The Istrian people have left traces with their customs and hard work which today's Istrian inhabitants try to preserve and ennoble. Istra is imbued with symbols followed by stories and eternal legends.
The symbol of Istria is the goat – a mysterious creature, an example of persistence, modesty and pride; the foster-mother of many generations. Istrians were modest farmers, wine-growers, shepherds and cattle breeders, of which the numerous autochthonous animal species – the Istrian ox – the boškarin, donkey, a hunting dog – the Istrian Hound and the pramenka sheep that will only pasture on a particular grass species are evidence of this. This area is also home to the well-known Istrian kažuni. Kažuni are small field refuges made of dry stone, without using binding materials. Apart from being a refuge, these were also used to monitor the fields and vineyards immediately before harvesting.
Murals are another specific Istrian product. The small churches were painted as priests of the time had no money to furnish their churches with rich furniture. So they engaged plebeian artists to paint Bible motifs on fresh mortar. These paintings have now become major works of art. The most famous mural is the Dance of the Dead in the church of St. Mary on Škrljinah in Beram.
The most popular dance in Istria is the balun which is performed dressed in the two-coloured national costume, accompanied by traditional musical instruments, the mih (a pair of bellows) and the šurle (a trumpet). Istarska ljestvica, is a unique way of music-making and singing and is both played and sung. A proposition has been made for istarska ljestvica to be included in the UNESCO world heritage list. Today's anthem of the Istrian County is the song Krasna zemljo, Istro mila (Beautiful country, my dear Istria), which is an ode to happiness and a story about good Istrian people.
Istra and its inhabitants were connected by a famous railway, the Parenzana which connected Trieste and Poreč from 1902 to 1935, passing through numerous Istrian railway stations and along through Croatia, Italy and Slovenia. Today, the railway corridor has been preserved, as well as the numerous accompanying railway facilities, such as bridges, viaducts and tunnels. Part of the old railway route has been reorganized for cycling and walking paths.
The largest and the most well-preserved medieval fortress in Istria is Pazin Castle. The famous author, Jules Verne, wrote about it and about the abyss of the Pazin Gorge in his novel, Mathias Sandorf.
The small Istrian village of Kringa is known for its story from the 17th century about the vampire, Jure Grandi, which was noted by Johan Weikard Valvasor. His notes have been rewritten by numerous assemblers of vampire almanacs, one of which was also Herman Hesse. Still today the inhabitants of Kringa believe that vampires exist.
There is an old legend which says that in Istria and more precisely, in the valley of the Mirna River, giants once lived. One of the villages supposedly built by giants in that legendary period of the Mirna Valleys was Motovun. In Vladimir Nazor's legends and stories, Motovun giant, Veli Jože who was so big and strong that he was able to damage the Motovun church bell tower with his bare hands is still remembered.