Motovun, Croatia – More than the Film Festival

Motovun is a small town located in the Istrian Peninsula. The town is situated on the top of a hill that looks over the beautiful Mirna River Valley. The town is very picturesque and it is becoming more known, as there is an international film festival held in the town in August, which continues to grow in popularity.

Motovun

Motovun

Motovun has amazing architecture, as inside the city walls there are many well-preserved architectural works. The town is one of the best-preserved town fortifications and within the city walls there is a monumental Romanesque house, which formed the passageway of the interior municipal gates. The palace in Motovun was constructed in the 12th century and then additions were made in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Located on the outer square new gates were built in the beginning of the 16th century with a tower that has characteristics of the Renaissance. On the other end of the square you can see the Renaissance-baroque loggia. In the main square of Motovun there is the parish church of St. Stephen and right beside the church there is a 13th century medieval belfry rising to the sky. There are many fascinating works of art within the church itself.

One of the main attractions in Motovun is the town itself, as taking a stroll through the narrow streets will take you back to medieval times. The views from the town to the valley below are breathtaking. There are 3 more churches of particular interest, which are the Madonna of the Servites (Madonna od Servita) 1584., St. John the Baptist and Our Lady of the Gate (sveti Ivan Krstitelj i BDM od Vratiju) 1521, and St. Anthony of Padua (16th century, renovated in 1855). You can also check out the home of where legendary racecar driver Mario Andretti was born.

Outside Motovun Cafe & Restaurant

Outside Motovun Cafe & Restaurant

There are many small restaurants in the town and they are well known for their truffles. In the tiny town of Livade, which is right across from the bottom of the hill that Motovun is situated, there is a truffle fair every October. In Livade there is a truffle, wine and cheese shop, which has a replica of the biggest truffle in the world, found in the area, according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

One of the highlights of Motovun is the film festival that is held every August. The festival highlights independent film from across the globe. The Festival is a very informal one, as in there is no protocol, no VIP lounges, and no places that are open to some and restricted for others. The festival is one week long party with a very laid back atmosphere. To learn more about the festival you can visit: http://www.motovunfilmfestival.com/.

Near Motovun is the Istarske Toplice, which is an oak forest (Motovuner forest) located around 10 km from Motovun and on the way towards the city of Buzet. The Forest encloses the most well known therapeutic bath in Istria (Istarske Toplice).

There are private accommodations in Motovun and one very nice hotel, which is the Hotel Kastel . Accommodation can be sparse during the film festival, but you can find places to stay in the surrounding cities of Buzet and Pazin.

Update 27/04/2009 by Karen Bryan

I stayed at Hotel Kastel for 2 nights, 22- 24 April 2009 during a bloggers press trip to Istria. I was in a room with a balcony overlooking the surrounding countryside and a large tree in the village square.

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