Cosa vedere a Capodistria in un giorno- Porticciolo- Torre Civica- Barche- Taverna-Koper

A Brief Guide to Discovering Koper, the “Gateway to the World” in Slovenia

Are you in Slovenia and unsure whether to dedicate a day to Koper? Read this article and join us in discovering what to see in Koper in just one day!

Koper, known as Capodistria in Italian, is the major center of Slovenian Istria and the most important commercial port in the Balkan region, earning it the nickname “Gateway to the World.” Its maritime and industrial character might initially discourage visitors, but in reality, Koper is a fascinating town with distinctive corners that clearly reflect its ancient history. Moreover, it has recently developed a network of cycling paths and a vast pedestrian area in the old town, making the visit enjoyable and relaxing. For these reasons, we have decided to guide you on what to see in Koper in one day!

What to see in Koper in one day: A Brief History

Before delving into what to see in Koper in one day, it’s essential to provide some information about the city’s history. Like neighboring Piran and other Istrian cities, Koper has a long history closely connected to Italy. The appearance and architecture of its historic center, with narrow alleys and elegant buildings, reflect over five centuries of Venetian rule. Despite this, our visit revealed that its foundation dates back even further. Ancient Greeks mentioned it in their works, calling it Aegida, while under Roman rule, it was named Capris, from which the current Slovenian name Koper is derived.

Dramatic and significant pages were written by the city and its inhabitants, especially in the 20th century. It was a major center of Istrian irredentism and contributed many volunteers to the Italian army during World War I. Thanks to them, the Kingdom of Italy managed to conquer Istria, which had been under Austrian control in the 19th century.

The post-World War II period was challenging and painful for the Italian-speaking population. With Italy’s defeat, Istria, including Koper, came under Yugoslav control. Most Italians chose the path of exodus to Italy, replaced by people of Slavic origin. Only a few remained, preserving language and traditions, which allowed them to achieve bilingualism once Yugoslavia dissolved, and the Slovenian state was formed.

What to see in Koper in one day: Tito Square

What to see in Koper in one day - Piazza Tito - Tito Trg - Palazzo Pretorio - Civic Tower - Koper - Cathedral of the Assumption
Glimpse of Tito Square with Civic Tower and Palazzo Pretorio (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

Our exploration of what to see in Koper in one day begins with Tito Square, located in the heart of the old town. This is the most important and celebrated square in the city, representing one of the finest examples of Venetian-style squares in the upper Adriatic. The atmosphere created by the architecture of the surrounding buildings makes it feel more like a Venetian city than Slovenia. The palaces facing the ancient “Platea Communis” all date back to the 15th century and have retained their original appearance.

Pretorian Palace

Standing out among their white facades is the Pretorian Palace, a symbol of the city built in Venetian Gothic style. It served as the seat of the podestà, a position directly appointed by the Serenissima, and the major council of Koper for a long time. Today, it houses the Municipality and hosts a well-equipped tourist office on the ground floor. The facade is adorned with a long series of coats of arms, reliefs, lions of St. Mark, and especially a long crenellation above. If you pay attention, you can also spot niches with busts depicting some renowned podestà and captains. The elegant staircase leading to the banquet hall is also an excellent vantage point to observe the square from a different perspective.

You’ll notice an arch halfway up the building, offering a beautiful view of Cevljarska Ulica (Shoemakers Street). The name clearly reflects the city’s historical mercantile vocation, and it remains the main shopping street in Koper.

what to see in Koper in one day - Cevljarska Ulica - Via dei Calzolai - Shopping - Palazzo Pretorio
Cevljarska Ulica (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

Civic Tower and the Cathedral

What to see in Koper in one day - Tito trg - Tito Square - Cathedral of the Assumption - Civic Tower - Palazzo della Loggia
Glimpse of Tito Square with the Cathedral and Palazzo della Loggia (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

A few meters from the Pretorian Palace rises the tall and massive Civic Tower. With its 36 meters, it is practically visible from every point in the city. Once you climb the internal stairs, you can enjoy a beautiful panorama of the entire old town and the bay. Its style is typical of Italian bell towers of the time, and in the bell chamber, it houses one of the oldest bells in Slovenia, dating back to 1333.

