Cultural sights

Villa / Cloister in Dajla

In Dajla, at the very seashore, lies a valuable architectural complex, whose harmonious beauty and long, eventful history attracts the attention of both specialists and casual passersby. The complex acquired its present appearance in 1839, after plans of French architect Le Terrier de Manetot. To this origin of its architect the palace of Dajla ows its French Neoclassicist appearance, unique in Istria.

At the place of an old, square building with towers at each of the corners, which was named the castrum from time immemorial, an elegant, rectangular two-storey house was erected, whose front was flanked with two nearly identical buildings. Having respected the style of the preceding period, De Manetot left the Baroque church of St. John the Baptist (consecrated in 1783), lying to the East of the villa, untouched, and constructed a new house of equal external appearance facing it (the residence of the chaplain). This intentionally mirrored reflection strongly emphasizes the symmetry of the main building's front, and leads through the (once cultivated) garden to the monumental portal that separates the building complex from the sea like a transparent membrane. A small pier shows that the villa could also be reached by the sea.

The described architectural complex from the first half of the 19th century is one of only a few Neoclassicist cultural monuments on the Adriatic coast. Sadly, today the complex is uninhabited, disfigured by inappropriate building measures and dilapidated by age and human neglected. The oldest traces of its history stem from Antiquity, when a Roman estate was located at the same place. In the 5th and 6th century, Greek monks constructed a cloister there, which was taken over by the Benedictines in the 9th century. The cloister was consecrated to St. John the Baptist.

In the mid- 13th century, it was abandoned and passed into the possession of the bishops of Novigrad. In the year 1273, Bishop Nicolò donated the cloister to the wealthy family Sabini from Koper, who renovated it. At this time, it received the name Kaštel Dajla (Castrum Dailae). When the Sabini remained heirless, the castrum fell to the counts Grisoni from Koper. A reconstruction in the first half of the 19th century turned the Kaštel into a country villa. After a family tragedy, in 1835 Count Francesco Grisoni donated the villa to the Benedictines of St. Maria di Praglia (near Padua), under the condition that they dedicate themselves to the education of the local population.

The Benedictines moved into the villa in 1860, and it once more became a cloister. It operated until 1948. Until 1989, the former cloister served as a home for the elderly and an almshouse, and since then it has been left to itself. The eventful and long history of the complex and its architectural value demand the conservation and restoration of this cloister-villa and its revitalization.