Vissignanun, Vicinius, Guissignanus, Visignano – the name Višnjan most probably originates from the Latin word "vicinianus", which means «in the vicinity of», because, in the past, Višnjan was the nearest property of the town of Porec. The oldest written document mentioning its name is an Act from 1003, by which St. Maur's land borders were being determined.
In the area of the village Strpacici, 1 km from Višnjan, some copper earrings and needles were found, dating from the Bronze Age. Between 2000 and 1000 BC, Illyrians, and later also Celts, were settling. A small state of Istria was established, with its centre at Nesazium (Vizace). Remains dating from that period can be found on a small hill called Montenes ("montenes" means "beautiful incline" in Celtic), near Višnjan. Valuable findings of various pottery as well as other remains from that period were also found in Višnjan itself. To the West of Višnjan a settlement called Dilian, which was famous in Antique times and in the Middle Ages, could be found, with its monastery and St. Michael's church from the 11th century.
Around 170 BC, Vizace was beseiged by the Romans, and Istria thus became a part of the tenth Italic province, and Roman rule over Istria ceased in 476 AD. The Ostrogothic period followed, and from 539 to 751, these parts were ruled by the Byzantines. The Langobards were to follow, who raised the peninsula to the rank of a duchy. In 771, Charles the Great, having defeated the Langobards, broke the land up into feuds.
Motovun, under whose jurisdiction at that time a wider area of Višnjan belonged, was passed in 1278 into the hands of St. Mark, and this is how this area linked its destiny to the Venetian Republic until its end. Administratively, Višnjan belonged to Motovun up to 1847, when it became an independent municipality.
During the Viennese Court rule, towns were strengthening their position, large quantities of agricultural produce pouring in and the area of Višnjan, with its agriculture, was also included in those developments. The social structure of the population was changing and better economic conditions were born. The whole Višnjan area went through its economic and cultural renaissance.