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.
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.
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!
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.
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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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.
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.
You’ve done an exceptional job capturing images of this town. How cool that is covered in so much beautiful street art!
Thank you, Caitlin 🙂
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.
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.
How beautiful these murals pop among the dull colored buildings?! Your photographs pulled me in and told a great story of Vodnjan!
Thank you, Jordin 🙂 I’m glad you like the photos.
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.
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. 🙂
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!
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 🙂
Ilove street art and make a habit to find it on my travels, br I never knew Croatia had such beautiful displays
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.
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!
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.
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
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 🙂
These street art and graffiti are gorgeous and unique. So awesome that the community supports these many artists.
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. 🙂
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!
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 🙂
I always hear about dubrovbik in Croatia, thank you for bringing a different but equally interesting city to my attention!
Dubrovnik is such a top tourist attraction in Croatia, Vodnjan is rather off the beaten track. However, it is worth visiting this place 🙂
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.)
Oh why were you disappointed? Didn’t you like Dubrovnik?
Thank you and I appreciate your comment.