Up in the hills of Istria lies the tiny artistsâ€™ colony of Groznjan. It makes for a great day trip and is a must-see when in Istria. Getting to the town takes a lot of commitment: the road leading up to the town gate is unpaved, narrow, incredibly uncomfortable, and at times even scary. But once you reach the town, you realize it was all worth the effort.
View of Groznjan by buergi
Groznjan wears its medieval look well. Crooked cobblestone streets veer off in a dozen directions, with each street holding a string of lopsided art galleries, art studios, workshops and music studios and schools. The smell of fresh paint and turpentine add zing to the air, and as the strains of live music flood the lanes, you canâ€™t help but envy the people who spend their lives here. If you are an art lover, indulge in hours of gallery hopping. This is also a great place to pick up some authentic Croatian souvenirs.
Like every other town in Croatia, Groznjan too has a well preserved past. Before reinventing itself as an art hub, the town served as a seat of Venetian power in the region. Influences and shadows of the time can be seen along the fortified town wall, the town gate, and loggia even today.
As the glory days drew to an end, Groznjan lost its sheen and colour and quietly slipped into oblivion. It was practically a ghost town when the first artists arrived in 1965. Since then the town has risen to prominence. International and local artists and performers flock to the town to share their skill. Students gather to learn and tourists come to watch in awe.
Groznjan souvenirs by casalingaravival
In addition to the arts, Groznjan is a wonderful place to sample some local delicacies: my recommendation is the seafood pasta with truffles and house wine.
More Tips for Things to Do in Croatia
We’ve lots more tips on what to do in Croatia on Europe a la Carte.