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Koper is a city in southwestern Slovenia, with the other Slovenian coastal towns Ankaran, Izola, Piran, and Portorož, situated along the country's 47-kilometre (29-mile) coastline, in the Istrian Region, approximately five kilometres (3.1 miles) from its border with Italy. Having a unique ecology and biodiversity, it is considered an important national natural resource. The city's Port of Koper is the major contributor to the economy of the eponymous city municipality. With only one percent of Slovenia having a coastline, the influence that the Port of Koper also has on tourism was a factor in Ankaran deciding to leave the municipality in a referendum in 2011 to establish its own. The city is a destination on a number of Mediterranean cruising lines. In 2016, the city expects 65 cruise ship arrivals (for example: Norwegian Spirit, MSC Magnifica, Norwegian Jade, MS Rhapsody of the Seas...) with the season spanning from March to December. Koper is the main urban centre of the Slovenian Istria, with a population of about 25,000.
The city of Koper is officially bilingual, with both Slovene and Italian as official languages. Sights in Koper include the 15th-century Praetorian Palace and Loggia in Venetian Gothic style, the 12th-century Carmine Rotunda church, and the Cathedral of St Nazarius, with its 14th-century tower.
Koper is also one of the main road entry points into Slovenia from Italy, which lies to the north of the municipality. The main motorway crossing is at Spodnje Škofije to the north of the city of Koper. The motorway continues into Rabuiese and Trieste. Koper also has a rail connection with the capital city, Ljubljana. On the coast, there is a crossing at Lazaret into Lazaretto in Muggia municipality in Trieste province. The Italian border crossing is known as San Bartolomeo.
Koper rose from an ancient settlement built on an island in the southeastern part of the Gulf of Koper in the northern Adriatic. In Ancient Greek, the town was known as Aegida (Goat Town). Later it became known by the Latin names of Capris (Greek Copros), Caprea, Capre, or Caprista, from which the modern Slovenian name stems.
In 568, Roman citizens of nearby Tergeste (modern Trieste) fled to Capris due to an invasion of the Lombards. In honour of the Byzantine emperor Justinian II, the town was renamed Justinopolis. Later, Justinopolis was under both Lombard and Frankish rule and was briefly occupied by Avars in the 8th century.
Since the 8th century, possibly even since the 6th century, Koper was the seat of a diocese. One of Koper's bishops was the Lutheran reformer Pier Paolo Vergerio. In 1828, it was merged into the diocese of Trieste.
Trade between Koper and Venice has been recorded since 932. In the war between Venice and the Holy Roman Empire, Koper was on the German side, and as a result was awarded with town rights, granted in 1035 by Emperor Conrad II. After 1232, Koper was under the Patriarch of Aquileia, and in 1278 it joined the Republic of Venice. It was at this time that the city walls and towers were partly demolished.
In 1420, the Patriarch of Aquileia ceded his remaining possessions in Istria to the Republic, consolidating Venetian power in Koper.
Koper grew to become the capital of Venetian Istria and was renamed Caput Histriae 'head of Istria' (from which stems its modern Italian name, Capodistria).
The 16th century saw the population of Koper fall drastically, from its high of between 10,000 and 12,000 inhabitants, due to repeated plague epidemics. When Trieste became a free port in 1719, Koper lost its monopoly on trade, and its importance diminished further.
According to the 1900 census, 7,205 Italian, 391 Slovenian, 167 Croatian, and 67 German inhabitants lived in Koper.
Assigned to Italy after World War I, at the end of World War II it was part of the Zone B of the Free Territory of Trieste, controlled by Yugoslavia. Most of the Italian inhabitants left the city by 1954, when the Free Territory of Trieste formally ceased to exist and Zone B became part of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. In 1977, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Koper was separated from the Diocese of Trieste.
With Slovenian independence in 1991, Koper became the only commercial port in Slovenia. The University of Primorska is based in the city.
Koper has a humid subtropical climate (Cfa). There is a great deal of rainfall in Koper, even in the driest month. This climate is considered to be Cfa according to the Köppen-Geiger climate classification. The average temperature in Koper is 14.4 °C (57.9 °F). The average annual rainfall is 1,056 millimetres (42 in).
