4 Best Sights in Vodnjan, Istria

Chiavalon Olive Oil Mill and Tasting Room

Fodor's choice

Sandi Chiavalon was barely 13 when he planted his first olive trees and decided to become an olive oil producer. Less than two decades later, Chiavalon's organic extra-virgin olive oil was chosen among the 15 best olive oils in the world by the prestigious Flos Olei. A visit to the Chiavalon tasting room is well worth a detour; book online one day in advance to arrange the tasting and farm tour, some of which are accompanied by delicious Istrian fare like cheese, prosciutto, and sausages. Make sure to take or ship home their oils and homemade tomato sauce and jams.

Crkva Svetog Blaža

From the tourist office on the main square, stroll down Ulica Castello to Crkva Svetog Blaža, an 18th-century structure built in the style of architect Palladio that not only has the highest campanile in all of Istria but is also the unlikely home of more than 370 relics, such as the mummies or mummified body parts of six saints impressively preserved without embalming. Among the best preserved are St. Nicolosa Bursa and Leon Bembo the Blessed. Nicolosa, whose relatively elastic skin and overall postmortem presentability make her one of the best-preserved human bodies in Europe, was born in Koper (Istria) in the 15th century and was a nun in Venice and elsewhere; she's the one with the garland of flowers still on her head. Leon Bembo the Blessed was a 12th-century Venetian priest tortured in religious riots while ambassador to Syria. And then there is St. Sebastian, a Roman-officer-turned-Christian who was whipped and strangled around AD 288 in Rome after initially surviving torture by arrows. This famous saint's head, spinal column, neck muscles, and related parts are on display here. As for St. Barbara, from 3rd-century Nicomeda (in present-day Turkey), only her leg remains; she so disagreed with her father's pagan slave-keeping lifestyle that he personally killed her with a sword. Admittance to the mummy room, behind the main altar, includes an English-language recording that sums up the saints' lives and roads to mummy-hood. Call to make an appointment to see the collection.

Svetoga Roka 4, Vodnjan, 52215, Croatia
052-511–420
Sights Details
Rate Includes: €12, By appointment only. Closed Oct.–June

Kažun Park

A kažun is a traditional, dry-stone round structure or hut built in ancient times, traditionally used as a shelter for farmers and shepherds in remote fields. There are still more than 3,000 of these huts in the vicinity of Vodnjan. Kažun Park, an outdoor museum, demonstrates the four stages of kažun construction, from its foundation, walls, and roof to its final appearance. To many citizens of Vodnjan, the kažun is a part of their identity and serves as the pride of the people and the theme of their inexhaustible inspirations.

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Murals

Once a year, artists from around the world come to the ancient town of Vodnjan for the Boombarstick and Street Art Festival. They leave behind old stone walls and historic buildings covered with intriguing murals and creative graffiti designs. Art-loving travelers will enjoy wandering the tiny streets of Vodnjan on the hunt for the more than 45 painted murals.