Walk through Piran

Name Piran comes from PYROS or PYR, Greek word for fire or light house, originally light was here to navigate boats to Koper.

The ancient town with narrow streets. With its 5.000 inhabitants (12 churches and 2 priests), Piran is the best preserved old town on the Slovene coast, and is protected as an urban, cultural and historic monument. Narrow streets make Piran’s traffic impossible. Parking places are outside old part of the town. Town centre is open only for locals and supplying.

Settlement was founded by refugees from Aquilea, after the town was destroyed in 5. century by Atila the Hun. Some documents from 7. century are saying, that on the site of today’s Piran was fort under Byzantine administration. Town wall was originally only around Punta. At the end of 13. century Piran came under Venetian rule. Town started to grow to east. Port Campo (Field gate) in 15. century and Marčano in early 16. century still inside the town wall. Danger of attacks by Turks army was still big. During 16. and 17. century growth was continued outside the town wall toward Portorož. Wall was ruined in early 20. century. Of original 2 km long wall, today still stands about 200 metres long stretch.

Citizens lived mostly from maritime trade, fishing and salt-works. They had salt-works around Lucija, Sečovlje and Strunjan. Venetian rule lasted from 1283 to 1797, after was under Hapsburg’s rule. After World War 2 was as Koper in Zone B, joined to Slovenia in 1954.

You need to park your car outside the old town. You can take a bus, which stops at the entrance to the garage, or you can take 15 minutes long walk to Tartini square. I think is it is worth of spending time and shoes and walk narrow streets to the square. The way takes you to the bus station and just after the station a pedestrian  street turns to the right. Just go straight, pass an old Marcana Gate to the town. The street takes you directly to Tartini square.

  • Tartini square: On the place of the square was until 1894 a harbour for the fishing boats of Piran. In 1894 it was filled in because of the bad smell and health reasons. It used to be outside the town wall. Buildings around the square are built in different styles. From Venetian Gothic to Vienna Classicism. On the middle of the square is statue of Giusepe Tartini, Italian violinist and composer, born in 1692 in a house on North-East side of the square. He lived and worked in the shadow of Vivaldi, just like Solieri lived and worked in the shadow of Mozart. Important buildings and structures around the square are: stone flag poles, Court House, Town Hall, Loggia, Polish gate, Venetian house, Tartini house, and church of St. Peter. Close to the square is also Sergej Mašera Museum and Aquarium. From the square on the top of the hill you can see church of St. George. See the angel at the top of the campanile, how it follows a wind direction.
  • Town hall: When the Venetians came to Piran at the endo of 13. century, they built the Town Hall building outside the town walls just close to the harbour. It was built in the Roman-Gothic style with lot of inscriptions and coats of arms on the facade. In 1877 it was demolished and built a new one.  New Town Hall was built in Vienna style, Vienna Classicism. Number of ornaments are built in to the facade from the old building. Lion with an open book, coats of arms,…
  • Venetian house: Red house built in 15. century, the oldest preserved house on Tartini square. The most beautiful example of Venetian architecture in Piran. Windows and corner balcony are the most impressive. Between the windows on the second floor there is a stone relief with the inscription: LASA PUR DIR…let them talk. According to the legend the house was built by a rich  Venetian merchant. In the time when Piran was part of Venetian Republic and the maritime trade was flourishing, big number of merchants came to Piran. One day a wealthy merchant from Venice fell in love with a local girl. Locals started to talk about their love and life. But he wanted to show his beloved the power of his love and built her a house. With the inscription “let them talk” he showed to the locals how he doesn’t care about their gossips.

Continue passing the Venetian house. Across the street is Loggia and the Polish Gate. Turn left up the hill.  Soon you’ll come to one of the remains of the town wall.

  • City wall: The oldest town centre was built in 7. century. It was situated close to the end of peninsula. As the town expanded outside the town wall, town had to move the wall towards south-east. In the final phase of the expansion at the beginning of 16. century, the so called third town wall was built. The largest part of the wall was built in 15. and 16. century. Total length was about 200 meters, today left only 200 meters of wall.

Before the town wall turn to the left to the church of St. George.

  • Church of St. George (Jurij): First you pass octagonal baptistery from 17. century and the last building of the new church complex. Bell tower is from 17. century, very fine copy of Venetian Campanile, atop is statue of angel, which is turning according to the wind direction. First church was probably built in 12. century. Before the first church church was built here, here was a Roman light house, showing direction to Koper. To the present size it was built in 14. century. Today’s  church is a baroque church from early 17. century. Richly ornamented church has flat wooden ceiling. Interesting is wooden sculpture of St. George in a battle with dragon. Walk behind the church and admire a view to Strunjan, Debeli rtič and Trieste.

Walk down the stairs through narrow streets to Punta and 1. May Square.

  • Punta is original core of the historic town. Narrow streets, rectangular network of streets are definitely worth of visit.
  • 1. May square: until 13. century main square in the town. On the square are 2 wells, standing on a big platform from 18. century. They were built to solve the problem with public supply with water, after few drought. Two statues: law and justice. In middle ages on main squares executions were made.

The end of the peninsula you can reach by walking to the see and to the right from there or through narrow streets leading from the square towards north-west. Just before the church of St. Clement you pass Milje Gate, the town gate from 13. century, one of the oldest preserved gates in Piran.

  • Cape Madonna, church of St. Clement together with medieval fortification and new-Gothic light house.


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