Climate data for Koper
|Average high °C (°F)||7.8|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||5.6|
|Average low °C (°F)||3.5|
|Average precipitation mm (inches)||75|
The Port of Koper
First established during the Roman Empire, the port of Koper has played an important role in the development of the area. It is among the largest in the region and is one of the most important transit routes for goods heading from Asia to central Europe. In contrast with other European ports, which are managed by port authorities, the activities of the Port of Koper comprise the management of the free zone area, the management of the port area, and the role of terminal operator.
Transportation - Get In
Koper has a very frequent bus connection with nearby towns of the Slovenian coast (Izola, Portorož, Piran). The buses from Koper or to Koper depart every 20-30 minutes.
Koper is easily reachable with bus and train. The train and bus stations are adjacent and located about 1 km south of the Muda Gate to the old city. The nearest airport is west of Trieste (64 km), although Ljubljana's (124 km) is also an option.
From Ljubljana, there are hourly buses and 5-6 trains daily, both taking around two hours. There are also direct bus services to Trieste in Italy between 3 and 6 times a day costing about €3. The journey between Trieste and Koper takes between 30 and 60 minutes.
Transportation - Get Around
Koper's Old City can easily be covered on foot. There are also a number local buses that can take you from the main bus station to the old city centre or the newer urban and industrial area. Bus lines and timetables
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There are several shopping centres, for example: Planet Tuš Shopping Centre, Mercator, Supernova and SPAR. There is also a big department store called Zeleni park where you will also find OVS store. In the city centre there are numerous offers offered by the Koper Card; discounts and presents at the city providers identified by the Koper Card label. The discounts may be used many times during the validity period of the card, at every purchase or service order at the providers. Koper Card is also used together with its cupons, which are used for getting free entrances into Koper`s main monuments (the Bell tower, Praetorian Palace, Regional museum and the Ethnological collection).
In Koper you will find many taverns and restaurants, offering plenty of choice for food. You should try one or more of the many taverns and restaurants, snack bars and local smaller taverns offering local food and wine, Pizzerias, traditional Osmicas (farmers offering home made food and wine), sweetshops and tourist farms with traditional home made Istrian food.
When in Koper, do not leave without trying some typical Istrian goodies and other typical Istrian products. Also, you should definitely try some local olive oil from local oil providers. Istrian olive oil is reputed to have many positive effects on the body.
Taverns and restaurants in Koper
- Miranda Tavern, Vanganelska cesta 7A.
- Mediteranean restaurant and pizzeria Capris, Dolinska cesta 1B.
- Pri Škorjevih Tavern, Gortanov trg 13.
- Turk Inn, Cesta med vinogradi 34.
- Za Gradom Tavern, Kraljeva ulica 10.
- Restaurant Pristan, Ferrarska 30.
- Skipper Restaurant, Kopališko nabrežje 3.
- The Emonec brewery and restaurant, Vanganelska cesta 20.
- Chinese restaurant Chang, Cesta Marežganskega upora 13.
- Pizza 33, Istrska cesta 67.
- Hotel Bio Restaurant Vodišek, Vanganelska cesta 2.
- Self service Tavola Amica, Vojkovo nabrežje 38.
- Restaurant Capra, Pristaniška ulica 3.
Taverns and restaurants in the hinterland
- Švab Tavern, Hrastovlje 53, 6275 Črni Kal.
- Majda Tavern, Osp 88, 6275 Črni Kal.
- Norma Tavern, Dekani 34A, 6271 Dekani.
- Cah Tavern, Rižana 22, 6271 Dekani.
- Brič restaurant and enotheque, Dekani 3B, 6271 Dekani.
- Na Brdi Tavern, Dekani 53, 6271 Dekani.
- Mohoreč Tavern, Kubed 66A, 6272 Gračišče, Kubed 66A.
- Jakomin Tavern, Kubed 3, 6272 Gračišče.
- Sočerga Tavern, Sočerga 1, 6272 Gračišče.
- Domačija Ražman, Gračišče 1, 6272 Gračišče.
- Tavern Oljka, Vanganel 40.
- Konoba Moja, Loka 54, 6275 Črni Kal.
- Socerb castle Restaurant, Socerb 7, 6275 Črni Kal.
- Restaurant Tenja, Predloka 5, 6275 Črni Kal.
- Restaurant and pizzeria na Škofijah, Spodnje Škofije 256, 6281 Škofije.
- Emil Tavern, Vanganel 38.
- Baladur tavern, Grintovec 39, 6274 Šmarje.
