Culture and history of Novigrad

The area of Novigrad has been inhabited since pre-historic times, while the remains of numerous country villas from the antique times were found in the vicinity of the old town.

Novigrad is first mentioned in 599, in a letter Pope Gregory I wrote to the Ravenna archbishop Mariniani. In an important document from the beginning of the 9th century, Novigrad is quoted as Civitas Nova, while in the 12th century, it is mentioned as Emona and Emonia.

In the very centre of the old town, the new Lapidarium museum found its palce, an example of a dynamic and modern space which successfully defies old-fashioned perceptions of museums. Youngsters will like it the most. Constructed of glass and surrounded by greenery, Lapidarij houses one of the most important collections of stone monuments in the whole of Croatia. Among the most important ones is certainly the Mauricius' ciborium, from the end of the 8th century, well-preserved and a rare example of Caroline art in this area.

Near the museum, you will find the Rigo gallery, located on the ground floor of the Rigo family antique palace. Even the leading intellectual of today, Noam Chomsky, could not resist the smallish gallery and the skilful team of directors set up an exhibition of the famous Andy Warhol’s work, as well as a series of other recognised domestic and foreign artists.

The Rigo palace is a cultural monument of a kind. Built around 1760 in baroque style, it was the residence of the patrician family Rigo, who left a significant mark in Novigrad history. The ornamental elements on the front of the palace are unique among Istrian palaces from the same period.

In the same period, the Rigo family also the constructed a country villa on the peninsula of Karpinjan, just one kilometre away. The palace was built in 1762 as a blend of Venetian and mid-European baroque. The complex included residential and economy buildings, as well as the St Lucia’s chapel.

The parish Church of St Pelagija and St Maksim is a three-nave basilica. It obtained its original shape in the early Christian period (V-VI century), at the time of the founding of Novigrad diocese. It also had a baptistry, which was demolished in 1782, as well as a building with bishops’ living quarters. The old bell-tower at the front of the cathedral was demolished in 1874 and a new freestanding one was built. The church was thoroughly renovated in 1408, 1580, 1746 and 1775. In the middle ages, its interior was illustrated by frescoes and today’s neo-classicist front was finished in 1935.

Under the baroque altar, there is an early-Romanesque crypt, the only one in Istria and one of the rare ones in Croatia.

From the early Christian period, a sarcophagus was also preserved in Novigrad, while defence ramparts were built in the middle of the 13th century and renovated on several occasions.

Monastery in Dajla experienced turbulent history, passing from owner to owner. In the first half of the 19th century, it was renovated according to the drawings by a French architect, to whom it owes today’s appearance.