Vodnjan, Croatia – the amazing street art town in Istria

Medieval atria, narrow cobbled streets, old stone houses remembering the past centuries… And between them, in the nooks and crannies of the buildings: murals, graffiti, street art! This combination is like the clash of two completely different worlds. That’s how it is in Vodnjan. A small Croatian town just 12 km from Pula, Istria. This place surprises everyone who finds it.

The green big mural that depicts the music band 'Witches in the wall', Vodnjan, Istria

The town of Vodnjan is a little-known capital of Croatian street art

A narrow winding street and a stone old house in the town of Vodnjan, Istria, Croatia

In Vodnjan there are many winding streets with old stone houses

Vodnjan, a small town in Istria that will surprise everyone

Have you ever heard of Vodnjan before? I do not. In a brochure found in the tourist information in Rovinj, I read only about kažuns, round dry stone shelters used once by shepherds in Istria. A lot of these unusual huts are in the area of Vodnjan. I did not know anything about the town, however.

On the way to Kamenjak, we stopped for a moment in Vodnjan to look around. After all, there is nothing more exciting about traveling than exploring the unknown. I really like this feeling when I have no idea what to expect. It’s nice to sometimes give yourself a chance to be surprised. That’s how it was when I went for a walk along the winding streets of Vodnjan.

I was walking around admiring old stone buildings and suddenly what? I stopped staring at the huge colorful mural that has just emerged from around the corner. Croatian street art? In over a thousand years old sleepy Istrian town? A strange combination.

Old stone houses and narrow winding street in Vodnjan, Croatia

Vodnjan was already mentioned in history over 1000 years ago so it is a really old town

A narrow stone street in the old city of Vodnjan, Istria, Croatia

If only these walls could speak, they would certainly have many interesting stories to tell

A large colorful mural in the heart of the old town of Vodnjan, Croatia

A large colorful mural in the heart of the old town of Vodnjan, Croatia

Colorful large mural on the wall of a stone building in the old city of Vodnjan, Istria, Croatia

Vodnjan is an extraordinary combination of history and modern art

An interesting mural in the inner courtyard in Vodnjan, Istria, Croatia

Some of the murals are hidden in the courtyards

The capital of Croatian street art

Intrigued, I delve into the maze of narrow streets, discovering more and more of these murals. I looked at it with increasing curiosity and suddenly thought to myself: this city is like an open-air art gallery!

I admit that before I was not a great enthusiast of street art. I liked some of the murals in my hometown, but that’s all. Being in Vodnjan, however, I completely changed the approach to this. Perhaps it was because of the amazing, almost unreal atmosphere of this sleepy town in Istria, and maybe it was something else… I have no idea, but suddenly I felt excited as if I found a real treasure. These murals completely absorbed me.

When I found tourist information in Vodnjan and got brochures about the town, I learned that these intriguing murals were created during the Boombarstick and Street Art Festival. Once a year, this event attracts to Vodnjan artists from around the world who paint on the facades of buildings. This combination of a historic town and modern art is really amazing!

Street art in the town of Vodnjan, Istria, Croatia

Walking around Vodnjan, it’s worth getting lost in the winding streets to discover interesting street art

Some murals are really meaningful and interesting

A cheerful colorful mural in Vodnjan, the Croatian city of street art

Others make the gray nooks of Vodnjan look like fairytale places

Street art in the Istrian city of Vodnjan, Croatia

In Vodnjan street art is literally everywhere so keep your eyes wide open when you are walking around the town

Amazing Croatian street art in the town of Vodnjan, Istria

A walk around Vodnjan is like visiting an open-air art gallery

Mummies in Croatia? The longest street in Istria? It’s in Vodnjan!

This is not all I learned about Vodnjan. This city turned out to be really interesting. Did you know, for example, that you can see real mummies in Croatia? This is not a joke. The Parish Church of St. Blaise houses the collection of 370 relics and the remnants of 250 saints. Another interesting fact about this church is that it has the highest bell tower in Istria which measures 62 m.

Do you want more fun facts? In Vodnjan there is the longest street in Istria. Trgovačka Street is over 1 km long and has over 200 house numbers. What’s more, in the old town of Vodnjan you can also find the narrowest and shortest street in Istria called Stari Grad. This street was an inspiration for many stories and legends.

Trgovačka Street in Vodnjan, the longest street in Istria, Croatia

Trgovačka Street in Vodnjan is the longest street in Istria, Croatia

A quiet non-tourist town of Vodnjan, Istria, Croatia

Vodnjan is a quiet and peaceful town, away from the hustle and bustle of tourist resorts

Old stone house in Vodnjan, Istria, Croatia

The old stone houses in Vodnjan are real witnesses of the time

Vodnjan, an authentic and non-tourist small town in Istria

Vodnjan in Istria is one of those places that are not destroyed by tourism and have kept their authenticity

As you can see sometimes it is worth to put down the map and move away from the beaten paths to discover something completely new and unusual. In my opinion, such trips are the most exciting and I am really happy when I travel this way. And you? Do you like to have everything planned or do you prefer to act spontaneously?

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  25 comments for “Vodnjan, Croatia – the amazing street art town in Istria

  1. Jim
    January 18, 2019 at 3:33 pm

    Street art in a 1,000+-year-old Istrian town is incredible. But it seems to becoming the norm all over the world, almost everywhere I travel.

