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Traditional customs and authentic traditions of Istria

Istrian people and customs

Although ones have almost disappeared, the other have become the identity of Croatia's largest peninsula: meet Istria's customs and people!
How often do you explore the culture of living, authentic customs and the tradition of the region you are visiting before heading off for you vacation? Do you like to wander, explore and chat with the local population of the place you are staying in? If so, Istria is the perfect place for your vacation, and you are a welcome guest and traveller in the peaceful Istria. Stay in one of comfortable and tastefully decorated apartments in the coastal part of Istria or in picturesque villas with a pool in small towns characterized by stone architecture situated on hilltops of mainland Iatria.

Istria's people and customs governed by other peoples and cultures
Due to numerous waves of settlement in Istria that have occurred over the centuries, the culture, customs and languages have changed together with state borders. Such historic melting pots have resulted in the special feeling of belonging to Istria as a cultural region. However, what has not changed and what the population of Istria had to adapt to were the geographic location and the climate.

In order to save the scarce fertile land, people of Istria build settlements on barren land, edges of fields, by sink holes or by water. Settlements were clustered next to the coast or hillsides, and buildings were separated by narrow, stone streets. This led to kilometres-long dry stone walls, which still amaze us today.

If you look over Istria's fields, you will find scattered kažuni, small stone field shelters built in dry stone wall, without any binding agents. They are mostly located in the southern and western part of Istria and are its best known symbols. You will also see Istrian hižas, also made of stone, with grouted walls and roofs covered in channel tiles.

Workers' life for the people of Istria
Surrounded by the crystal clear sea, pristine nature, stone and barren land, the people of the small continent have always been predetermined to be fishermen and farmers. Wanting to take advantage of everything offered to them, the people of Istria was a humble shepherd in the hills of Ćićarija, a ploughman of the hard Barban soil, winegrower making world-famous Istrian Malvasia from the red soil and a fisherman mending nets. That is why it is often said that men of Istria are mild-mannered, that they move slowly, have hidden strength, good working ethic and gratitude for the fruits of work because they are aware that life is hard, which is why they may appear reticent and careful in making friends.

The women of Istria have also experienced the hardships of life when they carried the entire household on their back. The brave and self-denying hands of Istrian women worked not only in the kitchen, but were also ready to take on the most difficult tasks.

On rare occasions they broke out in two-voice songs, the so-called Istrian scale, supported by ancient shepherd's instruments – roženice, mih ili duplice. They would also dance the old Balun dance, which Istrians would perform in a simple brown and white cloth garb.

You can find the traditional folk costume and many other artefacts from the lives of the people of Istria on traditional fairs held in every town.