The adjacent Cathedral, dedicated to the Assumption and St. Nazarius, was built in the 12th century and progressively expanded over the centuries. This is particularly evident in the main facade, a mix of Romanesque, Gothic, and Renaissance styles. The interior was embellished and enriched until the Baroque period; many artists from Venice, including Pietro Liberi, Andrea Celesti, Antonio Zanchi, and especially Vittore Carpaccio, contributed. The latter’s most significant painting, depicting the Sacred Conversation, is still preserved.

Lodge Palace

Opposite the Pretorian Palace stands the beautiful Lodge Palace. Dating back to the mid-15th century, the palace features a graceful loggia that extends along the entire length of the main facade. It currently houses a bar and a gallery but was once a meeting place for merchants to discuss their business. Notable, in addition to the coats of arms and the inevitable lion of St. Mark, is the terracotta statue of the Madonna housed in the niche on the corner of the facade. It was commissioned by the citizens to thank her for saving them from the devastating plague of 1554.

What to see in Koper in one day: Kidriceva Ulica

In the overview of what to see in Koper in one day, Kidriceva Ulica is a must-visit. This street is one of the most important and characteristic in the city, connecting Tito Square with Carpaccio Square and the waterfront. The street is to be walked slowly to appreciate all its peculiarities!

About halfway along, you’ll encounter the Belgramoni-Tacco Palace, a beautiful example of Baroque architecture from the 18th century. The palace houses the Regional Museum of Koper, displaying artifacts and works that narrate the city’s history. Among them are ancient port maps, reproductions of medieval frescoes, and various sculptures and paintings in the Italian style from the 16th century. In the inner courtyard, some of the oldest Roman-era artifacts found in Istria are preserved. If you’re observant, you’ll also notice the beautiful bronze knocker on the museum’s entrance door, depicting Venus in the famous conch shell pose.

Continuing along the street, you’ll encounter some of the city’s oldest buildings: the so-called medieval houses. They still display wooden beams supporting the second floor, which protrudes more than the lower one. The decorative geometric pattern created with red, green, white, and yellow tiles is also characteristic.

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The medieval houses in Kidriceva Ulica

What to see in Koper in one day: Carpaccio Square and the Waterfront

When considering what to see in Koper in one day, Carpaccio Square cannot be missed. Named after the famous Venetian painter, with its colorful houses, it is undoubtedly one of the most picturesque and interesting spots in the city. Here you’ll find the 15th-century Carpaccio House, which is believed to have been the residence of the painter and his son Benedetto. On the square, there is also the Column of St. Justina, commemorating the Christians’ victory at Lepanto in 1571, and a well shaped like a capital. Closing the square is the Tavern, a portico that served as a salt warehouse for centuries and now hosts markets and concerts.

What to see in Koper in one day - Carpaccio trg - Carpaccio Square - Column of Santa Giustina - Carpaccio house - Tavern-capital well
Carpaccio Square (credit to Matteo Marongiu)

After crossing the Tavern, you reach the waterfront, an ideal place for a beautiful and leisurely stroll by the sea. The waterfront runs along a significant part of the historic center and represents a charming blend of modernity and antiquity.

Here, you can walk or sit on a bench to observe the harbor filled with boats of all kinds and sizes; there are also long piers that allow you to view the city from the sea. The waterfront is also perfect for tasting local dishes in a restaurant or simply sipping a drink in traditional cafes.

What to see in Koper in one day: Da Ponte Fountain

Returning to the historic center, we arrive at the last but no less fascinating place in the overview of what to see in Koper in one day: the Da Ponte Fountain. Built in 1666 by order of Podestà Da Ponte, it was used for drawing water until 1898. Its shape is quite unique: the octagonal basin is topped by a baroque-style balustrade bridge, with four pyramids, each with a sphere on top, making it resemble the Guglie Bridge in Venice, according to some. The elaborate structure is surrounded by 15 baroque columns adorned with coats of arms of other families, pine cones, and stone spheres. Chains connecting the columns used to prevent livestock from approaching the basin for hygiene reasons.

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Da Ponte Fountain

Now that you know what to see in Koper in one day, be sure to include it in your list of places to visit in Istria!

If you want to stay in Koper in the best accommodations at the best prices, click here

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Article Name
What to see in Koper
Explore what to see in Koper, Slovenia in just one day! Uncover hidden gems with our guide to the "Gateway to the World."
Publisher Name
La Scimmia Viaggiatrice