Novigrad was called Cittanova by the Venetians, who graced the town with most of its elegant historical sights. The Venetian-style campanile beside St Pelagius, a Baroque 18th-century church built on the foundations of a medieval basilica, rises over the modest network of streets. Here in the main square, Veliki trg, and the main street of Velika ulica, stands a landmark Venetian loggia, containing the Town Hall. North of town at Karpinjan, near the new marina, is the Rigo Palace, built in 1760. As well as new exhibitions, it has a permanent display of historic items.
Great things to do in Novigrad...
Istria’s first purpose-built museum is a first-class example of how to successfully site modern glass-cube architecture within the context of an old town. Designed by award-winning architectural duo Rendić and Turato, the Lapidarium was built to house Novigrad’s small but impressive collection of archeological remains – mostly Romanesque stonework from medieval Istrian churches, although there is the odd Roman-era piece here as well. The Romanesque pieces are stunning, featuring delicately carved intertwining patterns, familiar Christian symbols, and an array of animals and mythical beasts.
Around the corner from the city harbour, Gallerion is dedicated to the Austro-Hungarian presence in the Adriatic 1815-1918, history from a non-Croatian point of view. The two-storey display is filled with explanations of battles, model ships, uniforms and weapons. The well-crafted exhibits attempt to outline the area’s nautical tradition in as objective a way as a town on the sea can. The curator is an expert and adroit in multiple languages.
A 15 minute drive from Novigrad and famous for discovering more than 1,400 minor planets over the last decade, Višnjan is one of the world’s most prolific astronomical discovery sites. In 2009 the Višnjan team opened a brand-new observatory in the nearby village of Tican, housing a one-metre telescope. The Višnjan Observatory is also actively involved in educational projects, run by students and volunteers, organising workshops and seminars.