Welcome to Rovinj – the Venice of Istria and one of the most romantic spots of Croatia! Rovinj is one of those places in Europe where you never feel bored or disappointed. The little coastal town is more than just picturesque. Rovinj’s raving beauty and architectural composition are inspiring and unique!
Rovinj is the most beloved town in Istria and probably one of the most photogenic places in Croatia. The whole old town is situated on a hilly peninsula bordered on three sides by the Adriatic Sea. From the seaport, you can enjoy the view over Rovinj’s colourful and pastel houses rising from the sea. On the top of the peninsula, you can also spot the majestic tower of St. Euphemia Church which is the highest point of its old town.
Probably the best time to walk up and down Rovinj’s narrow cobbled streets is during the sunset! The old town is mostly built with Venetian lucid limestone which gorgeously reflects the sunlight and shimmers with light at night. During the evening time, you can stroll through its curvy narrow streets full of art galleries or simply enjoy a glass of beer or wine in one of the numerous trendy bars.
Quick Facts About Rovinj
Rovinj is a city located on the western coast of the Istrian Peninsula and is one of the most visited destinations not only in Croatia but also on the Adriatic coast. The small town has around 14 000 inhabitants including Croats, Italians, Serbs, Albanians and Bosniaks and its area covers around 88 km². Rovinj archipelago has an overall 16 islands, many smaller islets and beautiful reefs and its shoreline is about 67 kilometres long.
Due to its beauty and Mediterranean climate (mild winters and warm summers) with an average annual temperature of 15°, Rovinj has become a leading tourist destination among Europeans and Americans. Therefore, the main source of income in the region is still tourism.
History of Rovinj
Rovinj is a town with a lot of history. Archaeological findings show that this region of Istria was inhabited even in the prehistoric period. The tribe who lived here during the Bronze and Iron Ages traded with the Greeks and Etruscans.
The town of Rovinj was mentioned for the first time by the name Castrum Rubini during the 7th century in the work “Cosmographia” in Ravenna, Italy. Some of the historians suggest that Rovinj was founded between the 3rd and 5th century AD.
Rovinj was also part of the Roman Empire. Back in the centuries, the town was known as Castrum Robini, and later it became Ruigno, Ruginio, and Ruvigno. The town was famous for its fisherman, farmers, artisans, merchants and sailors.
During the 12th century, the period of Venetian rule, Rovinj became part of Venice and its autonomy was very limited. Due to this fact, you can still see the Venetian lion decorating many buildings in the town.
Between the 16th and 19th Century Rovinj became the home to many refugees from Bosnia, Dalmatia, Greece and Albania who managed to escape the Turkish invasion. Its population grew very fast to 14 000 inhabitants in the 18th century. During that period, the sailors of Rovinj were well known for their skills and courage as they took part in the numerous battles between Venice and the Turks.
During the 19th century, Rovinj became part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The town grew and developed very fast, many factories and hospitals were built, and the culture was blooming. In two words – the Austro-Hungarian Empire was the best thing that could happen to Istria during that time (… compared to the destiny of all other Balkan countries).
Nowadays, Rovinj still benefits from Italian tourism and influence. During the summertime, huge fast boats and ferries from Venice bring daily tons of tourist to Istria.
Historic Centre Rovinj
The Old Town, which is 2 km long oval peninsula, is still the most beautiful area in Rovinj! Despite all new bars, shops and galleries, the historic centre of Rovinj has preserved its medieval charisma and original appearance. The Old Town is a great place if your searching for romantic spots or stunning photo motives! The historic centre of Rovinj is very small, but you can easily get lost within the dense labyrinth of picturesque cobblestone streets.
If you’re planing your next trip to Istria, you may also find my Ultimate Travel Guite to Pula useful!
What to Seet in The Historic Center of Rovinj
The city’s clock is located in the main square. The clock was built in the 17th century during the Venetian reign in Istria. Under the clock, you can still see the famous winged Lion of St. Mark, the symbol of Venice. Below the tower, for a few hundred years there was a one-cell prison for minor offenders.
The Balbi’s Arch
The Balbi’s arch is located near the main city square where the Porton della Pescheria used to be the main gate to Rovinj till 1678. The arch was built during the time of Mayor Daniel Balbi.
St. Euphemia Cathedral
The most visited place in Rovinj is the baroque Cathedral “St Euphemia” which was built by the Venetians during the 17th century. Its bell tower is a major landmark of Istria – it simply dominates the Rovinj sky. The church is 61 m high and if you get to the top on a clear day, you will enjoy a view over the Alps! Inside the church, there are works of art which date from the 15th and 16th centuries.
If you’re looking for the best Instagram pictures of Rovinj – the port is your place to be! The waterfront is always crowded, but you can still make some unforgettable photos of the Rovinj Old Town and St. Euphemia Cathedral.
During the 7th century, Rovinj was surrounded and protected by strong stone walls and towers. Rovinj had a total of 7 gates, only three of which you can still see nowadays: The Gate of St Benedict, The Portico and The Gate of the Holy Cross.
Antonio Gandusio Theatre
The Antonio Gandusio Theater was built in the late 19th century by Nicolo de Califfi. The theatre was named after the famous Italian actor and film comedians Antonio Gandusio, who was born in Rovinj.
During the 13th Century, the City Palace used to be a Praetorian Palace. Nowadays the Palace is the seat of the entire Rovinj’s administration.
Have you been to Istria? What is your favourite place there? Share your thoughts and recommendations in the comment section 🙂
Enjoy the day!