The history of a place that provided refuge to members of the early tribal communities, a town that a hundred years before the discovery of America passed the Liberal and Progressive Code, which was the economic and administrative seat of the whole region as far as the eye could see from its bell towers – it is a story of a hundred chapters of which perhaps the most exciting are yet to come for future generations to tell.
This story is not written (only) in books. Even in the stone of the city walls, the leaves of the Kastava forests and the colorful legends that are passed down from generation to generation.
Its beginning goes back to prehistoric times, when the caves of this area were used as shelter by Paleolithic hunters, leaving rare but valuable archaeological findings to future generations.
The 365-metre-high hill which today provides a beautiful view of the entire Kvarner, once assured the former inhabitants of this area an excellent strategic position. Consequently, this hill was guarded by a strong fortress even a thousand years before Christ.
A mighty town was built on its foundations in the Middle Ages, the core of which was once surrounded by a wall with nine towers.
Much of that historical architectural heritage is preserved even today, forming a unique tourist attraction.
Over its thousand year history, numerous cultures have left their mark there. From the Japods to the Romans, Ostrogoths, Greeks and Lombards all the way to the Slavs who arrived in the 7th century to establish a town over time in that place on a hill.
From the Japods to the Romans, Ostrogoths, Greeks and Lombards all the way to the Slavs who arrived in the 7th century to establish a town over time in that place on a hill.
Kastav is also unique for the fact that it has maintained its status as a town practically throughout its history, until today.
From 1400. The Kastav Code, a list of decrees that is considered one of the key medieval legal documents in Croatia. the original has not been preserved, but it is presumed to have been written in Glagolitic, in the Chakavian dialect.
Today it provides an irreplaceable insight into the everyday life of Kastav men and women of the time. It is an authentic confirmation of the long tradition of the most famous Kastav event, that is. the Bela nedeja fair, which has been held on the first weekend of October since the 15th century, when it was written in the chapters of the Code.
Thanks to well-preserved historical monuments, it is not difficult to imagine what life in Kastav looked like in the Middle Ages.
Even today, the old town core is entered through Voltica, the preserved town gate, Lokvina Square looks almost as it did when the people of Kastav drowned Captain Morelli on it, as well as the town castle from which the whole Kastav region was ruled.
In front of Voltica, the town Loggia stands proudly in which important decisions were taken, slightly lower down is the votive church of St. Fabian and St. Sebastian, which protected Kastav from plague and disease whilst the most famous Kastav monument is Crekvina, located in the heart of the town, today one of the most beautiful summer stages in Kvarner.
Over the centuries, Kastav has changed various administrations. It was under the rule of the Dukes of Duino, then the Austrian nobles, the Habsburg imperial family itself, the Jesuit order, the French Emperor Napoleon and many others.
However, despite its foreign administrations – and perhaps more precisely because of them – this town was one of the centres of the Croatian people’s movement.
In 1770 uring the reign of Captain Juraj Vlah, a regular primary school – the Boys’ Elementary School was opened in Kastav, sincee at that time only boys were able to attend it. Almost a century later, the Craftsmen’s School was opened, which proves the existence of education for more than two and a half centuries.
And in 1866, the first Croatian reading room in Istria was founded – the Kastav Reading Room.
Consequently the foundations for education and culture were laid, which later greatly influenced the further development of the Kastav region, especially that in culture and education.
The twentieth century left painful traces all over the world and the Kastav region was not spared being divided by the state border between the former Yugoslavia and Italy between the wars.
This division has been gone for a long time and Kastav has become an independent town, but these traces can still be found in some places.
One of them is a border guards house located right next to the path in the Kastav forest or border stones in different locations around the town.
Thousands of years have passed in the blink of an eye, but their legacy is not fading whilst the story of Kastav is becoming more and more interesting with each reading.
It is a story you have to experience by walking through Lokvina Square from where the rebellious shouts of Kastav inhabitants once echoed, listen to the magnificent open-air concerts over Crekvina, experience the taste of Belica, the indigenous coupage which no Bela nedeja has been organised without for more than 600 years.
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