The small Town Umag (about 13.000 inhabitants) in the northwest of Istria is one of the first cities next to the Slovenian – Croatian border. The region is well known for its Malvazija-wine, which is cultivated in the region. Tennis fans know this place as the scene of the “ATP-Croatian Open” or the “Umag series”. A lot of campsites, sport or other leisure facilities and the crystal clear sea are some of many reasons why this region is a popular destination for tourists!
The glamorous past of Umag begins in the Antique. During these times the Roman nobility discovered the region and developed it as their summer residence. About 1000 year later, the “National Geographic” chose the city as one of 10 best summer destinations in the April issue of 2011!
At the beginning the first human settlement ‘Umacium’ was founded on an island located in front of the mainland. A few years later the Roman connected the island with the mainland and created the peninsula we know today. Accordingly the today’s old town was built on Roman ruins!
The history of Umag is full of changes and very exciting. In the last centuries the town has always been captured and conquered by different disposers and empires. In the middle age the settlement was connected as tenure to the bishopric of Trieste. In the 13th century the town was taken by Venice and from 1797 to 1918 the city was part of Austrian-Hungarian Empire. After the First World War Umag was reigned by Italy again until the town became part of the new state of Yugoslavia after the Second World War. Since these times the region emerged to the economic and touristic centre of the northwestern Istria.
When you take a walk through the little old town with its allies and narrow streets, passing old buildings from Baroque and Renaissance era, you can still feel the Venetian influence on the city. The glamour, glory and prosperity of the old times are alternating with cafés, restaurants and little shops to an exciting symbiosis of past and modern spirit! Umag is welcoming its visitors to stroll through the maze of the historic city center and to enjoy a nice cup of coffee or some ice cream at the seahore afterwards.
People who are interested in culture and education could make a little side trip to the church of St. Roche, built after the plague epidemics in 1507. In the inside you can find an impressive wooden ceiling painted in oil from 18th century. Another nice church is the parish church of Sveta Marija. The baroque façade has never been finished, but the building is especially known for an immured depiction of St. Peregrine from 14th century. Lovers of modern arts will find some small but fine galleries.
Not far away from Umag, there is a small village Savudrija with its legendary lighthouse! Built in 1818, it is both the oldest active and northernmost lighthouse in Croatia. The legend says that the Austrian Earl of Metternich fell in love with a beautiful Croatian lady at the Vienna Opera Ball. In honour of his truelove he built the lighthouse. But then the lady died suddenly, after suffering heavy diseases and she never saw her gift of love. Full of grief the earl nevermore entered the lighthouse again. It is said that the girls’ ghost is still wandering through the building, looking for her lover….
After a city tour, the backlands of Umag are the right place to find peace and recreation. The beautiful hilly landscape is well suited for long hikes or cycling tours. The agriculture dominates the countryside and there is emerging some kind of agro-tourism. A lot of little farms and vineyards are welcoming visitors to enjoy tasting their agricultural products, like wine, olives or truffles!
Umag is an inspiring place with a lot of different facets – it is in many ways a gate to Croatia!
More usefull and interesting information on the Offical Homepage of the Istrian Tourismorganisation, Colours of Istria or Wikipedia!
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