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Charming. Lovely. Appealing. Enchanting. These are just a few adjectives that could be used to describe the peninsula town of Piran, Slovenia. Picture Piran: the stunning turquoise sea surrounds three sides of the town that is situated between Italy and Croatia on Slovenia’s 29 miles of coastline. Café tables are abundant on the cobblestone streets that weave through the preserved medieval center. Music often floats on the breeze; a nod to Piran-born violinist and composer, Giuseppe Tartini, whose statue stands in the center of the main square that bears his name. Above the red-tiled rooftops, a lone bell tower pierces the sky, while defensive walls rise even higher on the hillside; both built as protective measures. Take a look at the town through our camera lens and picture Piran, Slovenia.
Picture Piran: In the City
Tartini Square is the heart of Piran. A continuous flow of people pulses through the center before disappearing down the narrow streets that lead away from it. From our vantage point on the top of the bell tower, we can imagine how the square looked prior to 1894 when it was an inner fishing port, filled with water and boats rather than shiny marble and festival tents.
The bronze version of Giuseppe Tartini has been standing in the center of Piran since 1896. Behind him, dominating the square is the Municipal Palace, which features a Venetian winged lion, marking a time of peace. The other buildings that surround the square – a church and the birthplace of Tartini among them – date to the 14th and 15th centuries. Even older are the 9th century stone pillars at the base of the flag poles that mark the entrance to the square from the harbor.
Just beyond the entrance to Tartini Square, is a small oval-shaped harbor. Blue fishing boats line the semi-circular space, bobbing on the water.
Looking back toward Piran from the far end of the harbor, the multitude of sailboat masts create a curtain between us and the town. Try as they might to shield our view, our eyes are still drawn to the hilltop Church of St. George and bell tower.
Standing in front of St. George’s Church, the Renaissance façade looms high above us; the imposing effect intentional as possible invaders arriving by sea would be deterred from attacking a town that had a population big enough to deserve such a large church. Built on the site of a previous church at the beginning of the 1600s, it was named for the town’s patron saint; the space above the door was built for his statue, but has never been filled. Frescos and statues adorn the inside of the church, but the most notable piece of artwork, Crucified from Piran, is a realistic wooden sculpture of Christ on a Y-shaped cross. Behind the church, built separate from it in 1608, is the iconic bell tower styled after the campanile of St. Mark’s Church in Venice.
Climbing the 146 steps of St. George’s Church Bell Tower provides some of the best views of Piran; the 360 degree views extend to both Italy and Croatia. Already built at the top of a hill, the bell tower reaches 155 feet, with an additional 12-foot-tall copper version of Archangel Michael gracing the top. Up-close views – and sounds – of the bells that clang every 15 minutes can also be seen from the platform.
St. George’s may be the largest, but it certainly isn’t the only church in Piran. Throughout the town are numerous churches, emphasizing the historic importance of the Catholic religion. Even today, the faithful light candles at small shrines dedicated to the Virgin Mary that are tucked along the cobblestone streets.
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Picture Piran: From the Sea
Entering Piran’s harbor from the Adriatic Sea provides the most dramatic views of the historic city. It is impossible to miss the dominance of the church that dwarfs the rest of the lower town.
Boats of all sizes and sails of all colors are certain to be seen on the Adriatic Sea in the summertime.
As our boat floated toward the tip of the peninsula, we glimpsed the entirety of Piran. In one line of sight, we could see it all; from the lighthouse on the point to St. George’s on the hill to the city walls standing formidably on the hillside, protecting the town from harm.
With a strong wind in the sails, a boat gracefully glides on the water, passing Piran in the distance.
Late in the day, the south side of Piran’s peninsula basks in the soft light of the sun.
Without a true beach in Piran, the breakwater rocks are where tourists sunbath by the sea. But, in recent years, Piran has invited artists to chisel the rocks at the point into sculptures. As we walk along the seawall, we watch the artists work with headphones on, tapping on their hammers steadily to create designs in the limestone rocks.
Picture Piran: At Sunset
On a clear, still day, without wind or clouds, a sailboat motors toward Piran’s harbor at the same time that the orange sun sinks toward the horizon.
On the point of Piran’s peninsula is a unique church and lighthouse combination. The 13th century St. Clement’s Church was renamed Our Lady of Health Church in the 17th century to protect Piran from the plague. Today, it enjoys healthy doses of sunshine and shines in the light of the setting sun.
A golden sunset ends the day as boats return to Piran’s harbor.
Through the arches of the remaining hillside town walls, St. George’s Church and bell tower capture the last light of the day. The defensive walls that were built on Mogoron Hill between 1470 and 1534 included eight towers and mark the eastern edge of Piran.
As the sun slants toward the horizon, the last light of the day sparkles on the water.
Sunset in Piran, Slovenia.
Sailing into the sun from Piran, Slovenia.
Our top tips for your trip to Piran, Slovenia
Where To Stay
During our visit to Piran, we stayed in this awesome Airbnb Apartment. Not already a member of Airbnb? Use this link to create an account and save money on your first stay!) However, for those who prefer staying in traditional accommodations, there are many hotels to choose from in – or close to – the city center. Check out these top-rated hotels (based on guest reviews!) for your upcoming trip:
Or These Hostels:
Before You Go
- Don’t forget to pack a pair of lightweight and comfortable walking shoes. I (Sarah) have traveled with these shoes by Columbia, Skechers and Reef. Kris prefers wearing these shoes by Merrell and Sanuk.
- We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your trip. Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for higher quality photos. We travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos, but can be a bit clunky) and a Canon PowerShot ELPH (which takes beautiful pictures, is slim and lightweight – and the new models are wifi enabled so you can share your trip pics to social media in real time!).
- It’s easy to get turned around or lost in any new city! Be sure to have a good guidebook prior to arriving.
- We think travel insurance is essential! If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip, travel protected with World Nomads.
Want more travel planning tips? Head over to our Travel Planning page for our complete packing list and other travel resources!
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