Town of Poreč
The Town of Poreč, almost 2.000 years old, is located in a harbor protected from the sea by an islet St. Nicola. Due to its extraordinary geographical position, today it is one of the strongest tourist centres in Croatia. It is a city of beautiful cultural and historical sites, exemplar horticultural decoration, diverse accommodation and rich restauranteur and tourist offer, particularly sports and recreational, and as such is the most common target of European tourists in Croatia.
Poreč is the second largest Istrian city in number of inhabitants, according to 2011 Census it has 16.696. The city of Poreč covers the area of 139 square kilometres.
Poreč has been inhabited since prehistoric times. During the 2nd century B.C., Roman castrum was erected on a tiny peninsula, 400 m long and 200 m wide, on the place of today’s old city centre. In the 3rd century A.D., the city already had an organized Christian community and an early Christian church complex. With the Treaty of Aachen in 812 between the Frankish Empire and the Byzantine Empire, Istria was officially made part of the Frankish Empire. The dissolution of the Frankish Empire saw the forming of first independent communes, including Poreč. The status of the free city will be kept until 1267, when Poreč puts itself under the Venetian protection, becoming thus the first property of the Republic of St. Marco in Istria. With the loss of the status of free city, the city started to decay slowly. In the 14th and the 15th century Poreč became the city of tradesmen and craftsmen and some of its most beautiful palaces were built then: Zuccato palace, Parisi-Gonan palace and others. Throughout the 16th century it was hit by many wars in which the Venetian Republic took part, and epidemics of various diseases, especially plague, so the number of inhabitants decreased constantly (in 1630, the city had only 30 inhabitants). From 1861, Istria was given its self-governance and Poreč became the seat of the County’s Parliament: Istrian Parliament (Dietà istriana). During the 19th century, Poreč became the scene of national ideologies, with the Italians on one side and the Croatians on the other. At the same time both the city and the entire Istria, experienced modernisation and economic development, so in the early 20th century the railway Poreč – Trieste was established, known as Parenzana, and due to tourism, first hotels were also built. After the World War I, the Austro-Hungary ceases to exist and the city was put under the Italian authority. In 1947 Istria, and consequently Poreč, became a part of Yugoslavia, while the city saw between 80-90% of its population leave to exile in Italy. Yugoslavian era was characterised by industrialisation and construction of tourism capacities. In 1991, changes occurred at the state level when Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia and Poreč as a part of Croatia entered a new era.
Old city of Poreč kept the street layout of the old Roman castrum. Main streets Decumanus and Cardo Maximus are still preserved in its original ancient form. Well-kept is also the Marafor, a Roman square (forum) with two temples, one of which was erected in the 1st century A.D. and dedicated to the Roman god Nepune. Several houses from the Romanic period are preserved (Romanic house on Marafor), as well as several beautiful Gothic Venetian palaces. Istarska sabornica (Istrian Parliament House), originally Franciscan Gothic church from the 13th century, was redecorated in the Baroque style in the 18th century. The City had defensive city walls from 12th to 19th century.
The complex of the Euphrasian Basilica from the 5th century, which was expanded for the first time in the location of the original church in the 6th century, during the Byzantine rule and the Bishop Euphrasius, represents the most important and the most valuable cultural heritage site in Poreč, and UNESCO put it on its list of World Cultural Heritage Sites in 1997.