(Edited November 2018)
Poreč, Croatia’s very own Little Venice. Almost as beautiful as her big sister, but definitely as overcrowded.
|No, this is not Venice – non e Venezia.|
According to my guidebook, Poreč is one of ten highlights in Croatia. Well, I disagree (this is what you get from these notorious ten-best-this-five-thousand-best-that-lists), however since it’s only a bit over an hour from Rijeka, it’s definitely worth a day trip.
Poreč could be just wonderful – it is like a small sample of Venice, and actually, Parenzo, which is its Italian name, was the first Istrian city that chose to become part of the Republic of Venice in 1267 – and this lasted for more than five centuries. Only in 1947 the city was occupied by Yugoslavia and got its Croatian name.
|Zuccato Palace – the Venetian heritage can hardly be denied.|
Already in the 19th century, it has been a touristy place. But today, there are a couple of very, very big hotels, and every private home that can spare a room is renting an Apartman.
While the beach – which according to international standards does not qualify as such – is not overrun, the narrow alleys in the historic center are packed to the rim.
Like in many places in Croatia, the beach are big rocks. But since there are so many tourists, the big hotels probably thought they make things better by flattening it to some kind of promenade. This might be better for their guests who are lazying on beach chairs. People who do not stay at these places are now lying like on a kitchen floor. Unless you use one of their chairs – for free until they address you, then you pay something between 30 and 40 Kuna.
|There are certainly more comfortable beaches in this world, but the water is just amazingly clean – and the view’s not too bad, either.|
So yes, you can spend a day or two on the kitchen floor next to the wonderfully clean and clear water – but there are far better places in Croatia to do so, I’ll get to them in the following chapters.
However, visiting the historic part built on a promontory is a nice day trip.
|Beautiful mosaic on top of the Basilica’s entrance.|
Getting to the most iconic building, the Euphrasian Basilica with the breathtaking mosaics, you just turn right as you get to the center and walk on the coastal promenade.
|I guess it won’t surprise you that the Basilica has made it to the UNESCO World Heritag List!?|
The Basilica was built in the mid of the 6th century in Byzantine style and is beautifully adorned with tiles, mosaics, and friezes.
The basilica can be visited July and August from 9 a. m. to 9 p. m. and September till June rom 9 a. m. to 6 p. m.
The narrow streets and alleys around the Basilica are quite charming with many small wineries and shops selling local handicraft.
|Taverns just like in Italy. Many local people are actually bi-lingual, and the street signs are written in Croatian as well as in Italian.|
As you keep on walking around the peninsula, you’ll pass the Park Jurja Dobrile, some posh restaurants, and big hotels before you get to the yacht harbor. From here you can actually take a trip to the real Venice by catamaran. But what’s the point? If I want Venice, I go to Italy. I wanted Croatia, so I turned my back and also left into ulica Cardo Maximus.
|Why would anyone want to sail away from a place like this? Poreč’s yacht harbor at sunset.|
Just ignore that everything is on display to attract tourists. Enjoy the beautiful buildings, turn left into ulica Decumanus to admire the Romanesque House from the 13th century: On the ground floor there is a gallery. The first floor can be accessed by the external stone staircase. The upper floors are housing the Ethnographic Heritage Collection.
|The Romanesque House, one of Poreč’s main landmarks.|
Keep on walking down on ulica Decumanus, pass a couple of pasta and pizza restaurants and you’ll get to the cradle of it all, the Roman Forum with the remains of the Mars temple and the Neptun temple. Open 24/7, no entrance fee, perfect photo spot.
|A Baroque Palazzo – the perfect venue for a city museum.|
While these are the most prominent buildings, when it comes to breathtaking architecture, there is so much more to see. As you walk back ulica Decumanus, don’t miss the Museo Civico di Parenzo, the city museum. It is located in a Baroque palazzo and certainly interesting if you want to dig deeper in Poreč’s history.
Otherwise, it’s all about walking and awing and being amazed by how much beauty fits into such a small spot.
|Lady of Angels church from 1770. The Baroque structure was built on the remains of a former Romanesque church.|
Best place to sleep:
If you absolutely want to stay in Poreč, do yourself a favor and don’t stay at the historic center – unless you are looking for lots of noisy company 24/7.
I stayed at Apartments Oliva and had a bedroom with a kitchenette and a small bathroom. To the next big supermarket and a drugstore, it’s three minutes walk, to the un-beachy beach five, and to the historic city center 10 minutes.
|View from Apartman Oliva – at the end of the rainbow is not a pot of gold but a beach; fine with me.|
Even walking to the bus station was possible – with a suitcase on wheels, but as a matter of fact, the owner had picked me up on arrival and brought me to the apartman.
Best place to eat:
|A very special place to dine.|
The food is good, the place is better: Dining at the Peterokutna Kula, the pentagonal tower, is an extraordinary experience mainly for the location and the atmosphere.
You are seated at a medieval – truly medieval, not this fake stuff you get at these amusement thingies – fortified tower – or, if you wish so, on a rooftop terrace overlooking all of Poreč – who cares that the food is a tad bit overpriced.
Actually, all the restaurants in Poreč are.
Do you want to read about all the other beautiful places I’ve visited in Croatia?
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