Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Piran (Pirano)

Piran is a small walled town (population +-5,000) in Slovenia occupying a promontory on the Adriatic coast southwest of Trieste, Italy. Situated at the tip of a scenic peninsula, the town looks thoroughly Italian, with medieval, Renaissance and neoclassical architecture. The photograph shown in this blog's title box is of Piran. Narrow streets and centuries-old buildings give the town its special charm. Most of Piran is a pedestrian area; in 2008 the main square was remodeled to eliminate automobile traffic and parking.

Piran is one of Slovenia's major tourist attractions, and along with the towns of Koper, Izola and Porotorož, forms the principal coast area of Slovene Istria. The municipality is bilingual, and both Slovene and Italian are official languages; the Italian name for Piran is Pirano.

Piran is the birthplace of noted Baroque composer and violinist Giuseppi Tartini (b. 1692). In 1892 the city erected a large-than-life statue of Tartini, which is placed on a pedestal at one end of a large polished marble oval that forms the main area of the town square, Tartinjef Trg (Italian: Piazza Tartini). Prior to that time this area was a protected inner harbor, but sediment and stagnation led to its being filled in.

High above Tartinjef Trg is Saint George's Cathedral, from which expansive views can be enjoyed. A separate octagonal baptistry and clock-faced campanile share the cathedral grounds (see photo below).

Standing at the tip of Piran's peninsula, in the vicinity of the church of St. Clement, it is possible to see the Italian Alps, the Gulf of Trieste and the Croatian coast, all in one sweep. The photo below shows the Italian Alps across the Gulf of Trieste, as viewed from atop the old city walls. The church in the foreground is St. George's Cathedral.


Tartini's statue can be seen in the lower right of this photo:
The view of Piran's harbor as seen on the walk into town from the municipal parking lot (a free shuttle bus is also available).

The ancient crenelated walls protected the town from an attack by land. The coast of Croatia is seen in the distance in the first photograph below.

The cobbled pedestrian-only streets and arched passageways are stage-set picturesque. Venetian Renaissance architecture on Tartinjef Trg:

Piran's streets were built intentionally narrow for protection from the wind and rain, since the town is built along a slender peninsula.

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