Istra - region of culture
Throughout its extremely rich history, Istria has been the meeting place of many nations and their cultures. The Liburni, the Histri, the Greeks, the Celts, the Romans, the Ostrogoths, the Byzantines, the Langobards, the Croats, the Franks, the Venetians, the Austrians, the Italians, the SloveniansÂ…with their presence, they left the traces that today's inhabitants of Istria try to preserve, ennoble, and update.
Rich ancient historic sites (Šandalja, Romuald's cave...) witnessing the colonization of the first inhabitants, Histri's hill-forts from the Bronze Age (Nesactium, Monkodonja...); ancient Roman monuments (the Amphitheatre Arena, the Sergi Arch, the Augustus' Temple, remnants of numerous Roman villas...); the complex of the Euphrasiana Basilica in Poreč from the 6th century listed on the UNESCO's list of protected cultural heritage; other valuable sacral heritage such as the little medieval churches with fresco paintings (St. Barnabus in Vižinada, St. Foška in Batvači, St. Martin in Lovreč, St. Margaret near Vodnjan), and the especially famous gem of the medieval mural painting Dance Macabre in the little church of St. Mary on Škrilinah near Beram, the largest Istrian church St. Blaise in Vodnjan with the collection of sacral art disposing of 730 works and objects from the period between the 5th and the 19th century and preserved mummified bodies of several saints; remnants of Glagolitic influence in the medieval art and literacy; medieval castles and forts in Dvigrad, Svetvinčenat, Pazin, Pula, Momjan, Pietrapelosa near Buzeta; historic town nucleus of the little towns in the Istrian interior and on the coast; numerous Austrian fortifications from the 19th century in the vicinity of Pula, Italian architecture between the two World Wars with the mining settlement Raša - a separate zoning unit; recognizable traditional rural architecture with dry walls and "kažuni"- unique dry-wall stone houses in the nature with circular form, are only a part of the rich cultural heritage and contours of the remnants of the unique history of "Terra Magica" (Magic Land), as Istria is frequently called by many people.
Diversity, size, and richness of findings are a precondition for many times successfully proven work of a whole series of institutions. Archaeology Museum of Istria Pula, History Museum of Istria Pula, Ethnography Museum of Istria Pazin, Native Museums in Umag, Poreč, Rovinj, Labin, Buzet, and Pazin in collaboration with the Conservation Office - Administration for the Protection of Cultural Heritage, with their professional and dedicated work preserved these unique monuments and civilisation richness for future generations.
Through the preservation of traditional values also witnessing the multi-culturality and tolerance of this area and its inhabitants, who kept coming and going for centuries leaving traces behind, manifestations that are also gatherings preserving the local idiom (Manifestation of Folk Music and Dances of Istria, encounters of accordion players on two-tone accordions, traditional Istrian instruments bajs (Istrian double-bass), sopile (Istrian long flute) and mih (goat skin bagpipes), folklore encounters...), is the work of many associations of enthusiasts with unlimited love for their homeland. Special feature of the Istrian folk tradition is the characteristic way of singing and playing music known as the five-tone Istrian scale, as well as numerous traditional Istrian dialects still in use.
Tradition is also the inspiration for numerous artists who remember it, research it, and shape it in a contemporary manner. Their music, written words, figurative and stage expression, witness that homeland values can be and still are universal and lasting, that today's artist can very successfully identify with his/her roots, even at the age of omnipresent globalisation and the creation of new and unique cultural values. This is the orientation of the exhibiting activity of numerous galleries whose projects helped launch the careers of numerous figurative artists whose exhibitions and awards in Croatia and abroad keep confirming the significance of paintings, sculptures, installations, and performance in Istria and for Istria. Every summer, there is the well-known art exhibition held in the open air on the Rovinj's street Grisia.
Literary manifestations in the memory of Mate Balota, Anton Šoljan and Fulvio Tomizza, Days of Essays in Pula, Encounter of Editors "Travel to the Centre of the Earth" in Pazin, Manifestation of the Chakavian poetry in Žminj, "Verses on the Well" in Vižinada, and the International Contest for Dialect Poetry Histria in Grožnjan, awards for literary and translation works about Istria, creation of the Istrian Encyclopaedia, numerous scientific gatherings, and the extremely rich editing activity complete the rich palette of cultural creation and encounters in Istria.
World renowned cultural manifestations such as the festival Istraetnojazz, Book Fair in Pula, the international organ festival Organum Histriae, the Festival of Dance and Non-Verbal Theatre in Svetvinčenat, the Mediterranean Sculpture Symposium in Labin, international theatre festivals PUF and MKMF in Pula and the Golden Lion in Umag, Festival of Early Music in Dvigrad. There are regular concerts in the Euphrasiana in Poreč, encounters of choirs "Our Song is Nice", Mundial photofestival in Rovinj, the Encounter of Accordion Players in Pula, Analles in Poreč and many other cultural events.
Istria is the host of two most significant film festivals in the country, Motovun Film Festival held on Motovun's squares and streets, medieval fortified little town on the hill near the River Mirna, and Pula Film Festival at the Roman Amphitheatre (Arena), the largest stage in the open air. Arena is also the site of numerous concerts of the most popular world classic and pop music stars such as Sting, Zucchero, James Brown, Placido Domingo and others. All these manifestations are an excellent reason to visit Istria and to enjoy in its culture.
The wish of the Istrian Region is to keep developing and changing the culture in Istria thus confirming that we are a region of culture, proudly remembering Zvane Črnja, Andrea Antica di Montona, Luigi Dallapicola, Slavko Zlatić, Fulvio Tomizza, Mate Balota, Antonio Smareglia, Matija Vlačić Ilirik, Carlotta Grisi, Giusepina MartinuzziÂ… and all those mentioned and not mentioned who created culture and knowledge, as well as those whose current artistic, scientific, and cultural work creates an atmosphere of tolerance, understanding, and accepting diversity so needed to our region and to everybody in the world.