Sadly we are leaving Rovinj today. We have really enjoyed our stay in this picturesque little town. The people of Istria have been so friendly, as we made our way around the major tourist attractions, as well as off the beaten track villages. We thought we may have struggled in Croatia not knowing the local language, however, there is always someone available who can speak English and is happy to interpret.
With the weather not looking too good for Zadar today, on the recommendation of our hosts, we take a small detour via the medieval walled city of Motovun.
Motovun is a village in central Istria, which has a permanent population of 531, 191 of whom use Italian as their mother language. The town grew up on the site of an ancient city called Castellieri, and is situated on a hill 270 metres above sea level. From 1278, it was taken over by Venice and surrounded by solid walls which are still intact today, and used as a walkway with unique views across the four corners of Istria.
We arrived early enough in Motovun to be allowed to drive up the hill and park just below
the town walls. Later visitors were required to park at the foot of the mountain and take a bus shuttle up to the town. We walked around the walls and through the town, took some photos and decided to keep driving to Zadar. We did sample some tasty local plums from a roadside vendor in the village, which sustained us on our drive to Zadar.
Driving along the coast of Croatia we encountered many long road tunnels, some of which are kilometres in length. One particular tunnel was so long that we entered it in bright sunshine, and exited the tunnel in misty rain. On our drive we literally experienced four seasons in one day.
When we reached Zadar, late afternoon, we checked into our very modern apartment close to the Old City. After a quick unpack, we headed for the Old City to check out some key attractions.
Zadar is the oldest continuously inhabited city on Croatia. It traces it’s origins back to the 4th century BC, founding as a settlement of the Illyrian tribe of Liburnians, and known as Lader. In 59 BC it was renamed Ladera by the Romans. It was during the Roman
rule that Zadar acquired the characteristics of a traditional ancient Roman city, with a regular road network, a public square or Forum, and an elevated Capitolium with a temple.
The Old City is very clean and beautifully maintained, with the streets being paved with the polished white stone from the many feet that have walked it’s streets and alleys. We walked around the well preserved Roman monuments and temples, and finished up down by the water at the Sea Organ and the Sun Salutation.
The Sea Organ is an architectural sound art object, which plays music by way of sea waves washing into tubes located under a set of large marble steps. It is very peaceful to watch the sun set over Zadar and listen to the “pan pipes” of the Sea Organ.
Immediately behind the Sea Organ is the Sun Salutation, a 22 metre wide circle set into the pavement and filled with 300 muti-layered glass plates that collect the sun’s energy during the day. From sunset to sunrise, it produces a trippy light show, as well as collecting enough energy to power the entire harbourfront lighting system.