Dvigrad, the fairy tale town
It looks like a movie set. At every corner you expect to see Merlin the magician intent on trying some magic or to find a small group of ladies gossiping about the new knight of the King. You wouldn't be surprised to find yourself in the middle of a duel or to listen to the nursery rhymes of dwarfs in the woods. Dvigrad is truly a place frozen in time, between history and fairy tale. Isolated, almost hidden by the woods Dvigrad stands, or rather it stood on a spur of rock from which it dominated the whole valley below.
Today only the remembrance of the glorious past, its ruins and the surrounding countryside still make Dvigrad very fascinating. For sure you should visit it when in Kanfanar area. As well as being a historical site, it has recently been used for historical re-enactments, theatrical performances and classical music concerts.
Initially, in the Middle Ages, there were two castles facing each other, Moncastel and Castel Parentino. The latter disappeared and only Moncastel remained, which took the name of two Castles (in Croatian though Dvigrad means two Cities).
For a period of time, between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries Dvigrad experienced a period of prosperity, reaching more than a thousand inhabitants. It also passed through many wars and battles and it was disputed first by Pula and Porec, then by Genoa and Venice and also by the Venetian Republic and the Austrian Empire. It also suffered from looting that impoverished the whole area. Then malaria brought about its end and the last inhabitants left Dvigrad definitively in 1715.
While driving on Istrian highway and when you reach the viaduct of the Lim bay you can see from there the imposing ruins of Dvigrad. Each time I find myself passing through that stretch of road I can't help but looking at the ghost town which, as it once was, guards the Lim bay and the valley below. When walking through its ruins with squares, houses, walls, towers and churches you can imagine how people used to live there, how their houses used to be furnished and where they used to buy things, keep animals or bake bread. Its church was also very important, the Basilica of Saint Sofia, which pulpit from the 13th century today embellishes the church of Saint Sylvester in Kanfanar.
A place like this is perfect for legends and stories. And since Istria is a sea land, a pirate certainly can not miss!
The British pirate Henry Morgan, born in 1637 in Wales, did not hang out often in these waters, but it is said that one day, escaping from a sailing vessel of the English Fleet, he was chased away in the Adriatic sea and there he found shelter in the long channel of Lim and dropped the anchor in what is said to be the only "fjord" in the Adriatic. There are also talkings about Vikings…. But that's another story.
When pirate Henry Morgan found shelter for his ship he decided to take his huge treasure to a safe place and hide it on land. There was no better place for his endeavour than Dvigrad which at that time was inhabited by only three families. To make the story even more intriguing, there is a curious fact, which for fans of the Pirate Morgan confirms its truthfulness. A few kilometres from Dvigrad there is a village called Mrgani, which name in the old maps is Morgani ... Do you notice some similitude with the pirate’s name? Well, the inhabitants of this village remember that their elders believed and sought in the districts of Dvigrad the treasures left by their progenitor.
Of course it is only a legend, but such is the power and charm of Dvigrad that you could even believe it ... and maybe move some stones in the hope of finding a coin or an ancient necklace that belonged to the daredevil corsair.