From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Motovun is a village in central Istria, Croatia. The population of the village itself is 531, with a total of 983 residents in the municipality (2001); 442 of the residents have Italian as their mother language. The Parenzaner Bahn, which was a railway that ran from Trieste to Poreč between 1902-1935 passed through the town.
Motovun is a medieval town that grew up on the site of an ancient city called Kastelijer. It is situated on a hill Template:Convert above sea level with houses scattered all over the hill.On the inner walls are several coats-of-arms of different Motovun ruling families and two gravestones of Roman inhabitants (dating from the 1st century).
In the 10th and 11th centuries it belonged to the Bishop of Poreč. From 1278 it was taken over by Venice and surrounded by solid walls which are still intact today, and used as a walkway with unique views over the four corners of Istria. All three parts of the town are connected by a system of internal and external fortifications with towers and city gates containing elements of Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance styles, built between the 14th and 17th centuries. It is a typical example of Venetian colonial architecture.
Parish Church of St. Stephen (Sveti Stjepan)
The late-Renaissance church of St. Stephen was built right at the beginning of the 17th century according to sketches probably designed by the well-known Venetian architect Andrea Palladio (1508-1580). The church contains several works of art: the marble statues of St. Stephen and St. Laurence by Francesco Bonazzo and the 17th-century painting of the Last Supper over the altar by an unknown Venetian artist. The water cisterns in the square in front of the church date from the 14th and 15th centuries.
The municipal palace is the largest secular building in Istria from the Renaissance period.Template:Fact
The forest of Motovun
The river Mirna flows below the hill and on the other side of the river there is the famous Motovun forest, an area of about 10 square kilometres in the valley of the river Mirna, of which 280 hectares (2.8 km2 is specially protected. This area differs completely not only from the nearby forests, but also from those of the entire surrounding karst region because of its wild life, oist soil and rich-with-prized-black-and-white truffles (Tuber magnatum), which grows successfully there. Since this fungus grows underground, it is gathered with the aid of specially trained dogs.
The most common tree in the forest is the English or brown oak (Quercus robur) and it is thus comparable to the Slavonian oak forests. In order to preserve natural conditions for the development of the Motovun forest, the protected area is occasionally flooded, even though the River Mirna is controlled and its entire valley protected from flooding.
The legend of Veli Jože
Motovun is known among today's population of Istria as the city of Veli Jože, the good gentle giant who represents the Croatian people of Istria. The story written by Vladimir Nazor, one of the most important Croatian writers of the 20th century, was a response to the national struggles of the Croats for equality against fascism (1900-1914). The tale is known today throughout Croatia, while the character of Veli Jože (Big Joe) is quite correctly linked with the city.
The city today
Since 1999, Motovun has hosted the international Motovun Film Festival for independent and avant-garde films from the U.S. and Europe.
The biggest current local issue is the battle between foreign developers, who have proposed two 18-hole golf courses and a 500+-bed resort in the valley below the town, extending the existing 9-hole course and some of the local community, who are opposed to the proposals because of objections against the real estate speculation around the project, rejection of 123 building sites for villas in the protected natural environment and concerns about possible damage to their truffles growing on the other side of the river. The community is divided on the issue, as many welcome the development as a year round aid to jobs and local tourist revenues. An environmental impact study has now been completed.
- Motovun was the birthplace of race car driver Mario Andretti and his twin brother Aldo in 1940. The brothers raced hand-crafted wooden cars through the steep streets. After World War II Istria became a part of Croatia, a sovereign constituent unit of Yugoslavia. His family, like many other ethnic Italians, emigrated. They lived in a camp near Lucca from 1948 to 1955. The Andretti family resettled in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, United States.
- Motovun was also the birthplace in 1495 of prominent Renaissance Italian music printer Andrea Antico, famous as the inventor of the first movable wooden types for printing musical scores. He started publishing in Rome in 1510 and after obtaining a patent from Pope Leo X he published polyphonic music and music for organ.