Piran is the Venetian jewel of Slovenia’s picturesque coastline. Though we’ve paid a flying visit here in an earlier postcard, this unspoilt historic town is certainly worth a closer look.
History of Piran
The earliest surviving written reference to Piran as a town dates from the 7th century A.D., at which time it was under Byzantine rule. Prior to this it had been settled sporadically by Romans and still earlier, by Illyrian Histri tribespeople (from which the region, Istria, takes its name).
Piran became part of the Holy Roman Empire in the 10th century A.D., and later fell under Venetian rule for a significant period (1283 to 1797). The influence of the Venetian Republic over the town’s architecture is still very much in evidence today.
Piran became part of the Austrian Empire in 1797 and remained in Austro-Hungarian hands (apart from a brief period of Napoleonic rule from 1806-1814) until the end of the First World War, when it was ceded to Italy. After the Second World War, Piran became part of Tito’s Yugoslavia, and has been part of independent Slovenia since 1991.
Parking in Piran
Due to its well-preserved historic architecture and narrowly-winding Italianate streets, Piran has become something of a museum town, and is extremely popular with tourists, especially during the summer months. Parking in the town itself is very limited and mostly reserved for residents. I therefore recommend parking in the large multi-storey car park at the edge of the town and either walking to the centre (10 minutes), or taking the free shuttle bus.
Architectural highlights of the Piran include Tartini Square, completed in 1894 and named after the celebrated Venetian violinist and composer Giuseppe Tartini who was born in Piran. The only surviving Venetian building in the square is a house dating from the 15th century. The remainder of the buildings belong to the Austro-Hungarian period. Interestingly, in Venetian times, the area now covered by the square was a dock for smaller boats visiting the port. Authorities decided to fill it in and convert it as it was constantly filling up with sewage. Looking at the pristine marble pavement of the square today, I am inclined to agree that this was a wise choice!
Dominating the Piran skyline is St George’s Parish Church, which is built atop a cliff forming the headland of the peninsula. This building dates to 1614, and has a free-standing bell tower which is a replica of that of St Mark’s in Venice. Much restoration and fortification work has been done to prevent the church from falling into disrepair (or even falling into the sea). Its precarious position is particularly apparent when viewed from the sea during a boat trip (see below). The church and its bell tower are open to the public, except during hours of religious observance.
Boat Trips from Piran
The best way to appreciate the Piran skyline is from the water. There are various boat trips available from the marina, including the ‘Subaquatic‘ which has underwater portholes from which you can view the sea bed. Depending on the weather, itineraries can include a trip to Strunjan where a submerged Roman road can be seen. There is also plenty of marine life on display in the clear waters around the bay. The onboard commentary will tell you more about this section of the coast and its history.
Where to Eat
In a seaside town such as Piran, sampling the local seafood is a must. I can highly recommend Fritolin: a small kitchen-canteen bar where the catch of the day is served up in a picturesque terrace at a reasonable price. Seafood doesn’t get much better than this…
And if you’re looking for a sweet treat, there are several tempting ice cream shops and patisseries dotted around Tartini Square, which should bring your visit to Piran to a delightful conclusion.
I hope you enjoyed today’s visit to Piran. Follow the tag ‘Postcards from Slovenia’ to make sure you don’t miss out on future posts. For more of my photos from Piran, visit my Instagram page @experimentsinfiction.
Hvala za obisk!