Vodnjan – Dignano:”During the Roman period the Istrian olive oil was considered among the best olive oils in the whole Empire“
If you enjoy architecture and history you will really enjoy walking on Vodnjan’s streets. There are Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings one close to the other. There are also many churches in the town.
There are several roads and directions that you can take to visit Vodnjan. I will try to show you the way I used.
Vodnjan is about 140 meters above sea level so when you drive from Smrikve towards Vodnjan you have the feeling that you are driving towards the hilltop. When you arrive almost in front of Vodnjan you will see a cross road and here take the road that goes straight forward.
On the right side of the road you will pass near the Chapel of St. Sunday from the 19th century. Continue to drive till the hilltop. The large building that you see on right side of the hilltop is the place where I had my dentist when I was a child.
Few meters after this building I would advise you to take the road that turns right and goes over the railroad. If you follow this road you will arrive to the Church of Our Lady “della Traversa” from the 13th century.
Traversa is an Italian word and means crosswise. It is likely that the origin of the name is linked with the fact that the church is located in a crosswise position in relation with the street.
In origin instead of the name “Traversa” it had in its name the word fountain because probably nearby the church there was a fountain.
As far as I know this building is used today by artists and other people as school for the people dedicated to the conservation works. It is quite a large building with an interesting gate towards the court yard and bells placed on the right side of the building if you stand in front of the main façade.
If you return towards the main road you will see a large parking area on your right side and you can leave your car there. Before you park the car on the other side of the street there is Vodnjanka restaurant that is considered one of the best Istrian’s food restaurants in Vodnjan. There you can taste various local specialities.
On the same side of the street where Vodnjanka is located, at the very end of the parking, there is a small Church of St. Cross from 1468. It is interesting that this was every time the starting point of Pula’s Bishops visits to Vodnjan. The Bishop used to arrive to the Church of St. Cross with a horse and in the church he used to change his clothes with the ceremony clothes and than he started the visit of the town.
If you follow the main road, that continues to Svetvincent and Zminj, for another twenty meters and turn sharply towards left you will enter the “Trgovacka street”. I did many times this street with the car and is interesting how the beginning of the street is very large and more you go towards the centre of the town more narrow the street become.
This street developed over the centuries and its architecture represent various periods. In the part where the street is large you will see many interesting Baroque façades with particular balconies. More you go towards the centre the style will turn into Gothic period with particular and lovely Gothic windows. Trogovacka is practically a mix of several centuries period tied in one street.
The translation of Croatian word “Trgovacka” in English would be Commercial or Trade street and the origin of the name is linked with the fact that on the ground floor the artisans used to have their small shops. Many centuries ago Trgovacka was probably like Paris’ Champs Elise. It is not a joke.
Several times when I was driving through Trgovacka street during the Christmas time the lights of the street made me think of the more famous street in Paris. It is likely that if the project Brijuni Rivijera develops in the future Vodnjan will have another opportunity to return Trgovacka in what it was centuries ago. People from the World will have interest to see, buy and learn how some things were made once upon a time.