Piran is a city and municipality in southwestern Slovenia on the Gulf of Piran on the Adriatic Sea. It is one of the three major towns of Slovenian Istria. The city resembles a large open-air museum, with medieval architecture and a rich cultural heritage. Narrow streets and compact houses give the town its special charm. It is the administrative center of the local area and one of Slovenia’s major tourist attractions. It is a beautiful town in north Adriatic with the huge resemblance to the famous south Adriatic jewel Dubrovnik. Long tradition and the multicultural environment has made this coastal city a special place to visit and enjoy.
Beauty of Piran
Piran is a very special, precious city. It is the best preserved cultural monument of Slovenian Istria. Each time one looks at Piran from a distance or from the air, he is taken aback. Loved by the eyes of the people and by the eye of the camera, its image is known all over the world. While visiting Piran, one should take a closer look at its architecture, influenced by the Venetian Republic, which left its mark on most Istrian towns. Throughout time, Piran maintained the clustered medieval structure narrow winding streets; houses huddled close together, rising in cascades, the contact with the sea, numerous squares, and churches. Tartini Square is the gem found in the very center of Piran. It was named after the famous violinist and composer Giuseppe Tartini, who made the town world-famous. His statue is located in the center of the square. The city is surrounded by a circular wall. Piran is a member of the European Walled Cities Association.
National Historical Monument
The city of Piran is a national historical monument. People earn their living primarily by tourism. Numerous events take place all year round in the open and in magnificent buildings named after famous people from Piran. The Church of St. George, the patron saint of Piran, rises above the town. From its lookout tower, one can have a wonderful view of Piran, its surroundings and all the way across the sea to the Croatian and Italian Coast.
History of Piran
In the pre-Roman era, the hills in the Piran area were inhabited by Illyrian Histri tribes who were farmers, hunters, and fishermen. They were also pirates who disrupted Roman trade in the north Adriatic Sea. The Piran peninsula was incorporated into the Roman Empire in 178 and 177 BC and settled in the following years with rural homes or ‘Villerusticae.’ The decline of the Empire, from the 5th century AD onwards, and subsequent incursions by the Avars and Slavs at the end of the 6th century, prompted the Roman population to withdraw into easily defensible locations such as islands or peninsulas. This started local urbanization and by the 7th century under Byzantine rule, Piran had become heavily fortified. Despite the defenses, the Franks conquered Istria in 788 and Slavs settled in the region. By 952, Piran had become a part of the Holy Roman Empire. The earliest reliable records of the area are in the 7th-century work Cosmographia by an anonymous cleric of Ravenna. Here, the name “Paragon” was referred to as a Roman town on the Istrian coast.
The first trolleybus line in the Balkans was introduced to public service on 24 October 1909 in Piran, then part of Austria-Hungary. It ran from the Tartini Square, the central square of the town, along with the coast and the shipyard to Lucija. The town authorities bought five trolleybuses manufactured by the Austrian company Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft. In 1912, it was replaced by a team that operated on the same route till 1953.
On 24 October 2010, Slovenia became the first country in former communist Europe to elect a black mayor. The physician Peter Bossman, who came over from Ghana in the late 1970s, was elected mayor of Piran. He officially took office at the first constitutional meeting of the municipal council on 12 November 2010, succeeding Tomaz Gantar. He represents the Social Democrats.
Piran is the birthplace of composer and violinist Giuseppe Tartini, who played an important role in shaping its cultural heritage. The town’s main square, Tartini Square is named after him. In 1892, to mark the 200th anniversary of Tartini’s birth, the people of Piran decided to erect a monument in his honor. Venetian artist Antonio dal Zotto was commissioned to create the larger-than-life bronze statue of the ace, which was eventually mounted on its pedestal in 1896. The statue dominates the square, overlooked by the Cathedral of Saint George.
Piran is now the seat of the Euro-Mediterranean University (EMUNI), founded in 2008 as one of the cultural projects of the Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean.
The municipality’s festival is on October 15, which celebrates the foundation of the first Slovenian partisan naval detachment named Koper, in 1944. This was the first ever Slovenian naval military unit.
Piran is situated at the tip of the Piran peninsula on the Gulf of Piran. It borders Croatia to the south, and the municipalities of Izola and Koper to the east and faces Italy across the Gulf of Trieste and the Adriatic Sea. The highest point, Baretovec Pri Padni, is 289 meters high.
Piranhas a humid subtropical climate with warm summers and cool rainy winters. Snow is rare with usually 3 days per year. There are 22 days a year with the maximum of 30 °C or 86 °F or higher, while one day a year temperature does not exceed 0 °C or 32 °F. Fog appears in about 4 days per year, mainly in winter. The climate is also characterized by frequent rainfall.
The municipality is bilingual, both Slovene and Italian are official languages. In the surrounding countryside, which is now included within the city limits, the population was mixed, both Italian and Slovene, with some villages like Sveti Peter or Padna which were almost entirely Slovene, and others that were almost exclusively Italian-speaking.
Piran was heavily influenced by the Venetian Republic and Austria-Hungary, therefore the monuments differ greatly from the ones in inner parts of Slovenia. The Piran town walls were constructed to protect the town from Turkish Empire, and many parts of the city walls from different eras remain up to this day and are important attractions for tourists. In the middle of the town, the Tartini Square is located, on which a monument in memory of Giuseppe Tartini stands since 1896. Nearby are located various important buildings, such as, Tartini’s house which is first mentioned in 1384, and is one of the oldest in town, the Municipal Palace, Loggia, and Benecanka, among others. On the hill above the town is the biggest and most important church, the Church of Saint George, with the Franciscan monastery nearby.
The municipality has an international airport and a marina. Piran is also the transmission site of the medium wave transmitter of Radio Koper. It works on 1170 kHz and uses as an antenna a 123.6 meters tall guyed mast with cage antenna. The town is also connected with other coastal settlements by a free bus line, mostly operating during the tourist season. By way of the following, tourists can get to Piran:
Automobiles: Being close to Italy and Croatia, Piran is very easily accessible by car. It lies only 34 km from the Italian and 16 km from the Slovenian motorway. Piran can be accessed from the direction Ljubljana/Trieste–Koper–Izola–Portoroz–Piran.
Railway: The Koper Railway Station is 16km from Piran.
Bus: The Piran Bus Station is situated at the gateway to the old town center of Piran, right by the sea.
Airplane: The Portoroz Airfield is 8km from the town of Piran, international Ljubljana Joze Pucnik Airport 145km, and Ronchi Airport, Italy, 80km.
Ship: Boat trips to Venice are available as well as a number of panoramic trips. The Portoroz Marina is 4km from the town center, the Izola Marina 8 km, and the Koper Marina and Port 17km. By sea, Portoroz and Venice are only 55 miles, Lignano 22 and Grado 15 miles respectively.