City of Motovun

Date of Submission: 29/01/2007
Criteria: (ii)(iv)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Ministry of Culture
State, Province or Region:
Istria County
Coordinates: N45 20 E13 50
Ref.: 5104
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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party

Description

The City of Motovun is located in central Istria, on an elevation that dominates over the valley of the Mirna River. It developed on the site of a prehistoric hillfort.

During the middle Ages it changed various feudal masters and had a degree of city autonomy. In the period 1278-1797 it was continuously under Venetian rule.

Following the configuration of the soil the settlement consists of three main parts separated by fortifications. The oldest oval centre, situated on a hill plateau is encircled by well preserved town walls from the 13 th 14 th centuries fortified on the inner side by a series of peakedarch niches. Square towers are located in dominant positions the centre of the settlement is entered through an inner city gate with early Gothic features from the 14 th century. Stone coat-of-arms of the city's administration and St. Mark's lion are over the entrance gate.

At the entrance to the city centre there is an external square where three streets intersect. The square is situated like a belvedere above the former defence tower. A municipal loggia from the 16 th century is located at the very edge of the square. The loggia was built as a belvedere from which the Mirna river valley could be viewed. The eastern façade of the external square is occupied by a large municipal palace whose walls are adorned with the remains of Romanesque double windows from the 13 th century. In the centre of the town is a spacious main square with a city bell-tower - with a jagged parapet of RomanesqueGothic features from the 13 th and 14 th centuries on the top. A large municipal water storage tank with two stone gorges from the 14 th and 15 th centuries bearing the municipal coatof arms is located under the entire square.

The parish church of St. Stephen is a large early baroque structure in the late Palladian style. Stone statues by the Venetian sculptor Francesco Bonazzo from the 18 th century and a painting of the Last Supper attributed to Stephano Celestio are in the church. The church ceiling was painted by the Venetian late baroque painter Guiseppe Bernardino Bisson. The elaborate rostrum is a valuable piece of Venetian baroque wood carving. The organs were made by Gaeteno Callido in Venice in the late 18 th century. In addition to numerous silver valuables there is an exceptional reliquary coated in leather with applications in the form of paintings under crystal from the 14 th century and a silver movable triptych alter from the late 14 th century in the treasury. In the church of St Mary of the Gate there is a small wooden Renaissance goldplated alter retable, the work of the Venetian carver Paolo Camsa from the mid 16 th century.

The lower part of the city is located on the southern slope directly at the base of the great city walls. This part of the city was also encircled by walls of which only a small part remained along with the southern city gate in Gothic style. Among the buildings in the lower part of the city built in the style of 15 th 18 th centuries architecture is a hospice from 1622.

The most recently developed part of the city is the suburb Gradicijol which is located along a street on the eastern elongated ridge of the hill.

New housing projects are being built at the foot the city hill, separately from the historic settlement which preserving thus the vista of an acropolis city plan so characteristic for the central Istria landscape.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

Town planning did not go through substantial transformations in modern times but has preserved all the characteristics of medieval town planning. The historic town forms have been completely preserved in the function of protecting the valuable agricultural environment. One of the city's functions was the supervision and organisation of oak wood exploitation from the large surrounding forests for the needs of Venetian shipbuilding. The valuable Motovun forests could be fully visually controlled from the town fortress as well as the navigation route along the Mirna River leading to the Adriatic Sea.

Comparison with other similar properties

In Europe, particularly in Italy there is a large number of larger or smaller towns of similar geomorphological and town planning typology, but Motovun is specific due to the preservation of original structures that have been impaired to a minimum by contemporary development.