una passeggiata tra i vicoli del borgo di Pirano- Piran- Piazza Tartini- Panorama. Campanile di San Giorgio

A Brief Guide to Discovering the Charms of the Slovenian Istrian Village

Planning a vacation to explore Slovenia? Then read on and discover with us what to see in Piran in a day!

Piran is a truly picturesque village situated on a rocky promontory Istrian region of Slovenian territory in the small. Tradition holds that it was founded by exiles from Aquileia after the destruction of the Roman city by the Hun king Attila. However, during our visit, we discovered that the area was likely inhabited for many centuries, though not by a very large community. Its true urban development occurred when it politically joined Venice in 1283, bringing wealth and importance to the Istrian region. Thanks to trade with the Serenissima and the exploitation of nearby salt pans, the village adorned itself with elegant palaces that we still admire today.

Even after the fall of the Republic of Venice, the connection with Italy remained strong despite the transition to the Habsburg Empire. For a brief period after World War I, it came under the Kingdom of Italy, but this lasted a short time. The defeat of Italy in World War II and the subsequent transfer of Istria to Yugoslavia were dramatic; in fact, its population was largely Italian. After 1954, almost the entire Italian population was forced into exile by the Yugoslav government and replaced by Slavic populations. The few Italians who remained kept their language and traditions alive, despite the regime’s attempt to erase them. This allowed, many years later, with the birth of the Slovenian state, for Italian to be recognized as an official language in Slovenian Istria.

What to See in Piran in a Day: The Harbor and Tartini Square

Our itinerary to discover what to see in Piran in a day begins by strolling along the harbor; here, you may encounter fishermen busy emptying nets or negotiating with chefs from waterfront restaurants.

From here, you’ll be drawn to the bright light emanating from Tartini Square, the elegant heart of Piran. At the center of this elliptical square in white stone stands a statue dedicated to the famous violinist Giuseppe Tartini, born in the Istrian village. Beautiful palaces, reminiscent of Venetian dominance in style and beauty, surround the square; among them, the Venetian House with its beautiful Gothic-style windows from the 15th century is unmistakable. On one of the walls, I also noticed the inscription in Venetian, “lassa pur dir” (let them talk); it seems that it was wanted by the Venetian merchant who built the house to host his lover!

What to see in Piran - Tartini Square - Piran - Piran Town Hall - Venetian House - Bell tower of the Cathedral of San Giorgio
View of Tartini Square with the Town Hall and in the background the Venetian House and the Bell Tower of the Cathedral of San Giorgio (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

A few steps away is the Town Hall, a classical-style building with an imposing winged lion, the symbol of the Serenissima, at its center. Around the square, you’ll also see the beautiful Apollonio Palace and the Baroque House, both clear examples of Piran’s ambition to emulate the elegant baroque palaces so fashionable in 17th-century Venice.

What to See in Piran in a Day: St. George’s Cathedral and Medieval Walls

Looking up, you can’t miss the tall bell tower of St. George’s Cathedral; you’ll immediately notice its resemblance to the bell tower of St. Mark’s in Venice, clearly the inspiration for the designers. To reach it, you can choose to climb directly or wander through narrow alleys, immersing yourself in the charming atmosphere of Piran. Once at the foot of the bell tower, we encourage you not to be discouraged by the steps and climb to the bell cell. From here, you’ll have a breathtaking panorama of the entire village and, on clear days, a good part of the Istrian coast (watch the video!).

The rest of the complex includes the Church and the Baptistery. The first was consecrated in the 14th century and restored in Baroque style in the 17th century. Its interior, characterized by a richly decorated coffered ceiling, houses some valuable works, including two relief statues depicting St. George and some paintings from the Venetian school. The Baptistery, on the other hand, has an octagonal shape and is adorned with a large wooden crucifix and a Roman sarcophagus transformed into a baptismal font.

