We only see how small of a country Croatia is when we look at it on the world map. Only a tiny, coloured piece on the map is a small piece of land where there are many cultural, natural, geographical and gastronomic attractions, which today’s travellers deem extremely important when they are getting to know a country.
Today there are brands that recognise Croatia beyond the borders, but some of its beauties and interests are still not well known. One of these Croatian and Istrian Pearls is the centre of Istria and the city of Hum / the smallest city in the world. The city deserved this title and confirmed it by numerous institutions and created its tourist and cultural brand from it.
Hum is located in the central part of Istria, fifteen kilometres from Buzet. About fifty kilometres from Rijeka. You can reach Hum by car, bus or bicycle – the way you like it most. There are only 30 inhabitants in this picturesque town, but it has all the city’s institutions as any other “big city”. Hum has an election by the county presidency, who will be titular for a year, and the election is done in accordance with old customs – the number of votes is crammed into “raboš” – a regular wooden stick that remains a permanent record.
Hum is a fairytale city that returns from the past
The city is surrounded by stone walls in which there are only two streets. The houses and portals, the sterile and stone streets of the streets invoke past days, people and customs. Within the walls is the parish church of Mary’s Assumption, as well as St. Jerome’s church that dates back to the 12th century. This church is special in its frescoes and Glagolitic inscriptions. The master responsible for the specific interior of the church is Master Antun from Padua, who left his mark and stamped the seal. One of the Istrian Pearls.
The Glagolitic gives a seal to Hum.
The Old Slavonic Glagolitic letter was created in the middle of the 9th century and remained in Croatian regions until the 19th century.
Byzantine monk from Solun, Cyril, compiled and adapted this letter primarily for translating and writing ecclesiastical books. The 16th century Glagolitic is suppressed by Latin, and records like those in Hum testify to its existence and importance. It is important to mention that the Latin letters was only adapted to the Croatian language in the 19th century, while the Glagolitic and Old Slavic languages had allowed much earlier writing and reading in accordance with the language itself.
One of the most famous attractions of Hum is Aleja Glagoljaša. This alley has become a cultural and tourist landmark, by which one can recognise not only Hum but also the whole of Istria. The alley is made by eleven stone monuments set in honour of the Glagolitic.
This alley has become a cultural and tourist landmark, by which one can recognise not only Hum but also the whole of Istria.
The alley stretches between the towns of Roč and Hum, and also touches the Istrian Pearls of continental Istria: the village of Kotle. Kotle or Kotli is a beautiful, old and almost completely abandoned village through which the river Mirna flows and creates waterfalls just in Kotli.
In old days there were two watermills in the village, one of which was restored recently today. Accidental passengers, but also those who come on purpose, often stay in Kotli because of the beautiful nature and the atmosphere that it brings. It is nice to sit on the terrace of the tavern – the only one in the village and enjoy the peace and the sounds of the river.
The Roč-Hum area was the centre of Croatian Glagoliticism in Istria
It is a 7 km long track with 10 stone features, beginning at the Stup čakavskog sabora, and ending at the copper gate of the city of Hum. The alley was designed by the academician Josip Bratulić and was set by the sculptor Želimir Janeš. Each of the ten features in the alley is a contribution of Croatia to the preservation of the world’s linguistic and cultural heritage.
Istrian Pearls on the plate
With its rich history, beautiful nature and clean sea, Istria is at the same time a good place to eat – especially in terms of the interior or continental part of the Istrian peninsula. Istrians love truffles, produce prosciutto, sausages, wine and brandy. They also like to offer their products to guests.
The area from Roč to Hum, along with its cultural heritage also has its own gastronomic specialities, and after walks, driving or cycling, you can rest and regain your strength in one of the taverns that offer local cuisine and ambience. Treat yourself to some of the goulash, scabies or grouts, with pasta or various types of meat, with good wines and brandy. I recommend eating both sweet crocuses or rafioles stuffed with scallops or at least pancakes. Of course, you should have a biscuit – brandy made from mistletoe, prepared by the traditional, centuries-old recipe.
A refreshed traveller and explorer of the Istrian region can now continue. For example, from the Aleja glagoljaša, go to Motovun, Vižinada and then perhaps Bale.