Istria is probably the most developed tourist region in Croatia with towns such as Rovinj and Poreč that attract a serious number of tourists. Besides the beautiful coastline the peninsula of Istria boasts excellent cuisine and medieval hilltop towns much like the region of Tuscany in Italy. However, there are still many off the beaten track places in Istria and in Croatia in general that you can visit.
There is a significant number of fortresses in different stages of disrepair and ruin around Croatia that can be visited for free. Recently, I had the opportunity to visit one of such forgotten and abandoned fortresses. But there are many well-preserved castles and fortresses too that attract tourists.
Since my husband and I both love medieval festivals we recently visited a small medieval festival at Dvigrad Ruins in Istria (only 25mins from Rovinj inland). I found out about it by coincidence, an ad popped on my Facebook news feed. So, we took our 20 months old boy to see some medieval knights. It was a hot Saturday afternoon which might explain the lack of visitors (admission was free, the ruins can be visited any time for free too). I think there were more performers than visitors at this festival. Firstly, we walked all over the Dvigrad Ruins. Dvigrad was a prosperous town with a fortress and a church until the plague and the malaria depopulated it in the 16th century. The last surviving families moved out at the beginning of the 18th century and since then this town has been abandoned.
There was a procession of all the participants at the opening of this medieval festival. Then there was a dance by the local folklore group followed by presentations of sword fighting, short shows and workshops for the kids. It was fun to watch the sword fighting and my husband was even picked from the audience to participate in one show. I must say, he does know a bit about sword fighting:) Our boy liked climbing all over the walls and the ruins and he also seemed interested in the shows. My biggest complaint was the lack of rubbish bins and food/drinks stalls. There were a couple of portaloos below the fortress. There is some sort of a roadside cafe at the road below the fortress but there was nothing on the premises of the actual ruins where the festival was held. All in all, it was a fun half-day trip.
Do you like medieval festivals? Have you visited some abandoned ruins too? Check out my other Croatia posts too in my blog’s archive.