The town of Labin
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  Posted July 4th, 2015 by Zdenko  in Travel | No comments yet.

Travel Croatia

By: Zdenko Kahlina

Labin small town in Istria.
Labin is a small town in Istria, Croatia, population of only 10,000 (2005) with 17,000 in the municipality (which also includes small towns of Rabac and Vinež, as well as a number of smaller villages, such as Crni).

labinizzrakafvalamarEvery time we visit Croatia during our holidays, we always stop in Labin to visit our relatives who live there. This is a beautiful picturesque town with friendly people and lots to see and good food to taste.

gastro-2-sparugeIf you visit Istria and if you are a real gourmand, let your host guide you through the specialties of traditional food. If you arrived in Istria in spring, taste asparagus, exceptionally healthy, prepared in many different ways. In summer time they prefer eating light food and rich marine deliciousness – fish, crabs, shellfish…

The everyday meal is more “modest”. If there is some sauerkrauts left from the banquet day, it is used for cooking jota the following day.  Various Istrian minestrones with beans, sweet corn (called “bobici”), “ustupana”, fennel… were a perfect regalement, especially in winter. Our old people grew on polenta, “pljukanci” (a kind of pasta) and gnocchi. One of the best traditional foods here is  “maneštra”. Children don’t always adore it because is very healthy and made from lots of fresh vegetables. Ask your host how to prepare it. We are sure you will take the recipe home.

labin107xe0The medieval town of Labin is situated on a 320 meters high hill above Rabac and only three kilometers from the seaside. Its old name of Albona was first mentioned in 285 AD. The birthplace of Matthias Flacius Illyricus, the reformer and collaborator of Martin Luther, it is a cultural and administrative center today. The rich cultural and architectural heritage of Labin is enlivened by number of art ateliers and by the bustling youth gathering in the coffee bars scattered around the old town.

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labinpogledi03ef8Labin was inhabited already two thousand years B.G. The remnants of Kunci, one of the settlements called the ‘castellums’, dating from the Bronze Age, can be found in the vicinity of Labin. Its old Illyrian-Celtic name is Albona or Alvona and it was probably founded by Celts in the 4th century B.C. on the ruins of the ancient city. Some historians say it was fortified by the Illyrians in the 11th century B.C. They also say that Albona in the Celtic language means ‘a town on the hill’ or ‘an elevated settlement’.

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labintrgvalamarTitus Livius said that Labin inhabitants were pirates. After the conflicts between the local inhabitants and Romans, which had started in the 3rd century B.C., Istra came under the Romans in 177 B.C. The borderline was the river Rasa. Labin and its surroundings thus became an integral part of Illyrian, the Roman province with a high degree of independence and authority over the nearby settlements. The oldest written document about Labin is a relief from the 3rd century with the insertion ‘RES PUBLICA ALBONESSIUM’.

labinvlacic201to8The Sculpture Park in nearby Dubrova features over 70 forma viva stone sculptures. After a walk through the narrow streets of the Old Town, pay a visit to the Town Museum with its archaeological and unique in this part of Europe, a miniature coal mine.
Have a loot at the Memorial collection of Matthias Flacius Illyricus, peek into the art ateliers, enjoy the view of Rabac and Cres island from the Fortica or pop into the small, elegant shops and take refreshments on one of the terraces of the local coffee bars. Whether to do business or just to have a chat, these are the places where everyone meets.

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Sightseeing in Labin
A gritty coal-mining industry seems incongruous with Labin’s quaintly restored pastel houses. Yet, mining was pursued with such fervour that the hilltop town began to collapse some 40 years ago. Fully repaired, the town now honors its mining past in the Town Museum, which contains a model of the former working coal mine. In the tunnels, you’ll find coal mining paraphernalia that transports you back to the booming mining era. Spend a few minutes in the claustrophobic tunnels and you’ll find myriad reasons not to be a coal miner. The rest of the town is a fascinating locale to explore, displaying a mixture of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture in a number of Venetian palaces and churches. Climb up the winding narrow streets to the fortress, Fortica, on top of the town for a panoramic view of rocky Cres Island and the resort of Rabac, three kilometers below.

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Serbus i najte kaj zameriti.

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