Cerovlje is the central place of a large municipality spreading over the undulating landscape northeast of Pazin and comprising numerous hamlets and villages: Draguć, Grimalda, Gologorica, Paz, Borut, Pazinski Novaki... Such natural features brought to it plentiful particularities throughout history and continuing until the present time.
Inaccessibility and isolation were the reasons for the very poor or non-existent influence of Rome to this remote piece of its province. Pathless ravines in the east, fortified by carefully arranged forts (Gradina, Paz, Šabec, later Belaj, Posrt) in the Middle Ages created an unassailable frontier used by the Istrian Margrave to expand his dominion which was further defended by the forts of Boljun, Lupoglav, Roč, Črni grad and Beli grad in the north and Letaj, Barban, Rakalj and Sutivanac in the south. The slow arrival of modern changes to the secluded villages, which were only recently upgraded with good roads, led to the depopulation and complete abandonment of some villages. On the other hand, it also influenced the preservation of many ethnologic particularities and the way of living, which have already been made history in other parts of Istria.
If you are searching for the true rural Istria – you are in the right place.
Cerovlje is the centre of the municipality built on an important traffic route that once connected Istria and Rijeka, gaining even greater importance in 1876 after the construction of the Divača – Pula railroad. The settlement has existed in its present location since the 13th century, when this region was ruled by the Aquilean patriarchs. However, it was mentioned for the first time as Cerovlje in 1325 in the Istarski razvod (a legal document on the delimitation of territory between neighbouring municipalities in Istria), whilst in Pazin's County’s Urbar (collections of regulations that governed relations between noblemen and serfs from the early Middle Ages) from 1498 we can find it under the name Czerolach.
>> Find more about Cerovlje on the official pages of the Municipality of Cerovlje
Draguć is the best known small town in the Municipality of Cerovlje, located on the road leading to Buzet, 8 km from Cerovlje. Thanks to its picturesque look and preserved architecture, it often "plays" in domestic and foreign films and TV shows, being known as the "Istrian Hollywood". It is also known for its valuable frescoes in the church of St. Elisha and in the church of St. Rochus, the collection of sacral artworks in the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Holy Rosary, for the altarpiece by painter Venerio Trevisan in the parish church of Holy Cross, as well as for the area’s rich Glagolitic heritage (breviaries, parish registers, notary protocols), which is now kept in both national and foreign museums and archives.
This countryside castle – a castle with an arcade yard, which today is surrounded by vineyards, was built in the 17th century by the noble Barbo family, as a replacement for the ruined nearby caste of Šabec or Posrt. Here also once stood the older castle of St. Martin, mentioned in the 11th century, which belonged to a series of defensive forts stretching from Lupoglava and Črni grad to the north, and to the Letaj fort in the south. From the inner, arcade courtyard, you enter the chapel of St. Henrik, where valuable tombstones are preserved from the ruined Pauline monastery of St. Mary on the Lake, among which are the tombstones of Pazin and Trieste's captain Andrija Kršanski dating back to 1492, and the Glagolitic tombstone of Martin Mojsejević, Lord of Kožljak. (The castle's interior is temporarily unavailable to the public). Between 1668 and 1945, Belaj belonged to the dukes of Auersperg, which made it the centre of a wider private estate, that for a time covered almost the whole of central and north-eastern Istria.
Borut today is a common name for several smaller villages north of Cerovlje. Thanks to the deposited natural clay along the Borut stream, brick production has been cultivated here for centuries, as well as throughout the valley of the Pazinčica River. The clay was once dug and shaped by hand and baked in field ovens called ”frnaže" by the local people. Since 1904, the entrepreneur Jakov Ludvig Munz industrialised this tradition, followed by another local entrepreneur, Mezzar who built a brickyard in Cerovlje in 1911. Borut and Cerovlje's brick was exported thanks to the vicinity of the railway line. Today, due to the lack of raw materials, production is focused on other products, and the population is increasingly turning to tourism. In addition to accommodation facilities and agro touristic households, there are two circular walking trails available to visitors: St. Kocijan trail (4 - 13 km), which leads to the hill of the same name south of Borut and Paz, while the St. Silvester trail (5 - 15 km) leads to the exploration of the fortress of Stari Draguć and to town of Draguć itself, which is 6 km west. Both trails are marked with green-yellow mountaineering signs and start at the Borut's railway station.
Paz (Ger. Passberg) is located on the main and, in fact the only way that led from the Učka Mountain and the Boljun field through steep and unstable canyons to the centre of the peninsula and to the central settlement of the county – Pazin. Paz was at the centre of a separate feudal territory owned by the nobility, which had its headquarters in the local castle, whose remains are still visible on the hill above the settlement. Historical documents reveal a number of names related to this castle, from the Aquileia patriarch, Eberstein, Walderstein, to the Barbo family who restored the Castle in 1570, and to which a number of legends are linked, as well as historical notes from which we still get goose bumps. The cemetery church of St. Vitus located on the hill on the opposite side of the settlement was painted in 1461 by Master Albert, and to this day images of the Throne of Wisdom and the Virgin Mary with Child have been preserved.
To visit the church, it is necessary to contact the Perčić family (Paz 14, +385 (0)52 684 820)