Svetvincenat – Sanvincenti:”Is quite unique in Istria for the presence of the Renaissance architecture“
When you drive with your car from Vodnjan towards Zminj you will note Svetvincenat on your right side. Most of the old towns and villages from the central Istria described in Istria from Smrikve were built on the hilltops and this is not the case of Svetvincenat.
The first inhabitants of Svetvincenat were the Benedictine Monks who built the first houses and the Church of St. Vincent. The church is located on the cemetery and was built in the 11th century. It houses frescoes with Biblical themes with three layers from 13th and 14th century. The middle layers from the 13th century were made by Ognobenus from Treviso with Romanesque character and Byzantine influence, while the most recent layers were made by an Italian master. From the oldest layer only traces remain. As far as its size is concerned this is the largest cycle of Romanesque frescoes in Istria and also the church is among the oldest buildings in Istria.
When you enter with the car in the village, from the northern part, the first building that will impress you are the walls and the round towers of Morosini – Grimani castle. There is a big green field square in front of it and you can leave your car in this area under the trees and start your visit.
If you are looking towards the castle, in this street parallel with the castle, on your left side there is Church of St. Rock from the 17th century. On the opposite side of the square, on the right side of the square, there is a street that goes towards the cemetery where the Church of St. Vincent is located.
The most important and representative building is Morosini - Grimani castle. It dates back to the 13th century and is the symbol of the town.
The first owners were the Bishops from Porec and later on the Sergi or Castropola family from Pula, followed by Morosini family in the 14th century. The Castle was almost destroyed in 1329 and Francesco Morosini rebuilt it at the beginning of the 16th century.
Later on the owners were Venetian patrician family, Grimani from San Luca. Two brothers Grimani married two sisters Morosini in 1560.
The Castle assumed its current appearance in 1589 when the Grimani family renewed it following a fire devastation. The architects of the project were Scamozzi and Campagna. A second time the Castle suffered a fire devastation in 1943.
The Castle was built as a rectangular fortress and has two round towers, impressive over ten meters high walls, and two rectangular towers. In reality the fourth tower hosted the accommodation of the Noble family. The smaller rectangular tower with the clock hosted the prison.
The accommodation tower with five floors has still a very nice balcony on the main façade and also the gate of the castle is nice with Grimani family coat of arms and Svetvincenat coat of arms above it. There are also the inscriptions of the year 1485 when this gate was made and the year 1589 when the Castle was restructured.
One round tower was named guardian tower and the other round tower the pigeons’ tower. At the time pigeons were used like e-mails of today.
This castle is one of the best preserved in Istria. It was able to host 200 soldiers and in its interior it also had “fondaco”, a granary storage house, munitions storage building and stable.
Another beauty that you will note, is the Renaissance square in the centre of the town where the castle gate is located. The square is really interesting both for the buildings and quite huge proportions that were maintained in creating the square.
The northern part is closed by the main façade and the entrance gate of Morosini – Grimani castle.