    • January 18, 2019 at 4:01 pm

      True, there is now a real boom on street art everywhere. However, some murals are very interesting. Sometimes such a picture on the wall of the building can change the gray area and make it more friendly and colorful. However, until now I used to watch murals in post-industrial cities, I never saw street art in such a small historic town.

  2. January 18, 2019 at 3:38 pm

    You’ve done an exceptional job capturing images of this town. How cool that is covered in so much beautiful street art!

  3. January 18, 2019 at 8:03 pm

    Wow! I had no idea about this town. I LOVE street art and I also love exploring medieval European towns like Vodnjan. I can’t believe that I would be able to do both here. Your photos are gorgeous.

    • January 22, 2019 at 11:06 pm

      Thank you, Nicole! In Istria and in all of Croatia there are many such hidden gems 🙂 That’s why I like visiting this country so much.

  4. January 19, 2019 at 12:39 am

    How beautiful these murals pop among the dull colored buildings?! Your photographs pulled me in and told a great story of Vodnjan!

  5. Ava
    January 19, 2019 at 1:59 am

    I have to admit that I am more comfortable when things are pretty planned out but the spontaneous things are always the most memorable. Street art in this old town is quite a contradiction. I started checking out street art when I visit places a couple of years ago and have come to enjoy most of it.

    • January 22, 2019 at 11:09 pm

      True, when everything is planned, it is certainly much more comfortable, but also a bit boring. That’s why I try to leave my comfort zone as often as possible. Magical things happen then. 🙂

  6. January 19, 2019 at 2:38 am

    WOW! I never heard of Vodnjan – but from your photos I clearly have to visit! This is so beautiful. Great job on this post – definitely a surprise. The streets are absolutely breathtaking!

    • January 22, 2019 at 11:16 pm

      It is a pity that I did not have more time to walk the streets of Vodnjan, there are certainly more treasures hidden there. Maybe someday I’ll come back and check it out. Thanks for the comment, Yara 🙂

  7. January 19, 2019 at 11:55 pm

    Ilove street art and make a habit to find it on my travels, br I never knew Croatia had such beautiful displays

    • January 22, 2019 at 11:18 pm

      I was surprised too. I heard that there is also a lot of interesting street art in Zagreb, but I have never been there :). Anyway, Vodnjan is a very interesting place and it’s worth visiting.

  8. January 20, 2019 at 4:06 am

    Thanks for this article! I’m from Serbia, but I haven’t had a chance to visit Croatia yet. When I do, I’ll be sure to check out Vodnjan. You really captured the dramatic contrast between the ancient cobblestone charm and the modern art flair in your pictures. Well done!

    • January 22, 2019 at 11:21 pm

      Hi, Valentina! Thank you, I’m glad you like my article. I, on the other hand, have never been to Serbia! And you know what? I would love to visit your country one day. I heard that it is really beautiful there.

  9. January 20, 2019 at 1:40 pm

    Hey Ewa,

    It is funny and interesting that I learned about Vodnjan street art and the Boombarstick and Street Art Festival from your blog post. I have never heard of it before. And guess what? I am from Croatia.
    Thanks for introducing Vodnjan street art to me!

    Pozdrav iz Hrvatske! <3

    xoxo Milijana

    • January 22, 2019 at 11:24 pm

      Oh great! In which city or region of Croatia do you live? Your country is beautiful, I visit Croatia as often as I can. I always spend a fantastic time there! Pozdrowienia z Polski, Milijana 🙂

  10. Blair villanueva
    January 20, 2019 at 2:05 pm

    These street art and graffiti are gorgeous and unique. So awesome that the community supports these many artists.

    • January 22, 2019 at 11:27 pm

      Yes, it’s really great that artists can create their murals in Vodnjan. Thanks to this town is completely different than the rest of the places in Istria. 🙂

  11. January 21, 2019 at 4:59 am

    This looks like a gorgeous little town in Croatia! I am intrigued to know that they actually have remnants of saints in the church, I don’t think I have heard that being done as common practice in other places. Also, the cobbled stone streets are amazing, it’s the kind of place that I love exploring. I have been to Croatia, though I haven’t heard of Vodnjan before. The street art is also amazing – you’re right in saying its like an open-air art gallery, you’ve captured the essence of it in your beautiful pictures!

    • January 22, 2019 at 11:41 pm

      From what I know also in the nearby Rovinj in the church is a sarcophagus with remnants of Saint. Euphemia that has been thrown out here by the sea. For me, this is nothing surprising actually, because there are many churches in Poland where there are relics of saints. We just have the same religion as the Croats and that is why there are many similarities between us 🙂

  12. January 22, 2019 at 12:12 am

    I always hear about dubrovbik in Croatia, thank you for bringing a different but equally interesting city to my attention!

    • January 22, 2019 at 11:42 pm

      Dubrovnik is such a top tourist attraction in Croatia, Vodnjan is rather off the beaten track. However, it is worth visiting this place 🙂

  13. January 23, 2019 at 7:52 am

    Wow, I love those streets, the colours are so nice. And the street art is amazing. I plan on returning to discover Croatia. (Only went to Dubrovnik for a couple of days before a flight home from the Balkans and I was disappointed.)