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Mirna river and its surroundings - explore historical towns of Istria

Mirna river and its surroundings - explore historical towns of Istria

Explore the beautiful Mirna valley – a place of legends and giants with rich cultural and historical significance

Mirna is the longest river in Istria with a length of more than 50 km. Its value for this area has been undisputable throughout the ages: from mills, to transport and trading as well as sports activities. Today, Mirna river flows peacefully through an artificially made riverbed, while surrounded by stunning scenery, pastures, forests, hills and picturesque hilltop towns.

The river´s spring is located in a small village called Kotli. Mirna river flows through the village of Kotli forming waterfalls and hollowing cauldron-like forms in stone that gave the village its name (Croatian kotao-cauldron).
When you are in Kotli area then visiting Hum, the smallest town in the world, is a must. Legends say that Mirna valley was first inhabited by giants. Each giant settled on his own hill and used large stone blocks to build the towns in the valley. After they built all the larger towns and villages, the giants used the remaining stones and built together the hilltop village of Hum. Even today, Hum is a cultural, historical and a gastronomical centre, mostly known for its Glagolitic wall writings - one of the oldest examples of Croatian Glagolitic literary culture in the Middle Ages.


If you follow the flow of the river you will also reach Buzet, a town inhabited since ancient times when Illyrians came to this area and began to build settlements surrounded by walls. Buzet is known as the “roof of Istria”, providing stunning views of the countryside. Here you can buy and try some of the finest Istrian truffle, a true delicacy for gourmets.

On its way towards the Adria, not long after you pass Buzet, the longest Istrian river gradually slows down and finally almost stops in the Novigrad area, which is why the river is called Mirna (Croatian mirna = steady, still).


Motovun is probably the most recognised example of the beauty of Istrian countryside. Narrow streets, tall stone and colourful houses, beautiful sights from everywhere you stand and friendly locals – you will fall in love with the town as soon as you step on its stunning land. On most postcards and photographs of Motovun, the first thing you will notice is the Church of St. Stephen built during the 16th century, as well as its bell tower, once used as an observatory post. Today, except for its beauty, the town is mostly known for the film festival taking place on its streets. Motovun is also the town of Veli Joze, a gigantic farmer from the novel of the Croatian writer Vladimir Nazor. Through time, Veli Joze became a symbol of Istria, of its hardship and troubles, but also of the strength it took the locals to fight off those that wanted to rule the territory. Near Motovun grows the magnificent Motovun forest, rich with delicious truffles.


Just a short drive from Motovun, you will find Groznjan, known as the city of artists. And not without reason: this tiny hilltop town is full of art galleries and studios where you can check out and buy handmade items. Up until the mid 20th century, Groznjan was on the verge of dying, until a group of painters and artists decided to renovate the houses and move in. Today, Groznjan is one of the most unique towns in Istria – definitely worth the visit!

During ancient times, the water level of the Mirna river was much higher and it was possible for larger ships to sail upstream all the way to Groznjan. The ships sailing across Mirna river were carrying different sorts of goods that were sold or traded.

When staying in one of our beautiful villas in Buzet, villas in Motovun or Groznjan, do not miss the chance to explore the Mirna valley, visit its charming hilltop towns and enjoy the unique views of the surroundings and the Mirna valley.

Marija Kancir

+385 1 222 70 50