Tuesday 10 December 2013

Exploring Oprtalj

One of the things I love about Istria is its varied landscapes: its picturesque seaside towns, spectacular islands, and breath-taking expanses of undulating hills stretching out for as far as the eye can see. But it's the landscape of central Istria that I love best: the rolling hills topped with scenic old villages. I love to explore these old villages, many of which are like ghost-towns of times past… 

One of these hilltop towns where time has stopped is Oprtalj (Portole is its Italian name). 

The drive up winds through pine forests before reaching a plateau at 378 metres from where there are magnificent views of the neighbouring hilltop town of Motovun, which is better known by tourists.

Walking through Oprtalj's cobble-stoned streets and passing under its ruined stone archways, I try to imagine what life was like here in the town’s glory days... 

When were its glory days? When it was a hill fort settlement during the Roman period? Or was it in the 16th century when this was part of the Venetian Republic? Venice has indeed left many marks: the handsome Venetian loggia at the town’s entrance and a statue of the Lion of St. Mark, along with many architectural details which hint at its Venetian past.

Through an archway, the Venetian-style 'loggia'.

Inside the loggia we find the Lion of St. Mark. This is where an antiques market takes place on the second Sunday of each month. 

There are a few cafés, restaurants and shops here and the village seems to be going through a slow revival, but most of its old houses and buildings are in a neglected state.

The last time I was here was about eight years ago... and I had imagined Orptalj would be in a more advanced state of reconstruction. But its charm is intact and this remains one of my favourite villages in Istria. Our next stop was another central Istrian gem: Završje, which will be the topic of a future post.

I leave you with this image of a boat perched on the edge of the village!

1 comment:

  1. Such a charming place! Except when we had to push the pram up that hill with the wind pushing us backwards :)


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