What to see in Piran- Piran Cathedral- Piran- St. George's Cathedral- Interior
Interior of the Cathedral of San Giorgio (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

A few steps from the Baptistery, you’ll also notice a small section (one of the many in Piran) of the walls that once surrounded the entire settlement. They were mentioned as early as the 7th century and were gradually expanded as the settlement grew. If you’re interested and have time, we suggest heading to see the walls on Mogorone Hill, behind the village (near the stadium). In addition to being the best-preserved, you can enjoy a beautiful panorama from there.

What to See in Piran in a Day: The Punta District

Our itinerary to discover what to see in Piran in a day continues in the Punta District, built on the promontory. Here, you’ll immerse yourself again in a suggestive atmosphere of narrow, colorful streets, animated by the daily life of the locals.

The Convent of St. Francis

A bit hidden but well marked, you’ll come across the Convent of St. Francis, founded by the Franciscan friars in 1301. The beautiful cloister, almost blindingly white and known for its almost perfect acoustics, often hosts important musical events. Walking under its portico, you can enjoy the silence interrupted only by the sound of shoes on the pavement—a truly unique sensation!

What to see in Piran- Cloister Convent of San Francesco- Piran- Columns- Bell Tower
Cloister of the Convent of San Francesco (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

The adjacent church adheres to the simplicity of the Franciscan order, although donations from Piran’s wealthier families have adorned it with very interesting works. It houses important masterpieces such as the oval of Christ and the Samaritan by Gregorio Lazzarini, along with other works by Venetian artists. The convent also hosts a small art gallery where other works from the Venetian school that couldn’t be displayed in the church are exhibited.

May 1st Square

A few meters from the convent, you’ll find the square that has been the center of life in Piran for centuries: May 1st Square. Also known as Old Square, it’s a true monument square. In the center, you’ll immediately notice a large structure in white stone with a well at its center. It is a massive cistern built in the 18th century after a prolonged drought to ensure the village didn’t run out of water again. The collected water, purified, was then pumped to the surface using a manual pump that is still present. To oversee the proper use of water, the Piranese had statues of Justice and Vigilance sculpted, which still dominate the entrance of the square today.

 Piran- First May Square- Old Square- Statues- Justice- Surveillance
First May Square

What to See in Piran in a Day: The Promenade

The last stop of our itinerary through the alleys of Piran, actually takes place outside, on the promenade. You may have already spotted it at the beginning when you walked along the harbor. Here, accompanied by a gentle breeze, you can walk peacefully and, if the temperature allows, even take a dip. There are no beaches in this stretch, but if you love deep-sea swimming, you won’t have trouble diving in! If you want to taste local cuisine, you’ll find reasonably priced restaurants here.

Along the shore, almost at the tip of the promontory, you’ll encounter the Church of Our Lady of Health; its distinctive circular bell tower almost looks like a watchtower. The church was dedicated in the 18th century to the Madonna, who saved Istria from a plague epidemic. Previously, it was dedicated to St. Clement, the patron saint of fishermen.

Piran-Seafront- Benches- Church of the Madonna della Salute- Round bell tower
Piran seafront and Church of Our Lady of Health (Credit to Matteo Marongiu)

Piran, an Ecological Village

During our visit to the village of Piran, we were pleasantly surprised by the administration’s commitment to eco-friendly tourism. Firstly, we noticed the almost complete absence of cars in the historic center, allowing visitors to enjoy the atmosphere to the fullest. This is due to the obligation for non-residents to park in specific areas outside the urban center. For those who don’t want to take a short and pleasant walk along the Bay of Piran, there’s a convenient free shuttle that drops off at Tartini Square.

Furthermore, another pleasant discovery we made while preparing for the visit was finding out that the village of Piran is participating in the Eco-Town project. This project aims to revitalize, improve, and preserve the natural environment and biodiversity of the area through public actions and citizen education. We hope that other cities take Piran as an example and commit to environmental conservation!

Now that you know what to see in Piran in a day, be sure to include it in your itinerary for exploring Slovenia!

If you want to stay in Piran at the best accommodations and prices, click here.

Seguici sui Social

Article Name
What to see in Piran
"Planning a Slovenian getaway? Explore what to see in Piran in a day! Discover the charm of this Istrian village with us."
Publisher Name
La Scimmia Viaggiatrice