Tours of abandoned buildings, towns and villages have become popular, especially now after the mega-beloved Chernobyl series, when many people would like to visit the Chernobyl Zone in Ukraine. The sites of past disasters, wars, or abandoned cities represent a new kind of tourism. We followed the steps of deserted and abandoned places too, visiting Civita di Bagnoregio in Italy, Fort San Cristóbal in Spain, as well as Estonian abandoned prisons and abandoned churches in Vilnius, Lithuania. In this story, I will guide you to an abandoned and haunted medieval stone town in the middle of Istria. The name of this small city is Dvigrad, also called Duecastelli.
After visiting the exhibition of Istrian frescoes in Pula, I wanted to see the strange works of famous Istrian fresco masters live. The Churches of St. Mary of Lakuć and St. Anthony in Dvigrad came to mind. Even so, Dvigrad has always been a subject of my attention, because it is a really special place. It is located only 15 kilometers from Rovinj and near the town of Kanfanar. Dvigrad is full of dark history but also a lot of mystery, folk tales, and legends - like many other abandoned places. What is very fortunate is that it has been well-preserved until today. Since the beginning of the 2010s, more and more tourists and locals have been visiting it, and so it has become the focus of historians, scientists, and artists.
Dvigrad was built as an Illyrian fort on two hills - Parentino and Moncastello. It received its most significant development in the Middle Ages and later years, until its final abandonment in the 18th century. It is estimated that Dvigrad had about 20 churches and that several thousand people lived in and around it. Today we can see the preserved parts of the squares, the double protective wall, as well as the remains of churches and towers. The city is empty, with not a single detail that indicates that there used to be active living here. There are only stones. As you approach the town, you will see that the walls and the tower dominate the landscape, and you will think that this is a dynamic city. Unfortunately, there has been no one here since the beginning of the 18th century. According to historical records, after several wars between the great empires of the time, the city was hit by the plague and then by malaria. Citizens were slowly dying but also moving away. The end of Dvigrad's existence marks the moment of the relocation of all the holy relics from St. Sophia's Church to Kanfanar, at the beginning of the 18th century.
Dvigrad serves as a perfect filming location. The preserved houses, Romanesque churches, and stone walls are great backdrops for both photography and filming. Let us not forget how the story goes, that Dvigrad is, in fact, a haunted city and that since its foundation, its downfall has been foretold. We may never know that for sure. What we do know is that no one since the 1700s has even tried to settle in this medieval town. It is now the subject of stories and legends, but lately also one of the most photographed places in Istria and Croatia. Visiting Dvigrad itself is like returning to the past, especially since it lacks any details of modernity and modern technologies. And yes, you can reach this haunted and abandoned stone town in the middle of Istria by car or bike from Rovinj, Poreč, Pula or Pazin. Would you dare to visit it?
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