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Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Croatian Coast - Our Traditions and Customs

Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Croatian Coast - Our Traditions and Customs

A small country proud of its traditions and customs

Tangible cultural heritage is an important factor in the tourist offer, especially those that are included in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List. Buildings of inestimable value, which are a witness of past times, are placed under protection so that future generations can enjoy their beauty and value. However, in addition to tangible heritage, there is also intangible heritage, which is an essential feature of a region and the people's way of life . Intangible cultural heritage includes speech, dance, tradition, performances, folklore, games, crafts and other intangible goods that are passed down from generation to generation and make life in a certain area unique. UNESCO has included 12 cultural expressions from the Republic of Croatia on the list of intangible cultural heritage. The list also includes intangible cultural heritage from Istria, but we will also mention those not so well-known, but very interesting and typical for Istria. If you have booked one of our villas in Istria, getting to know the traditions and customs will fullfill your vacation perfectly!

In 2009, UNESCO included Two-part singing and playing in the Istrian scale on the list of intangible cultural heritage. This way of singing and playing dates back to the 19th century, as evidenced by the preserved collections from that time. This way of singing takes place in groups, but never in a solo performance. If there is no group, at least two people sing, which can be two men, two women or one man and one woman. Today, this way of singing is mostly performed by men, but it is intended for both men and women. The instruments used in performances are wind and string instruments and typical for Istria and the Kvarner region. UNESCO has included this complex style of folk music in the list of intangible heritage, because of the special way the sound scale is used . Another reason is the fact that this traditional way of singing and playing is still alive and used throughout Istria and the Kvarner region.


Eco-museum Batana is located in the city of Rovinj, and is listed in the UNESCO Register of Good Safeguarding Practices for the preservation of the intangible cultural heritage of the world. It was founded in 2004 and deals with the preservation of tangible and intangible heritage from the city of Rovinj. It is located in a typical Rovinj house where fishermen and their families once lived. In the museum you can see and listen to a multimedia exhibition about the Rovinj dialect muostra. The exhibition includes texts, drawings, objects and a slide show that explains in a typical Roving dialect how to make a batana . Rovinj's fishing songs - bitinda, which fishermen sang while fishing, are played in the museum area. After visiting the museum, go to the Spacio - which in Rovinj means a tavern or wine cellar, and also forms part of the museum's exhibition. Spacio is a place where the citizens of Rovinj sold and tasted wine, sang, played games, socialized and ate.

Here you can try fresh fish and seafood dishes, homemade olive oil, and local wine e.g. Malvasia and Teran. The flavors and aromas of local cuisine are complemented by the song bitinada and the hospitality of the hosts. After a delicious meal, we suggest a walk to the Small Rovinj Pier, which was built in the Middle Ages, and was the center of all events in the city. That is why this is the place where the sightseeing of the permanent exhibition of the open-air Eco-museum begins. Batana - fishing boats, that were extremely important for fishermen and the inhabitants of the town, are moored next to Little Molo. Here you can see the return of fishermen from the sea and follow their conversation as they repair the net and prepare for the next catch. To complete the experience, you can take a boat trip that starts at the Little Molo at sunset and ends in the old town. A magical night ride by candlelight will round off the whole experience and impress the traditional Rovinj way of life in your memory!


The area of Istria is known for its quality and diverse gastronomic offer, which includes fish and meat dishes, wine, olive oil, truffles and a large number of desserts. The cakes include fritters, pints, crostules and, of course, the inevitable cukerancic cookie. Cukerancici are cookies named after cukar (eng. sugar), which are prepared for Easter, Christmas, weddings and baptisms, and their shape varied from village to village. That is exactly why The Art of Pazin Cukerancic Preparation is included in the list of protected cultural assets of Croatia. Pazin cookies are special, because the warm biscuits are dipped in brandy or white wine, and then rolled in crystal sugar. We are sure that you will be interested in the method of preparation, but perhaps more, in tasting the biscuits themselves!

The Istrian folk dance Balun, comes from the word ballo (eng. dance), and is used throughout Istria. Due to the changes of government in this area, the dance contains elements of the Dalmatian-Herzegovinian dance Lindo, elements of dance from the Adriatic and town of Sinj, elements of the Dinaric area, elements of the Bunjevac mens' dance and elements of the Labin dance. The dance has always been performed outdoors, it is wild and temperamental, and it involves several dance couples who are arranged in a circle and move around their axis in a clockwise direction. The dance was performed on Sundays, at weddings and during carnivals. Besides Balun, other dances such as Polka, Mazurka, Waltz or Saltin are also popular in Istria.


The traditional way of dressing in Istria includes folk costumes, jewelry and combs. The attire varied depending on the social class, the time of year, and the event to be attended. The traditional Istrian folk costume is very simple and modest, and was adapted to the way of life at that time and Istrian folk dance Balun. Women wore headscarves, and girls wore two braids wrapped around their heads. The costume consisted of a wide-sleeved shirt, over which went a black or brown dress and apron, and on their feet they wore white stockings and low shoes with heels. The men wore a small black wool cap, a white shirt over which went a vest, trousers and simple shoes. The costumes varied in certain details from place to place, but the basic way of dressing was very similar. Costumes are gradually ceasing to be worn by the development of the textile industry, but they have been preserved from oblivion by the oldest individuals from the entire area of Istria, who, according to their memory, reconstructed their costumes.

Petra Stazic

+385 1 222 70 50