Located on a hill above the Mirna river valley (228 meters above the sea level), Grožnjan represents the hill crown. The view from the magnificent scenic overlook situated on the walls stretches all the way to the sea. Town houses are built closely together, creating its medieval atmosphere. The medieval urban complex has remained largely untouched until now. It is a natural base for an intense and interesting life Grožnjan lives today. The last structure was erected in the town 275 years ago. The town as we know it today was developed on a prehistoric settlement which served as a basis for erecting the Roman fort.
-GROŽNJAN was first mentioned in historical texts in 1102 (Istrian marquis Ulrich II and his wife Adelaide donated their Istrian property to the Patriarch of Aquileia).
-In 1238, it was ruled by Vicard I Pietrapelosa.
-In 1277, a number of Slavic families were invited to cultivate the fiefdom’s lands.
-In 1286, Vicard II Pietrapelosa pledged the fort to Patriarch Raymond.
-In 1287, while fighting the Venetinas with the Patriarch, Vicard aligned with his former enemies, and surrended Grožnjan to them. After the war the fort was returned to its previous owners.
-In 1339, Grožnjan was re-established as the patriarch’s property.
-In 1354, Groznjan’s new owner became Volrich, or Ulrich, Reifenberg.
-In 1358, during the decline of feudalism, the town had its own statute.
-In 1358, he sold the fiefdom to Venice for 4000 ducats to pay off his debts.
-In 1356, during the war between Venice and Hungary, Grožnjan resisted the Hungarian army. The town was taken by the Hungarian and Croatian troops led by Mikiza, the son of the Croatian viceroy.
-In 1358, the Venetians conquered Grožnjan and reigned until the decline of Venice in the late 18th century.
-Even before the Venetian purchase of Grožnjan, Slavic families settled the area (during the 14th century), having been invited by German feudal lords.
-In 1359, the Umag captain Pietro Dolfin moved to his seat in Grožnjan. In 1360 and 1367, he renovated the walls and the town palace as well as fortified the town defense. The Captain’s Office moved from Grožnjan to Raspor in 1394.
-In the 15th century, judicial duties in Grožnjan were performed by the Pietrapelosas.
-In 1446, the walls were renovated in order to protect the town from potential Turkish attacks.
-In 1557, the Renaissance loggia was erected. It stands undamaged until the present day = the FONTICUS town gallery Grožnjan.
-In 1558, Grožnjan was the seat of the court as it had its own statute.
-Following the plague epidemics in 1630, Grožnjan became deserted.
-In 1800, Pope Pius VII visited and assigned ‘special powers’ to Grožnjan. The altar, the Church of St. Vid, Modest and Krešencija.
-In 1816, the Austrian emperor Francis I toured Istrian lands purchased after the Napoleon’s defeat. He visited Grožnjan and met with local population.
-In 1902, during the Austrian rule, the Grožnjan area flourished. The building of the Parenzana railroad facilitated the development of trade and agriculture.
-In 1910, the town of Grožnjan had 1,658, and the municipal area 4,028 inhabitants. Grožnjan had a doctor, post office, school, lawyer, notary public, oil-processing plant, bakery, grocery and clothing stores, two butcher shops, several inns and various trade shops: shoemaker, blacksmith, tailor, carpenter…
The fall of the Austrian Empire, the subsequent Italian rule and the Great Depression had significant affected this region as well. In the 1920s, numerous families from Grožnjan started to emigrate, looking for work in the nearest maritime town of Trieste and overseas. After the fall of the Italian fascist regime in 1943, the popular uprising of the Croats, Slovenes and the Italian anti-fascists spread, liberating the area from the German occupation in 1945.
In September 1943, the People’s Liberation Committee adopted in Pazin the proclamation of the Istria’s unity with the Croatian homeland. The Provincial People’s Liberation Committee of Istria confirmed the decision; ZAVNOH and AVNOJ followed.
In 1947, the Peace Treaty with Italy was signed in Paris. Istria was divided between Yugoslavia and the Free Territory of Trieste, consisting of Zone A, controlled by the US Army, and Zone B, controlled by the Yugoslav Army. Grožnjan became a part of Zone B.
On 5 October 1954, the London Memorandum was concluded, assigning Zone A to Italy, and Zone B to the People’s Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In 1975, the Osimo Agreement defined the border between Italy and Yugoslavia, under which Zone B irrevocably became a part of Yugoslavia.
The special provision of the London Memorandum provided for a possibility of opting out which, together with nationalization, confiscation, forced cooperatives, poor agrarian policy (instead of traditional crops such as grapes, olives and fruits, farmers had to grow wheat), severing traditional ties with Koper and Trieste, forced school reform, along with the strong Italian propaganda, contributed to a mass exodus of two thirds of the population who emigrated from the area by April 1956. Only a few families remained in Grožnjan.
Some of Grožnjan’s empty houses were inhabited by people from the surrounding area. In 1965, when the Town of Arts was founded, some houses were given to artists from Croatia, Slovenia and Vojvodina for their use, and some were assigned to the Cultural Centre of the International Music Youth Federation in 1969. Thus Grožnjan, once a town of craftsmen and farmers, became a town of artists.