Piran: History and Top Attractions

Piran: Coastal Gem of Slovenia


Piran: the Name

The name of the settlement is probably of Greek origin, namely from the modernized Middle Greek adjective πυρρανος “red”, which refers to the reddish flysch stones in the Piran region. Some, however, attribute the origin of the name to the lighthouses that illuminated the entrance to the harbor with fire. Pyros is fire in Greek. In old documents the settlement is mentioned at the beginning of the Middle Ages in Latin as Pirranum, about 670 Piranum, Piranom, ex-Piran, 933 de Pirano, 974 Piranum and 1282 Piranum.

Город Пиран в Словении

Piran, Slovenia

History of Piran

Piran in the Middle Ages

In the second half of the 8th century, Istria passed from Byzantium to the rule of the Franks. In 840 it was annexed by the Kingdom of Italy, in 952 it became part of the German Empire as part of the Marquis of Friuli, after 1209 the post of Istrian border count was occupied by Patriarchate of Aquileia. Since the seventies of the IX century, Istrian cities from time to time felt the influence of Venice, but despite this, including in Piran, they still developed independently and formed their own administration and legislation, so that the inhabitants of Piran in 1274 adopted own statute. In 1283, Piran had to recognize the authority of Venice until 1797, when Napoleon Bonaparte occupied and dissolved the Venetian Republic, and part of its territory was annexed to Austria under the Treaty of Camp Formiano.

After the collapse of the Venetian Republic, Piran briefly fell under the rule of Napoleon. During French rule, a naval battle between English and French warships known as the Battle of Piran took place near it in 1812. From 1797 to 1813, the French and Austrians laid claim to the entire territory of Istria.

After Napoleon's defeat in Russia and at Waterloo, Piran remained under Austrian suzerainty in accordance with the provisions of the Congress of Vienna. At that time, Piran belonged to the Austrian coast, the land of Istria. After the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy at the end of the First World War in 1918 and after the signing of the Treaty of Rapallo in November 1920, all of Istria was part of the Kingdom of Italy until its capitulation in 1943. Until the end of World War II, it was part of the occupation operational zone of the Adriatic coast (Adriatisches Küstenland) of the Wehrmacht, military units of the Third Reich.

After the war, from 1945 to 1954, northern Istria was part of Zone B of the Free Territory of Trieste. The Anglo-Americans controlled its northern part (zone A), which included Trieste and its environs, as well as the Trieste-Gorica railway line. Zone B, which included the northern part of Istria up to the Mirna River, was under Yugoslav military control. According to the London Memorandum of 1954, the FTT ceased to exist, and Zone B was annexed to Yugoslavia. The border between Italy and Yugoslavia was finally confirmed by the Osimo Agreement, which was signed by the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the Italian Republic on November 10, 1975 in the Italian city of Osimo. After Slovenia gained independence in 1991, Piran became a Slovenian coastal town.

St. George is the patron saint of the city

Piran: What to See and Best Way to Explore

Piran is a tiny town on Adriatic coast of Slovenia. It is located on the north of Istrian peninsula, only a few kilometers away from the border with Croatia. With its ancient town, pebbled streets, and Venetian Gothic architecture, Piran is a well-known travel destination that attracts travelers from across the globe.The name, most likely, was given after Greek word “piro”, which means fire. For centuries there was a lighthouse on the cape, to show sailors the way home.

Views of Piran, Slovenia

Views of Piran, Slovenia


Distance from Ljubljana: 120 km

Travel time (by car): 1 hour 10 min

Population: 3800 citizens

Official website:

Main spots: Tartini square, Piran City walls, St. George church

As many other settlements on the coast of Adriatic, Piran for a very long time was under the rule of Venetian republic. Nowadays you can see a lot of signs of that part of history: San Marko lions on facades, typical venetian windows and balconies, colored houses, bell tower of St.George (Svetogo Jurija) church, which is a replica of San Marko in Venice etc...

Piran Town Walls - A Glimpse into History

The town walls of Piran, dating back to the VII century, are an awe-inspiring attraction that any visitor must experience. Basically there are two walls: inner and outer. Outer one partly survived on the hill and offers beautiful views of the town, seaside, Croatian and Italian costs. Inner wall is located in the old town itself and partly recycled into the houses built later. Sometimes you can notice the old gates of XIII-XIV century, with houses literally built on those in XVI-XVII centuries. Taking a walk along the walls and exploring the various towers and gates will take you back in time and give you a glimpse of Piran's rich history and culture.

Tip from slovenian guide: The outer (upper) wall is a great place to start your tour of Piran, especially if you use a taxi or private driver. This area of Piran is less visited due to hilltop location and, as most part of the visitors come directly to the town (foot of the hill), they usually skip this beautiful location. So, ask the driver to drop you off next to the walls, explore the area and walk down the hill to St. George church and further to the narrow streets of old town. After that ask the driver to pick you up at Tartini square. This way you will see all the beautiful views, without of necessity climbing up the hill.

Tartini square, Piran

Tartini square, Piran

Tartini Square - The Heart of Piran

Tartini Square is the cultural and geographical center of Piran and a perfect spot to make some nice pictures. Named after the renowned violinist and composer, Giuseppe Tartini, the square is surrounded by vibrant shops, cafes, and buildings of various colors. The highlight of the square is the statue of Tartini, which draws people's attention instantly. Besides, the Tartini House, currently a museum dedicated to the life and work of Giuseppe Tartini, is also worth a visit.

Tip from slovenian guide: you can enjoy local atmosphere in one of the cafes on the seafront of Tartini square. If you are not looking for something fancy, but want to have local fresh seafoods and feel the spirit of old fisherman settlement try to check a restaurant on a boat Podlanica Nothing fancy at all, but very tasty! Make sure you are not in a rush: they cook for you, it takes time.

St. George's Parish Church - A Marvelous Church

St. George's Parish Church, located on a hill, offers an unmatched view of Piran. Built in the 12th century, this church is famous for its exquisite Baroque interiors and breathtaking views of the surrounding area and the Adriatic Sea. The interiors are adorned with beautiful frescoes, paintings, and a stunning altar. The church also features the famous painting of St. George and the Dragon, which is a sight to behold.

Tip from slovenian guide: the view from St.George bell tower is very similar to the one you get on the city walls. Besides the steps inside are quite steep.

Maritime Museum - A Fascinating Journey into Piran's Maritime Past

The Maritime Museum of Piran is a treasure trove of Piran's rich maritime history. The museum, housed in the historic Gabrielli Palace, displays exhibits on shipbuilding, fishing, and navigation. The museum also showcases various artifacts, ship models, and paintings that depict Piran's maritime past.

Minorite Monastery Of St. Francisc in Piran

The first church here was, likely, built in early XIV century. And in early XVIII it was Giuseppe Tartini to studied and lived here. During the times of socialist Jugoslavia the monastery was nationalised, but given back to church after proclaiming of Slovenian independence. The church and monastery are hardly seen from a distance, but are located only 2 min walk from Tartini square up, or from St. George church down.

Tip from slovenian guide: spend 10-15 minutes in a peaceful atmosphere of the church. Take a few minutes to check the painings inside. After you exit the monastery into bright and vibrant town, it's going to feel different.

Piran is definitely a town full of charm, history, and culture. With its iconic Tartini Square, magnificent St. George's Parish Church, imposing town walls, fascinating Maritime Museum, and the serene Fiesa Lake, Piran offers a range of experiences for all types of visitors. Whether you're interested in history, culture, or nature, Piran is a destination that should not be missed.