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Grožnjan - Croatia's unique artists' village

Grožnjan – Croatia’s unique artists’ village

Grožnjan
In the middle of the 20th century, the Croatian town of Grožnjan already seemed doomed. Then help came from an unexpected source.

The Croatian town of Grožnjan impresses with its medieval flair and spectacular views of the Mirna Valley and the Adriatic Sea. However, it is known for its numerous galleries and festivals. It is thanks to artists from all over the world that Grožnjan still exists today.

The small town of Grožnjan is located in Croatia’s popular Mediterranean region of Istria , a good 200 meters high on a hill. Anyone who climbs up here has a view of the wide Mirna valley as far as the Adriatic coast, which is only a few kilometers away. But the real attraction is the place itself. Because although only a few hundred people live here, there are numerous art galleries and festivals in Grožnjan.

Painters, musicians, sculptors, theater actors, they can all be found here in the small town, which houses up to 60 galleries, depending on sources. There are also various boutiques and shops where the residents sell things like handmade things or local olive oil. And especially in spring and summer in Grožnjan it is not uncommon to meet artists from all over the world giving an impromptu concert or performing a play on the street.

The end seemed near

Grožnjan
In Grožnjan there are only a few hundred inhabitants, but dozens of galleries

But how did Grožnjan become the secret artistic capital of Croatia? The history of the place goes back to 1102 when it is first mentioned. Various powerful houses such as the Venetians ruled over the strategically important spots high above the Mirna Valley. In the first decades of the 20th century, a railway even stopped in Grožnjan, connecting small and large towns in Istria.

In 1935, however, Italian dictator Mussolini personally ordered the line to be dismantled. Without such an important connection to the world, Grožnjan slowly fell into oblivion. A process that accelerated significantly after the Second World War when many of the villagers resettled in Italy. The sublime houses, some of which are almost 1000 years old, fell into disrepair, Grožnjan became more and more deserted. Until 1965 rescue came from an unexpected source.

How Grožnjan became a destination for artists

Grožnjan
Artists from all over the world populate and inhabit Grožnjan today

Because that year, the Croatian government had the brilliant idea of ​​promoting the place nationwide as a refuge for artists. They followed the call – and the promise that they would be allowed to use the houses in Grožnjan free of charge for life. Artists from all over the world soon came to Croatia to settle in the small village in Istria. Quite a few have stayed to this day.

Because that year, the Croatian government had the brilliant idea of ​​promoting the place nationwide as a refuge for artists. They followed the call – and the promise that they would be allowed to use the houses in Grožnjan free of charge for life. Artists from all over the world soon came to Croatia to settle in the small village in Istria. Quite a few have stayed to this day.

And while in summer the whole place is almost an open-air stage, you can stroll between the numerous galleries and admire the works of painters, sculptors and other artists. And so, new life was breathed into an old place that seemed already doomed. Anyone traveling in the Istria region can see this for themselves today.

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