This short overview of Novigrad cultural and historical heritage, is only a part of the rich historical heritage of the city, of which the first written mention dates back even in the year 599. Founded on the grounds of Neapolis in the 7th century, Civitas Nova in 9th and ancient Emonia in the 12th century, Novigrad is a place of intense and rich history, whose testimonies are present with almost every step, so we will leave to you the charm of their discovery.
City harbour, the popular Mandrač, in history was the centre of Novigrad’s life as a small fishing village. Once a central place of economic activities, Mandrač maintained in part, the status of a fishing port, thereby continuing the old tradition, which connects Novigrad and its people to the sea. Therefore, Mandrač is one of the most important symbols of Novigrad, which gives the city a recognizable Mediterranean charm.
The Gallerion, after Vienna, is the second collection in the world of the Austro-Hungarian and other navies. With its exhibits, tells a story about the time when nations gathered under the crown of the large Austro-Hungarian Empire, the world's superpower in shipbuilding, navigation and battles on the sea. In 2007 the collection was personally visited by the heir of the Habsburg’s Dynasty, Otto von Habsburg. The permanent exhibition 'Our Austro-Hungarian navy' represents the nucleus of the future museum dedicated to the study of national and international maritime history and tradition.
The Patrician Palace Rigo belonged to the Rigo family, original nobility of Novigrad (having carried the comital title since 1743). For centuries its members held the most important public offices in the city. As authentic representatives of the city nobility, in 1770 they financed the building of a new, representative town palace. This building is a fine example of 'Central European Baroque' which reached the Istrian coastland via the Theresian Trieste. Today, on the ground floor of the palace there is the Rigo Gallery, established exhibition space of contemporary art.
The parish church of St. Pelagius and St. Maximilian (a cathedral until 1828) is a basilica with three naves, which received the original form in the Early Christianity. Traces of earlier periods are visible along the northern longitudinal wall, where Early Christian window frames were discovered in 1972. The interior of the church is dominated by a Baroque altar and a raised, deep choir, under which an (Early) Romanesque crypt is located, unique of its kind in Istria and one of few in Croatia. Numerous fragments of liturgical inventory from the (Early) Middle Ages were found in the crypt, which are now exhibited at the Lapidarium Museum in Novigrad.
The freestanding bell tower next to the parish church of St. Pelagius and St. Maximilian was built in 1883 and modelled after the bell tower of St. Mark's in Venice. On the tower’s pyramidal spire, the statue of the city’s patron saint, St. Pelagius, was placed there in 1913. The statue is made of wood and covered with a bronze metal sheet. During the summer months, visitors can climb to the top of the bell tower from which there is a beautiful view of the Novigrad’s Riviera.
The modern building of the Lapidarium Museum, built in 2006, gives shelter to monuments from the collection of the Novigrad’s lapidarium. It is a cultural asset of national importance. The museum collection includes architectural elements, and elements of liturgical inventory, originating from between the 1st and the 18th century. The most significant holdings of the museum belong to the collection from the Early Middle Ages, including the well-preserved Mauritius ciborium from the end of the 8th century, a rare example of Early Carolingian art in the region. The museum is the centre of cultural meetings, exhibitions and events.
The historic core of the city once was entirely surrounded by the city walls, the course of which remains visible also today, as a symbol of the city. In the 13th century, with the fall of the city and its environs to Venice, the walls were erected on the remains of Late Antique fortifications. The walls were renewed repeatedly. An older square tower stands next to the former city gate, while the round towers stem from the Renaissance. Thanks to its walls, the city of Novigrad is a member of the international association Walled Towns Friendship Circle (WTFC).
If you walk through the old town centre you will find many interesting details, such as the sarcophagus from the Early Christianity, in the Novigrad’s diocese park, buildings with Gothic windows from the 15th century of Venetian origin, the cistern from the 1496, a late Gothic biforium (double-arched window), discovered as the plaster was removed from the front of the building (on the Square Pozzeto), and stemming presumably from one of the medieval churches that once existed within Novigrad city walls. Then there is the belvedere, the only town loggia in Istria situated by sea, built in the 16th century. And much, much more ...