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Motovun: Istria’s Timeless Medieval Gem

Nestled in the northern part of Istria, high above the picturesque valley of the River Mirna, lies Motovun. It is an enchanting medieval town renowned as one of the quintessential symbols of Istria‘s interior. This captivating hilltop settlement boasts a landscape dominated by a Romanesque-Gothic belfry, adorned with a distinctive toothed crown from the 13th century, standing proudly beside the 17th-century Parish Church of St. Stjepan. 

The heart of the town unfolds around a central square where the Romanesque communal palace takes center stage—an architectural masterpiece and the largest profane building of its kind in Istria during that era. The town’s historical fabric is further enriched by a myriad of other splendid edifices. 

Motovun 1

Motovun has long been a coveted and beloved destination for travelers, and it even hosts the elegant Hotel Kaštel, a former palace of the illustrious Polesini family.  

A Little Bit About its Enchanting History

Perched atop a conical hill with a flat plateau, Motovun’s urban layout draws its origins from a prehistoric fortress. Historical records of its inhabitants trace back to ancient times, notably from the late 2nd and early 3rd centuries, as evidenced by inscriptions alongside Venetian heraldry and the portrayal of Leonidas on the ground floor of the Renaissance tower.


The town also holds significance as a historical seat for local noble families, especially those predating the Venetian era, such as the Barbo and Polesini clans. Their properties, like the Church of St. Nikole near Rakotul, bear witness to artistic excellence through wall paintings adorned with a tapestry of Glagolitic, Latin, dialectal, and other graffiti. 


Geological revelations add an intriguing dimension to the region’s history, with findings suggesting that during the Middle Ages, seawater reached the Motovun forest during high tides, concealed beneath a four-meter layer of white earth. The construction of a navigable channel to Motovun during the reign of Bishop Tomasini indicates the significance of this area’s natural resources. Folk tales, literary works, and art pieces, such as G. d’Annunzio’s and Vladimir Nazor’s “Veli Jože,” immortalize the giants who, according to oral tradition, built Istrian castles. Notably, Tito’s 1946 gift to Motovun, sculpted by Vanja Radauš, features Nazor’s portrait. 

The Motovun forest, rich in timber, was highly sought after by both the local population and the Republic of Venice for its timber, essential for the construction of the Venetian fleet—a testament to the enduring allure of Motovun through the annals of history. 

Motovun's Timeless Allure: A Magnet for Discerning Travelers

Motovun’s well-preserved medieval architecture, complete with ancient stone walls and winding cobblestone streets, transports visitors back in time. Exploring the town feels like stepping into a fairytale. 

The hilltop location of Motovun offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The vistas of rolling vineyards, lush forests, and the Mirna River valley are simply mesmerizing.

The town’s rich cultural heritage is evident in its historic buildings, including the Romanesque-Gothic belfry and the Romanesque communal palace. There are also charming churches, quaint squares, and well-preserved town gates to explore. 


Motovun is renowned for its truffles, and the town hosts an annual Truffle Days festival where visitors can savor the exquisite flavors of this delicacy. Additionally, the region is known for its top-quality wines and olive oils. 

Motovun was home to the Motovun Film Festival, a prominent cultural event that attracts cinephiles and film enthusiasts. The festival showcases independent and international films in a unique and charming setting. The Motovun Film Festival, known for attracting some of the film industry’s foremost figures, stands as a pivotal cultural institution in Croatia. Regrettably, this year, the festival has bid adieu to its traditional Motovun location and relocated to the enchanting Petehovac hill in Gorski Kotar. Despite the change in scenery, film enthusiasts and festival-goers will still have the opportunity to partake in this renowned event, albeit at a brand-new destination. 

Motovun Streets

The surrounding countryside offers ample opportunities for outdoor activities such as hiking and cycling. The Motovun forest, with its enchanting atmosphere, is a great place for nature lovers to explore.

Visitors to Motovun often praise the warm and welcoming hospitality of the locals. It’s a place where you can truly immerse yourself in the Istrian way of life. 


The town’s walls serve as a canvas for Croatian artists, adding a touch of creativity and vibrancy to its streets.

In essence, Motovun’s allure lies in its ability to offer a perfect blend of history, culture, natural beauty, and culinary delights. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, a nature lover, or simply seeking a tranquil escape, Motovun has something special to offer, making it a must-visit destination in Istria.  

Make Unforgettable Memories in Motovun

Visiting Motovun is like stepping into a time capsule, where history gracefully intertwines with the charms of the present. The medieval streets and historic buildings whisper tales of bygone eras, while the alluring aroma of truffles tantalizes the senses, inviting you to savor the region’s culinary treasures. Nature enthusiasts find solace in the tranquil Motovun forest, offering picturesque walks through Istria’s lush countryside. 

As you explore this enchanting town and its surroundings, you’ll discover that Motovun is not just a destination. It’s an immersive journey through the rich tapestry of Croatian Istria, where history, gastronomy, and the beauty of nature come together to create unforgettable memories. You can explore it for yourself NOW if you BOOK your STAY

Your CTC Team

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