- Trije Lovci Tavern, Srgaši 38, 6274 Šmarje.
- Istrska klet Pomjan, Pomjan 17, 6274 Pomjan.
- Pod Slavnikom Tavern, Podgorje 1, 6216 Podgorje.
- Pri Dorici Tavern, Sv. Anton 1, 6276 Pobegi.
Coffe & Drink
In Koper you will find a variety of bars and pubs with a various offer of styles and drinks, bigger and smaller wine cellars with rich local wine offerings.
Bars, pubs and caffes
- Calypso caffe, Pristaniška ulica.
- Casa Veneziana, Ribiški trg 9.
- Snack Bar, Istrska cesta 67.
- Triglav Caffe, Pristaniška ulica 5.
- Pastry Kroštola, Kopališko nabrežje 1.
- Kapitanija Caffe, Ukmarjev trg 8.
- Bowling (Disco Planet Tuš), Ljubljanska cesta.
- Loggia Caffe, Titov trg.
- Zanzibar Bar, Prešernov trg 2.
- Ziraldo Caffe, Bazoviška ulica 21.
- Port Bar, Istrska cesta 67.
- Tea House Vanilla, Pristaniška ulica 3.
- Pub 33, Ljubljanska cesta 2a.
- Pastry Klasika, Obrtniška ulica.
- Wine cellar Brič, Novi Brič 1, 6274 Šmarje.
- Osmica and tourist farm Jakomin, Kubed 57a, 6272 Gračišče.
- Wine cellar Vinakoper, Šmarska cesta 1.
- Babič Wine cellar, Šalara 59.
- Organic Viticulture Rodica, Truške 1/c, 6273 Marezige.
- Wine cellar Oras Jerman, Truške 1/c, 6273 Marezige.
- Wine cellar Krmac and Grbac, Marezige 1/6, 6273 Marezige.
- Wine cellar Santomas, Šmarje 10, 6274 Šmarje.
- Wine cellar Škrgat, Hrastovlje 49, 6275 Črni Kal.
Sights & Landmarks
Koper old town
Koper's main sight of interest is the Venetian-era old city, of which the main structures and squares have been fully renovated and restored. The main square (Tito square) is one of the nicest Venetian type squares in the Mediterranean.
The centre of the old city is Tito Square (Titov trg), an austere piazza surrounded by The Praetorian Palace, Loggia, Cathedral of the Assumption, Campanile, Foresteria and Armeria. From here, the cobbled Čevljarska ulica leads south to the Prešeren square with the De Ponte fountain and the old town entrance Muda gate, Kidričeva ulica leads west to the Marina, the old salt warehouse named Taverna and the Carpaccio square.
- Praetorian Palace, Titov trg 3. Dating back to the 15th century and the only fully restored building in the plaza, this is Koper's symbol and it now houses the tourist office which offers guided tours of the Palace, including the city council meeting chamber and weddings room for the price of 3€.
- Cathedral of the Assumption, Tito square. The largest Cathedral in Slovenia containing famous paintings from Vittore Carpaccio, a renowed Venetian painter. Fully renovated, with much sacral heritage indoors.
- Campanile, Titov trg. Climb the bell tower for €3 for great views of the city and surroundings.
- Taverna, Ex deposit of salt, nowadays is the location of the most interesting manifestations in Koper.
- Foresteria and Armeria, The Foresteria, formerly known as Albergo nuovo, was used as reception and accommodation facilities for podesta’s guests. Armeria is the former municipal armory.
- Loggia, It was used as a debate club for all the townsmen, with their discussions considered by the city council as well.
- Fountain Da Ponte, The biggest city fountain is a reproduction of the Rialto Bridge in Venice. It was commissioned in 1666 by podesta Lorenzo da Ponte.
- Muda Gate, The Muda Gate remains the only preserved city gate out of the former twelve.
- Fontico, From the very beginning, the building was used as a warehouse for the grain given to the townsmen in times of bad harvest or war.
- Carpaccio house, The house was the home of the eminent Venetian painter Vittore Carpaccio.
- Church of the Holy Trinity, Hrastovlje The church boasts beautiful frescoes, an extraordinary achievement of Medieval iconography. The most famous is the depiction of the Dance of Death.
- Defence tower, Podpeč This 11th century, 17 m defence tower is a popular tourist sight and one of the most enchanting beauty spots in Slovenian Istria.
