Žminj Travel Guide

Tower of Žminj

The hill which today hosts Žminj was settled as early as in the prehistory. However, the oval layout of the medieval settlement nucleus does not originate from the prehistoric hillfort. The circular layout of Illyric defended settlements was located on the hilltop, which corresponds to the highest elevation of Žminj around Kaštel (the Castle).

Road to the Castle (Fortica)

The historic centre of medieval Žminj has preserved all the characteristics of an early-Croatian medieval fortified town. According to some authors Žminj was opened on all sides and, apart from the fortification near the Church, it was unprotected. However, Petronius’ drawing shows the central fortification and an oval plan with towers and gates. Žminj was encircled with four towers, which made it a strong military fortress. The remains of the walls are today incorporated into the walls of houses and fences. No information about when the defence fort, the castle, locally known as ‘Fortica’, was built can be found today.

Church of Saint Michael
Adoration of Shepherds (1690)

The south-eastern round tower (dating from the 15th c.) of the feudal castle has been preserved to date. The castle also embraced the Parish Church of St. Michael the Archangel.

According to Tommasini’s information from the 17th century, there were 24 churches in the area. The largest church in Žminj is the Parish Church. The old structure was situated in the centre of the fortification, the so called Kaštel (Castle), of which only the south-eastern round tower and the restored south wing have been preserved to date.

The construction of today’s church is witnessed by numerous inscriptions on the arcade arches which separate the nave from the lateral chapels and on the front façade. According to the inscriptions preserved on the arches of the arcade, we can describe various extensions and reconstructions made between the 16th and 18th centuries with great certainty.

The Church is embellished with Baroque altars of typical artisan character and workmanship, without much particular artistic value. Among these, worth mentioning is the large altar in the main apse built in 1706 under the care of the Žminj Parish priest and Canon Sante Rovis.

Pulpit
18th century pulpit

The High Altar features the painting of Mary Mother of God with Saints by Z. Ventura (17th c.), a rustically carved statue of the Mother with Child from 1708, a wooden cut Adoration of Shepherds (1690) and a Gothic Crucifix (second half of the 14th century). The Sacristy holds a collection of mass vestments dating from the 16th and 18th centuries and sacred vessels dating back into the 15th century.

On the wall west of the Altar is the baptismal font constructed in 1710.

The pulpit situated in the central nave is one of the greatest accomplishments of the 18th century Istrian Baroque. Next to the entrance door is the organ made in 1906 by the Župan brothers from Koper.

Church of Holy Trinity

Next to the north-western corner of the Church of Saint Michael there is a Gothic Chapel of the Holy Trinity. The chapel was painted with Gothic-style frescos in 1471 by an unknown master of the Alpine region. The frescoes represent scenes from the life of Christ, and were discovered after the First World War.

Chakavian House

About the Library

 

Library of Žminj

The Žminj library was opened in 2002 after several years of efforts from the activists of the ‘Čakavski Sabor’ cultural association and the inhabitants whose concrete initiatives relate to the year 1997 when the ‘Čakavski Sabor’ moved its seat to Žminj.

At the same time the Committee for the establishment of the library was also formed, i.e. the establishment of the Chakavian House, chaired by Dr. Slavko Krajcar, who in cooperation with

View of the historic centre of the town

the Municipality Council, the Istrian County, the Ministry of Culture and the City Library and Reading Room of Pula, brought this work to the end. The Library works within the framework of the City Library and Reading Room of Pula, it is computerized, has 320 members and its inventory counts 5,378 volumes. The peculiarity of this institution is the “Čakaviana”, a collection of publications in the Chakavian cultural area. The Library in Žminj is a small cultural centre of the Municipality of Žminj and a meeting place for book lovers.
The road from the Saint Michael Church to the south, towards the cemetery and the Church of the Holy Cross, leads through a part of the old town which the citizens of Žminj call ‘Štrada’

Church of the Holy Cross at the Cemetery

The Church of the Holy Cross was built not later than in the 17th century. It is most probably a medieval building which experienced multiple conversions. The church was completely refurbished in 1964. On the northern side of the church there is an ossuary whose front façade bears a small bell-gable built in the Baroque style.

Church of Saint Anthony

Going down from the Saint Micheal Church to the west, we come to the Chapel of Saint Anthony the Abbot. It was built in 1381 by Master Armirigus and painted with frescoes by the masters of the Venetian circle.

Calvary

The oldest part is to the south of the apse, which existed even before the restoration of the medieval church. The profile of its Romanesque-styled ribbed vault is unusual for Renaissance buildings of the 16th century.

The interior is very spacious and solemn. Of the Baroque altars in the Church, the large High Altar in the main apse stands out. The Altar columns were built from the stone that was quarried in Gradišće.

This altar was commissioned by the Žminj Canon and Parish Priest Sante Rovis in 1706. Worth mentioning is the baptismal font built in 1710. The inscription on the font is: FONS VITAE AETERNAE AN(n) O D(omi)NI MDCCX.

The frescoes depict motifs from the legend of St. Anthony the Abbot and the life of Christ.

West of Žminj there is the Church of Saint Bartholomew with its 17th century wooden altar.

Church of Saint Fosca

From the main road leading north to Pazin and south to Pula, one can see the Calvary (Golgotha), which represents the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ according to the New Testament.

Church of Saint Fosca

It is located 1.5 km east of Žminj. The rectangular sanctuary was built in 1729 during the administration of Gastald (church estate administrator) Marin Damijanić and thanks to the care of Sante Rovis, Žminj Parish Priest. Evidence of this fact is provided by an inscription in the apse wall above the entrance to the former sacristy.

Stone symbols near the Church ‘od Svetomora’

The inscription above the round window on the front façade mentions works performed in 1743 during the administration of the church estate by Jakov Ravnić and commissioned by Canon Florijan, Parish Priest in Žminj. The bell tower on the front is not structurally connected to the church wall. This bell tower was built in 1742 and 1743 by Mate Dvojčić.

To the south of the church once stood a porch, which was completely demolished after the Second World War. The location and design of the openings indicate that the porch can be dated into the mid-17th century.

Church of Saint Mary ‘od Svetomora’

About 3.5 km south of Žminj is the Church of Saint Mary ‘od Svetomora’ (probably derived from Sveta Marija or Santa Maria Maggiore – Saint Mary Major). Only the bottom sections of the perimeter walls and the apse with a rounded window of the 12th c. church have been preserved. The year 1666 was engraved on the sill of the north window.

The church was most probably reconstructed that year.

It is also probable that the porch with caryatids bearing the roof was built the same year.

The Baroque-styled caryatids were built by a local sculptor. In total there are 8 figures, mainly angel caryatids, two on each side of the lateral entrances. The altar in front of the apse dates from the 18th century.

The present church name ‘Svetomore’ is derived from the older name ‘Stumoran’ which is still preserved in the villages around the church.