Rovinj (Rovigno) – Venetian fortress on the Istrian coast

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Roman Ruvinium

Long before the Romans conquered Istria, around the 7th century BC, there was already a settlement founded by the Illyrians or Venets tribes in the place of modern Rovinj. After seizing the settlement in 129 BC the Romans built a port on the island, which they called Arupinium or Mons Rubineus. Over time, its name changed to Ruginium, and finally Ruvinium.

Rovinj (Rovigno) at night
Rovinj at night

After the fall of the Roman Empire, Ruvinium was incorporated into Byzantium, and then its history went similar to that of the nearby Parenzo (Poreč).

Rovigno – one of the most important Venetian cities on the Istrian coast

After subsequent changes of rulers, destruction by Saracens and pirates in the 9th and 10th centuries, finally better times came. From 1283 to 1797, Rovigno was part of the Republic of Venice.

Roman Ruvinium and Venetian fortress
Balbi’s Arch, which stands on the site of the old town gate

As one of the most important Venetian cities in Istria, Rovigno was significantly fortified. The city was surrounded by double walls with three city gates. One of them, called Balbi’s Arch, dating from 1680, still stands today, giving the impression of being squeezed tightly between the surrounding tenement houses. Near the Balbi Arch there is another characteristic remnant of the Venetian times, the late-Renaissance clock tower.

In 1763, the channel separating the island from the coast was filled. Rovigno was connected to the mainland.

Church of St. Euphemia
Church of St. Euphemia
Rovigno within Yugoslavia, changing the city name to Rovinj

After the end of World War II, Rovigno, like other Istrian cities, found itself within Yugoslavia. Its name was changed to Rovinj. According to the last census of 1911, Rovigno was inhabited by 97.8% of the Italian population, but after changing borders, most of the Italians left the city. Currently, both city names are officially recognized.

Port on the Adriatic coast

Contemporary Rovinj is an incredibly colorful city. Its Italian character and charm attracts crowds of people. Additionaly those ubiquitous, fragrant, lavender shops and stalls, full of lavender souvenirs…

Winding streets and alleys lead to the top of the island, to the Church of St. Euphemia, whose belfry udeboubtedly brings to mind the Campanile of St. Mark in Venice on which it was modeled. 🙂 The crowded marina reminds us that despite the countless number of tourists, Rovinj, or rather Rovigno, is also a fishing port on the northern Adriatic coast.


Photographs of Rovinj (Rovigno)

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Carly BB

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