- Škocjanski zatok Nature Reserve Stretching out over 122 ha, this is the largest brackish wetland in Slovenia. The area is home to countless birds and other animal species, such as Istrian cattle (boškarin) and Camargue horses.
- Church of St. Roch and St. Sebastian, Boršt According to some sources, the church dates back to the 13th century. It is decorated with fragments of Medieval frescoes and inscriptions in the Glagolitic alphabet.
- The Benko house, Črni Kal The Benko house is believed to be the oldest farmer’s house in Slovenia. It was built in 1489 by the masters Andrej and Benko of Sočerga.
- Coat-of-arms of the De’Cani family, Dekani The name Dekani is linked to the noble Cani family, also known as De’Cani, which originates from the town of Sulmone in Abruzzi, Italy. According to some sources, the De’Cani family owned the village as long ago as the 15th century, as there is a coat-of-arms of the Cani family with the date 1479 on the building at no. 185.
- Church of St. Nicholas, Gračišče Next to this late 18th century church, there is a 26 m white stone bell tower with a built-in stone plaque bearing an inscription in the Cyrillic and Glagolitic alphabet that reads: “I call the living, I mourn the dead.”
- Village architecture, Abitanti The fascinating architectural features of the protected buildings in Abitanti testify to the fact that this was once a very rich village.
- Church of St. Michael, Tinjan Positioned on the edge of the village, the church building has a Baroque front; the entrance is through the large bell tower. The stone plaque built into the portal shows Christ on the Cross and the date 1704.
- The Krkavče Stone, Krkavče Believed by some to be 3000 years old, the stone is the oldest sight in the village. It is 1.5 m tall; on two sides, it features a carved image of what is probably a pagan deity.
- The Dragonja valley At 29 km long, the Dragonja is the longest river in Slovenian Istria. The river valley is well known for its diversity of plant and animal life. Today, it is a nature park popular with hikers, cyclists and nature enthusiasts.
- Marežganska Kanava, Marezige A beautifully preserved stone farmer's house and the main venue of the Refosco Festival and St. Martin's Day celebrations. There are three vines growing outside Kanava: Refosco, Malvasia and Žametovka, a descendant of the world’s oldest vine in Lent, Maribor.
- The Bardinc House, Lopar The building houses a local ethnology and history exhibition with a preserved farmer’s kitchen, fireplace and wine cellar.
- Rock shelters (“The Ears of Istria”) and natural bridge, Sočerga Above Sočerga, nature has carved out some beautiful rock shelters, also known as “The Ears of Istria”. The panoramic trail leads past three 17 m rock shelters to a natural bridge with a 6 m stone arch.
- Slavnik, Podgorje 1028 m high, the hill of Slavnik is situated near the village of Podgorje. The summit of Slavnik offers beautiful views, with the Adriatic Sea, Italian Dolomites, Carnic and Julian Alps, Karavanks and even the Kamnik–Savinja Alps visible in clear weather.
- Strmec Castle, Socerb The Strmec Castle is situated on top of a 440 m Karst cliff above the village. It was built in the 13th century on the foundations of an Illyrian settlement. Today, the castle is one of the most magnificent beauty spots in Slovenian Istria.
- Sacred Cave, Socerb According to a legend, the Sveta jama or Sacred Cave was the dwelling of St. Servulus, a Trieste martyr and saint who lived in the 3rd century. The front part of the cave with a natural stone altar still houses a church today – the only underground church in Slovenia.
- Church of the Immaculate Mother of God, village square and stone window, Šmarje The church was built in the village square in the 11th century. It was expanded and renovated in the 13th century. There is a bell tower next to the church with a built-in 9th century stone window, the remnant of an older church that once stood in the same spot.
- The Supot waterfall and views The 10 m waterfall is at its fullest in the rainy season. The macadam road towards the Dragonja also leads past a smaller waterfall with a beautiful pool.
- Mediterranean herb garden, Manžan The Mediterranean herb garden at the Butul farm in Manžan is a unique experience. Walking through the garden is educational and relaxing at the same time. Cooking and herbal workshops can be organised by agreement.
There are is a public beach in the sea just west of the marina. A large sports area called Bonifika (basketball, football, running track, tennis courts, etc.) is located near the old city centre. Near the industrial area of the Port of Koper (very close to the city centre), there is a natural park called Škocjanki zatok, which is a perfect place for enjoying the flora and fauna of this natural resort.