Višnjan Observatory

In the early evening of 20 October 1995 it seemed that not much work would be accomplished in the observatory. A fog rising from the sea covered the western coast of Istria all the way to Pula. Fortunately, the central part of Istria, the plateau with Višnjan on top, stuck out like an island emerging out of a sea of fog. Part of the night was spent in replacing the telescope’s damaged electronics, while the rest was spent on routine observation of the sky.  Around 11 pm the area around the star Kapa Arietis was filmed, and the location of the asteroid 4064 Marjorie, a huge rock formation 10 times the size of Učka, was calculated. This small planet or asteroid orbits the Sun, right behind Mars. It was discovered in 1960 at the famous Palomar Observatory in the USA. The location of this specific asteroid had not been calculated for years, so the uncertainty of its precise location was growing. It was required to take three shots and send them to the Small Solar-System Body Centre, along with calculations.

A series of shots were taken, with 4064 Marjorie in the centre. On the very margin of the photos, another object of low brightness was observed. Filming continued the next night, and data about the movements of this strange object were sent to the Small Solar-System Body Centre. Soon an answer was received: the Observatory in Višnjan had discovered a new celestial body, temporarily named J95U01A, until the definite parameters of its course could be defined. And so, another asteroid or small planet was discovered!

Since then the Višnjan Observatory has discovered more than 1500 new asteroids and two comets. Today, Višnjan is one of the world’s most productive solar-system-mapping research centres, and it is part of world scientific history.


Višnjan Observatory
Istarska 5, HR-52463 Višnjan
T.: +385 (0)52 449212
F.: +385 (0)52 449212



Ičići, a perfect family destination

The sea has always been the main resource for the people of Ičići ever since the ninth century BC when the Liburnians (an Illyrian tribe) used to build their fast ships along these coasts and then sail to North Africa and Asia Minor.

It is therefore no wonder that this ancient connection with the sea has been preserved right up to the present day. Today, Ičići is most famous for its attractive beach and one of the best marinas in the Adriatic for big yachts (030 berths and 35 dry berths). Also, Ičići has a traditional local port for small boats. For more than a decade, Ičići beach has been awarded the Blue Flag, an international symbol of high-quality service and cleanliness, and has been listed as one of the five best-maintained beaches in Croatia.

The marina, sheltered from the northern bura wind by Mount Učka, has 283 berths with electricity and water, and is the best harbour for yachts up to a length of 40 metres in the northern Adriatic. However, Ičići offers much more than just enjoying the beach and sea. Visitors can spend an action-packed holiday doing a variety of sports activities such as speedminton, sand volleyball, beach aerobics, tennis, paintball and football at the nearby campsite. For hiking enthusiasts, there are numerous marked trails leading up to Mount Učka that start in Ičići and end at the top of the highest mountain in Kvarner. On the road from Icici to the Učka mountain you will find the small medieval town of Veprinac, whose city statute dates as far back as the year 1500.

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Učka nature park for the adventurers

Učka Nature Park provides excellent conditions for different recreational and sporting activities. The public institution strives to encourage and develop such activities, but also to control them, to make sure they represent no threat to the very characteristics for which the area was proclaimed a nature park in the first place. Some sporting and recreational activities have a long tradition in the park, but some are entirely new. The public institution has elaborated a detailed programme of organised and supervised types of recreational activities within the park:


The first recorded ascent of Učka’s peak was made in 1722 by Zanichelli, a botanist from Venice. Over the next 150 years, numerous botanists and geologists from various countries visited Učka to pursue their interest in the mountain’s rich vegetation. Učka then grew increasingly popular due to its closeness of Opatija, a popular resort for European aristocracy. As a result, many aristocrats of that time visited Učka to admire its beauty. With the development of tourism along the coast, progress gradually reached the slopes of Učka too. The local tourism office would advise visitors to take a cruise on Kvarner Bay or a “highly rewarding mountain tour” to Učka’s peak. This is how Učka, previously of interest only to scientists, geologists or botanists, became popular among hikers and day-trippers and the tourists who were spending their holidays in Opatija. The Poklon pass and the whole of Mount Učka became a favourite destination of tourists from the whole Opatija Riviera. The Poklon Mountain Hut provided comfortable shelter and was a starting point for climbing the peak, where one could enjoy a magnificent sunrise, the most spectacular moment of any ascent to the peak of Učka.


Within Učka Nature Park are 8 well-tended, marked mountain-bike trails of varying difficulty to a total length of 180 km. The trails lead through various landscapes, providing a unique chance to enjoy magnificent views of Kvarner Bay, the islands and towns along the coast, and then experience the beauty of Mount Učka and the Ćićarija plateau at higher altitudes. Each trail is described in more detail in the Učka Bike brochure, which can be obtained from the Učka Nature Park Public Institution or from tourist agencies on the Opatija Riviera.


The canyon of Vela draga, with its 62 climbing routes, represents one of the most attractive climbing areas in Croatia, and is very popular among climbers throughout the year. The solitary limestone towers and rocks of Vela draga are ideal for pursuing this sport. The first climber to recognise this was Emilio Comici from Italy, who climbed the first route in Vela draga back in 1931.

