Piran – a Pearl of the Slovenian Mediterranean

July 2008

Slovenia boasts, in spite of its small geographical size, exceptional geographical diversity. One of the more memorable contrasts in the Slovenian landscape is the proximity of the Alpine and Mediterranean worlds, each offering the visitor a whole palette of regional characteristics. The Slovenian coast is certainly one of the more attractive parts, especially during summer.

Among coastal towns Piran certainly holds a special place. It is also called a pearl of Slovenian Mediterranean coast and visitors are invited to see for themselves that this name is fully justified.  

Piran - one of the most beautiful and also the oldest of Slovenian towns

Medieval Piran, situated on the peninsula between the bays of Piran and Strunjan is an attractive Adriatic coastal resort. Photo: UKOM archive

The town is considered to be one of the most beautiful and also the oldest of Slovenian towns, the architecture of which reminds one of Venice, which is not surprising if one knows that the Venetians were its masters for several centuries. The settlement began to develop in the 7th century, when Piran was mentioned in historical sources for the first time. Its masters changed throughout the centuries, with the increasing influence of Venice. In 1283 Piran accepted the authority of Venice, which lasted until the decline of the Venetian Republic in 1797. After that it fell under the authority of Austria until 1918. In the period between both world wars this territory belonged to Italy and later to Yugoslavia and Slovenia.

Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770) - town's most famous resident

The central town square was named after the town's most famous resident, Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770). Photo: Jakše - Jeršič

St. George's parish church dominates the hill above Piran. Not so far away lie the remnants of the town wall, which protected the town against attacks by the Turks. Within the town a famous Minorite monastery from the 17th century can be seen, with its remarkable cross-shaped corridor, where numerous musical events are held each summer. The central town square was named after the town's most famous resident, Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770), the violinist who ran a music school in Piran, which was famous throughout Europe.

The interesting fact remains that this square gained its present appearance in the second half of the 19th century, when the mandrač – the secured inner town port - was filled up. Around the square the most important buildings were erected, with Tartini's monument in the centre of the square. Here one can also find Tartini's house, and a house called the Venetian woman, built in the middle of the 15th century, one of the most beautiful Gothic buildings in Slovenia. The square was renovated between the years 1986 and 1992 based on the plans of the architect Boris Podrecca, when the elliptical platform made from white stone was designed. The narrow town streets hide many other remarkable sites of special interest.

Aquarium, Marine biology Station, Maritime Museum

Piran also boasts Slovenia's only sea aquarium featuring some 200 sea creatures. Photo: Portorož - Piran website

The accidental tourist might find it interesting to visit the Maritime Museum, which documents the rich naval tradition of this town and its wider hinterland. Shipping was one of the most important activities in the history of Piran. In addition, local residents were also engaged in fishing, numerous handicrafts, and the oil, wine and salt trades. The town maintains its naval tradition by being the hometown of the only Slovenian shipping company (Piran Shipping Company). The saltpans in nearby Sečovlje are still in operation. Piran also boasts Slovenia's only sea aquarium  featuring some 200 sea creatures.

On the north side of Piran’s town centre the road leads past the hamlet of Fiesa into Strunjan, while on the south side, the coastal road leads to Portorož with the famous Portorož beach. The town almost imperceptibly passes into the new town of Lucija with its very famous marina. Beyond the smaller peninsula of Seča the Sečovlje saltpans open to view.