Svetvinčenat, Savičenta, San Vincenti, three names for the same place,deriving from the name of its patron,Hispanic martyr Saint Vincent and the abbey of the same name around which the small town has developed.
The area has been inhabited since Prehistoric Period and Roman Empire. The beginnings of Svetvinčenat are related to the monastery of the Benedictine monks from Ravenna at the location of the Church of St. Vincent inside the cemetery where the first smaller settlement grew. The settlement is mentioned in the document written by Ottonall II (983) as the property of the Bishop of Poreč. In the 13th century when the family Castropola from Pula took over the feudal town (1211), the new urban centre became the fortified building where the steward lived. Back in 1325 Svetvinčenat is mentioned as an abbey in the document called Istarski razvod-Istrian divorce. After the Castropolas family the new owners were the families Morosini, Krotendorf and additionally the Bishop of Poreč. After finishing the restoration works at the castle in 1485 the Morosini family started the transformation of the town into a well organised Renaissance settlement with a square and cistern in the middle, surrounded by the Parish Church, the loggia on one side and other public and residential buildings nearby. In the 16th century the castle became property of the Grimani di Luca family. The castle as a fortress, existed from the second half of the 13th century. Its transformation into a castle ended in 1485, and it has not changed significantly, not even after the fire in 1856. Its interior consists of a palace, which partly dates from the 14th century. The castle was a very important fortress for Venetian army; it was repaired in 1907 and throughly renovated in 1933.
The Svetvinčenent square, the popular Placa, pleasantly surprises every visitor with its authentic Renaissance appearance, harmonious architectural proportions and simplicity. Placa is surrounded by the castle with its towers and palace, the Parish Church of the Annunciation, the town loggia from the 18th century, and the whole range of 16th century Renaissance houses. In the middle of the town square there is the cistern made of dressed stone in 1808 and entirely financed by local people.
The stone castle Grimani, the best preserved castle in the peninsula of Istria and the largest Svetvinčenat building, stretches over almost the entire north side of the "Placa". The castle used to be the destination for tradesmen, soldiers, aristocracy guests and travel writers, and today it attracts curious travelers and tourists. The first fortress was built in the early 13th century, but the stormy war years resulted in his destruction quite often, which implied the reconstruction and the change of the castle’s appearance. Apart from the appearance, it also changed its owners. After bishops and families Castropola and Morosini, the ownership over the castle was gained by the Grimani from Saint Luca, a Venetian family. The castle took its present appearance in 1589 when Marino Grimani renovated the burnt castle according to the design made by the Venetian architects Scamozzi and Campagne. The castle is today one of the most beautiful Venetian buildings of that time in Istria. On its three corners there are three towers, and the fourth is the palace for gentlemen and a flat for the captain. From these towers all four entrances to the town were controlled. The towers are connected with fortress walls which also have a supporting wall at the bottom, and from the inside there is a balcony throughout its length from which the guards observed through loop-holes. On the gate, apart from the drawbridge, there was also a big descenting barrier. Above the entrance there is the castle’s coat of arms, which is the present coat of arms of Svetvinčenat and coat of arms of the Grimani di San Luca family. Besides the large yard,inside the castle there were situated an apartment for the town steward, a warehouse for payments in kind and ammunition, rooms for 200 musketeers and lancers and a very safe prison – under the ground. In the 19th century the Grimani family left the castle over to the bishops, that gave it to the municipality earlier this century. During the World War II the castle was burnt one more time.
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