Hang-gliding and paragliding

Since the very beginnings of modern paragliding and hang-gliding, Učka has attracted many enthusiasts of these sports and hosted several Croatian and international competitions. The Učka paragliding and hang-gliding area is located within the nature park’s borders and includes take-off ramps at Vojak and Brgud.

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The seaside promenade, Lungomare

2011 was the 100th anniversary of Opatija’s best-known footpath – the famous coastal promenade that stretches from Volosko to Ičići and Lovran. Officially named the Franz Joseph I Promenade, it is still best known as the Lungomare. Dating back to the heyday of Opatija as a health and tourist resort at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, the Lungomare was built in parts. Ever since, the Lungomare has been a favourite walking path for local people and their visitors, a motif of countless photographs and paintings, and an essential part of Ičići’s townscape when viewed from the sea. A walk along this promenade above all means enjoying the fresh sea air and a beautiful coastal landscape dotted with quaint coves, but it is also much more than that. It is also a chance to learn something about local history: for right from its starting point in Volosko by the birthplace of the great scientist Andrija Mohorovičić, past former sanatoriums and guesthouses in the northern part of the promenade, through Angiolina Park and on past Slatina beach further south all the way to the magnificent villas in Lovran, the Lungomare reveals a series of buildings, locations, monuments and memorial plaques that tell the interesting tale of Opatija’s past.

Biking trail Parenzana

The attractive sports and recreational trail that offers magical and breathtaking views of Istria has a reconstructed section of the one-time railway line that connected Poreč and Trieste. The Istrian section of Parenzana is winding through wonderful valleys, over green hills, through vineyards and along olive groves all the way to medieval towns. The entire trail is marked with characteristic yellow signposts providing information on historical viaducts, tunnels and railway stations that you will discover on this challenging journey.

For those who would like to see and experience some magic of the locations where a railway composition once chugged, we have picked some locations that are accessible by car. Those places are located near the most interesting parts of the railway covered by shadow tunnels and impressive viaducts.

It is easy to find them using the field map and route description:

1. In the village of Valica, there is a house that was once the Savudrija-Salvore (Salvore) railway station, named after the fishing village located 6 kilometres away. If you set off towards the tourist resort of Kanegra you will arrive at a macadam road where the railway once travelled on and which offers a beautiful view over the Piran inlet and the saltfarms of Sečovlje.

2. The village of Stanica, near Grožnjan-Grisignana, where the railway station was located once:

a. It is possible to walk to the inhabited station building as well as towards the village of Peroj along the route, arriving at the stone entrance to the tunnel below Roman Peak (Vrh Romana). On the left side, it is possible to climb the top and walk down to the route on the other side of the walled tunnel in which you can look into from this side, by going along the marked hiker’s trail.

b. From the station you can also go towards Grožnjan-Grisignana and in the nearby long, right curve turn onto the little macadam road on the left side which will lead you to the closed entrance to the Kalcini Tunnel. This tunnel goes through the Parenzana’s greatest height above sea level (293 m). Today, mushrooms are cultivated here as well.

3. The village of St. Stefan near the village of Kostanjica. Here you can take a walk along the path beside the cemetery church (10-15 minutes) to the village of Biloslava, where the Kostanjica station was once located. Biloslava offers a beautiful view on the whole area. If you turn right towards Završje you can visit the 69 metre long Kostanjica Tunnel.

4. Immediately below the village of Završje is an old, crumbling building which stands in the place of the old station. It is possible to walk past it and visit two short tunnels and the large Završje Viaduct.

5. The village of Vižintini is located very close to the route. From there you can climb up the Parenzana: on the left side you will arrive at the Završje Viaduct, and on the right at the Antonci Viaduct.

6. The village of Antonci and the settlement of Krti: on the left side you arrive at the Antonci Viaduct. Continue on the right through the stunning landscape, at times passing through little coniferous forests and you will arrive at a fantastic combination of viaducts and the Freski Tunnel.

7. The village of Kanal beside Motovun-Montona. Beside the petrol station it is possible to arrive at the railway station. Not far from here, towards Vižinada-Visinada, is the Motovun-Montona Tunnel (flash light is recommended when passing through the tunnel).

8. Immediately near the village of Karojba, from the direction of Motovun-Montona, by the macadam road it is possible to arrive at a widening in the road where the railway station once stood. Continuing on foot towards Vižinada-Visinada it is possible to arrive at the bridge over the Krvar creek in less than five minutes.

9. Viaduct Sv. Vital or Veli Most over the Sabadin stream is situated about half way from Vižinada-Visinada to Rakotule, and it can be reached from both sides.

a. You can leave your car at the point where the road Rakotule – Špinovci crosses the route and go to the left in the direction of Vižinada-Visinada (about 2,5km).

b. On the road from Vižinada-Visinada to Pula, about 200 meters after the junction to Poreč there is a widening on the left side of the road and there you need to take a route towards Motovun-Montona (about 2,5km).

For more information about Parenzana: