An old legend states that long ago giants lived in the valley of the River Mirna. They were so big that they could, looking at the towns on the hillsides above Mirna, hand each other tools and big rocks. One of the towns that were built by the giants during this legendary time was Motovun. Many years later, when Istria was inhabited by ordinary people, the giants began to disappear. However according to legends and the stories of Vladimir Nazor the noted Motovun giant Veli Jože was so big and strong that he could shake the bell tower of the Motovun church with his bare hands.
Motovun is a town-monument, an ancient Istrian acropolis town located atop a 277 metre high hill, whose present appearance dates back to the Middle Ages, from the 12th and 13th century. Leading to the top of the hill and its Venetian town square is the longest Istrian staircase, with 1052 steps.
From the rich architectural heritage of Motovun especially noteworthy are the city gates with tower, renaissance town palace, town lodge, parish church Saint Stephan, the smaller churches of Madonna dei Servi and Madonna delle porte, the medieval lay outof the streets, town cisterns and many coats of arms on the building facades. The position and vistas of Motovun make it one of the most beautiful towns on the Mediterranean. Hotel “Kaštel” is located on the main town square, in a palace from the 18th century.
Around Motovun lie vineyards from which come the renowned Istrian wines, teran and malvasia, while the Motovun forest, which extends for kilometres along the Mirna valley, is the dwelling place of the famed underground mushrooms, truffles that are extracted in this region with the help of specially trained dogs. Summer and early autumn is the period when black truffles come to fruition, whereas the Istrian white truffles are gathered in late autumn and winter. In the month of October, in numerous places in the Mirna Valley, festivities of “The days of truffles” are held. Dishes made with these truffles are the pride of the Hotel “Kaštel” in Motovun.
Motovun has historically been the most significant inhabited locality in the surrounding area according to recent research by “New Age” scientists. The significance of this town is due to its positioning on the crossroads of the Earth’s energetic meridians that is on the so called “Dragon’s furrow”. These meridians emanate positive Earth life energy into their surroundings and in places where these “furrows” intersect, as in the case of Motovun, strong sources of positive energy appear, they are the “breathing orifices” of the planet Earth. Such energy fields have a relaxing and calming effect on man, increasing his concentration and spirituality, offering rest and rejuvenation, are conducive to meditation and generate creativity and tolerance. This may be the reason why there are so many gatherings and social events attended by people from all over the world in Motovun.
In Motovun, throughout the year, a number of traditional local and international manifestations take place:
“Bacanje roga (throwing of the horn)” – The traditional local games “bacanje roga (throwing of the horn)” is an integral part of Lent that is Lent festivities. On “Ash Wednesday”, the day after Shrove Tuesday, men compete in throwing of wooden bats or “bačuka” as close as possible to the ox horns. It is thrown in a number of stages and “Bacanje roga” the game takes place from the top to the bottom of the Motovun hill.
“Motovun samanj” – The traditional “Motovun samanj”, is an annual local feast day which celebrates the consecration of the Motovun parish church of Saint Stephan, along with numerous festive and cultural programmes it is held on the 2nd of August.
Motovun film festival – The international Motovun film festival which was founded in the year 1999, at the beginning of August gathers here up to twenty thousand film lovers. The Hotel “Kaštel” regularly plays host to festival activities, from accommodation of contestants and guests of the festival to evening festivities and night film showings on the hotel terrace.
Autumn and winter offer Motovun, inhabitants of Motovun and their guests an abundance of nature’s gifts. This is the season when the renowned white truffles are gathered from the Motovun forest and when the bounty from the Motovun vineyards is transformed into the best Istrian wines, teran and malvasia. Throughout the whole month of October, in the whole Mirna valley – in Opatija, the Istrian thermal springs, Gradinje and Motovun – the festivities of the “Days of truffles” are held. During these days it is a special experience tasting dishes made from freshly picked truffles, these noble, tasty aphrodisiac mushrooms, including many other programs. Along with the month long “Days of truffles” festivities, Motovun, in the first weekend in November, plays host to the “Festival of balloons, wine and truffles”, a manifestation whose gastronomic pleasures are enriched with an air of adventure.