted by the Slovenes, completely transforming the community and cultural identity of Piran.
How to get to Piran
Located a few kilometers from the Italian border, per get to Piran there are many possibilities. By car the fastest way to reach Piran is via the connecting motorway Trieste in Ljubljana. Alternatively, you can take state and regional roads, such as the H5 from Trieste.
In airplane the nearest tourist airport is that of Portoroz just 7 km away. Or you can buy the flight to Triestewhich is the closest international airport.
Piran: attractions and places of interest
What to see in Piran during a visit: attractions are many and range from medieval heart of the town to the palaces that testify to the dominion of the Serenissima, from natural paths to cultural itineraries. Piran is rich in hidden cornersto be discovered slowly: a walk along the promenade and in the internal alleys, a visit to churches, salt shops or museums.
After this quick introduction, let’s now find out more closely what to see in Piran, the unmissable attractions and places of interest.
Giuseppe Tartini Square and Town Hall – Piran
Tartini square is the heart of Piran and is dedicated to the musician Giuseppe Tartini, a native of the Istrian city and lived in the eighteenth century. Its elliptical shape is open on one side with an outlet directly onto the sea. Along its perimeter are the palaces most fascinating of the center: the town hall, the small church of San Pietro, the baroque housethe Venetian house which represents one of the few surviving Gothic-Venetian style buildings, the birthplace of Giuseppe Tartini and the praetorian palace of the fourteenth century. In the center of the square is the monument to Giuseppe Tartini from 1892 while at the entrance there are the flagpoles in Istrian stone from the 15th century.
The Town Hall building it was built on the site of the old town hall dated to the XII century, wanted by the Republic of Venice in Roman-Gothic style. The current building was instead built in 1877 in Neo-Renaissance style. A Marcian lion makes a fine show of itself on the facade. It was originally located in the previous Venetian building. The hall of the municipal council preserves the painting of the “Madonna with Child and Saints among Piranese notables” which is attributed to Tintoretto or at his school.
Old Town and Primo Maggio Square – Piran
The Old Town it extends mainly on the strip of land called Capo Madonna. Just 300 meters from the cape is the deepest point of the Slovenian sea with its 38 meters of depth. The center of Piran is a succession of paved alleys stone and historic buildings, dating back to Venetian Middle Ages but also to the period of the more recent Austrian domination. Here you will find local craft shops and magnificent views. After exploring the alleys, don’t miss a walk on the seafront up to the characteristic port.
Piazza Primo Maggio it was once the central and main square of Piran. Today redeveloped, it presents a large one tank for the collection of rainwater. It was built after the severe drought that occurred in 1776. Together with the cistern a conveying system of the waters starting from the roofs of the beautiful baroque palaces overlooking the square.
Medieval walls and Punta district – Piran
In ancient times the walls of Piran they included three circles. The first was built in VII century and is visible in the old part of the town. With the expansion of the city during the Venetian rule of XII centurythe second walls were built and in the last phase of growth, between 1470 and 1538, the third was built, which today is almost completely intact and preserves the tower. There are seven access doors that we can still admire.
The Punta district it is, together with Marciana, one of the two historic districts of the city, divided by the port and by the space that was formerly used as a mandrake. As its name indicates, it occupies the end of the peninsula which extends towards the sea and there is a large number of monuments and historic buildings. Among these, the Bell tower, almost 50 meters high. It was built following the model of the bell tower of San Marco in Venice. The tower can be visited and you can climb it to admire a magnificent view of the city, the sea and the coast.
Churches – Piran
Piran is characterized by a large number of churches and ecclesiastical buildings. The most important is certainly the cathedral of San Giorgio which, with its white facades, stands out against the blue of the sea and dominates the town. The cathedral was built on an ancient Roman military castrum but we do not know when its foundation dates back. Its first mention in written sources is from 11th century. Originally in the Romanesque style, the church was remodeled in Gothic style in the fourteenth century. Another important restoration took place in 1592 and ended in 1637, assuming those baroque forms which it still retains today.
There church of San Francesco it is located in calle Ospedale and was founded in the Gothic style by Friars Minor before 1300. Today the church has one aspect baroque and preserves the tomb of Giuseppe Tartini. The annex convent of the Friars Minor, who still live here, boasts a rich collection of musical literature while the ancient library houses a collection of 15th century books. The cloister it is the environment with the best acoustics in the whole of Slovenia.
Museums and Aquarium – Piran
There are numerous art galleries and museums in Piran. Among them we mention the Museum of the Sea which exhibits models of Gruber boats, galleys and large sailing ships, tools for navigation, seafaring uniforms and documents the life of the salt workers and the activity of the salt mines. The Magic World of Shells Museumunique of its kind, exhibits over 3,000 specimens of shells and snails belonging to all the seas of the world.
The Museum of Underwater Activities allows you to admire the instruments and suits of the first divers and submariners and reconstructions of the underwater world. L’Piran Aquarium it hosts in its tanks over 140 species of fish and marine organisms of the North Adriatic, including sharks, sponges, starfish and dragonflies.
Excursions and Walks – Piran
Between excursions to Piran do not miss a visit to the Sečovlje Salina Nature Park, the largest wet site on the coast. Here the salt has been extracted with the same method for 700 years. The area is home to many species of birds, halophyte fields and more than 100 abandoned salt flats all to be explored. Between trails to go on foot we recommend the ring around Piran, about 9 km, which will lead you to discover its landscape beauties.
The path between Piran and Fiesso winds along the coast with magnificent views over Piran Bay and the Italian coast. The path is not very demanding, well marked and ends in beautiful bay of the seaside resort of Fiesso, characterized by the shade of pine forests, lots of greenery and extraordinarily blue waters.