Savudrija-Salvore, with its lighthouse, being well-known as the westernmost point of Croatia, too, is the first tourist resort one comes across when visiting the Croatian part of Istria.
According to the legend, it was named after the German emperor Barbarossa - Otto - who during the sea battle in Savudrija-Salvore in 1177 against the allied fleet of the Pope Alexander III tried to hide in a water cistern. ‘Salvo re’ (the saved king) became thus a toponym Salvore or Savudrija-Salvore.
Tourism activities of the Bujština region have their roots in this area. It was Savudrija-Salvore, which was chosen by Austro-Hungarians to be one of the destinations for their holidays and curing. Many villas and summer residences located near the sea prove that in those times numerous tourists had been resting and gathering strength here, as they are doing nowadays.
Along with a tourist complex and a hotel, pleasant accommodation can be found in private houses, as well. Friendly landlords offer accommodation in comfortable bungalows, apartments and rooms with modern furnishings and conveniences along the whole coast of Savudrija-Salvore at the very sea coast or just a little further from it. The properties are surrounded by Mediterranean vegetation which is offering special atmosphere for a pleasant stay during the whole year.
Bike trails passing by numerous historical remnants of Roman buildings and a rich gastronomic offer are only some of the attractions for summer holidays in Savudrija-Salvore.
Over the last years the lighthouse in Savudrija-Salvore, built in 1818, the oldest one on the Adriatic coast, has become a famous sightseeing point and a place for accommodation of guests, as well.
In past centuries the place was also known by the names of Siluo, Silbio, Silbonis, and Silvium. The oldest traces of human presence in the area have been found near the lighthouse. Subjected to radiocarbon dating, known also as carbon-14 dating, these stone artifacts were found to be 11,170 years old, with a possibility of time difference about 209 years (more or less). This may have been an open-air settlement.
Later, through the history of this area we come across citadels, like Sveti Petar near Crveni Vrh, and Romanija. As for the ancient period, there are many remains of the numerous Roman theatres when this territory have been thickly inhabited and important.
Bearing witness to the rich historical stratification of the area is also an inscription found at Frančeskija. This stone was originally part of a sepulchral monument and it has been dated to the late lst or early 2nd century. Today it can be seen in the Umag-Umago collection of stone monuments. It owes its peculiarity to the fact that in Venetian times it had the Pasqualigos' coat of arms engraved on its back. Over years many Roman findings have been unearthed, particularly near the harbour of Savudrija-Salvore. The great importance of the harbour is explained by the very long continuity of life in these parts. However, there is one further reason: due to its proximity to Aquileia, it was an important seaborne trade link.
The ancient remains were first described very early, in 1540, by Pietro Coppo. a geographer born in Venice but who has spent his life in Piran. Indeed, he indicates that one can see the remains of various buildings and that low ebb brings to light the ruins of the older harbour. The subject has been treated by many other scholars, but the most detailed survey was published by Professor Attilio Degrassi in 1957. The natural inlet was enclosed by two jetties. The southern was some 110 metres long, while the length of the northern one amounted probably to 50 odd metres. The northern jetty was rebuilt in 1996, with a lighthouse on its tip. Within the project, stone blocks belonging to the original structures were built into the new harbour constructions.
The road leaving the houses of Savudrija-Salvore for the jetty was made in 1929, which occasioned casual discoveries of a massive wall, canal, and plentiful artifacts. The most conspicuous of the latter is a little bronze statue of the goddess Isis Fortuna, dated to the 2nd century A.D. The image testifies to the phenomenon of syncretism between the Oriental fertility goddess Isis and the Roman goddess of fortune - Fortuna, as a matter of fact. It has been exhibited in the Archaeological Museum of Istria in Pula.Significant remains are still visible, especially to the south of the bay, where the ruins include a tank. The subsequent development of the area is scarsely documented. We do learn, however, that in 1463 various families came from Dalmatia and were given land in the region of Savudrija-Salvore.
Until the middle of the 20th century this was a territory where several private landowners had their vast estates, exemplified by Crveni Vrh, today a famous tourist resort, once a manor covering an area of 1600 acres, 1000 of which was cultivated land. Of the twenty-eight estates situated in north-western Istria, all of them with a surface exceeding 75 acres, six were within the zone of Savudrija-Salvore, with a total of 2400 acres. The manor of Crveni Vrh was the second most important, coming after the Benedictine possession of Dajla.
The landscape here is still specific for its numerous ranches, called štancija -small settlements with capacious stables and other accompanying facilities. In wintertime they frequently offered shelter to shepherds from the mountains of Ćićarija. In the precincts of these štancijas there are many buildings which preserve architectural qualities of past times, recording lifestyles that are becoming ever more remote.
In the štancija of Frančeskija, that belonged to counts Toppo, temporarily active was even a small cork-works! A final curiosity. In 1911 a steamship was built and named Lampo (Lightning), later Salvore (Italian for Savudrija-Salvore). After long years of arduous service, which on several occasions brought her to the harbour of Savudrija-Salvore, in 1944 she was sunk in Rijeka harbour.
Battle of Savudrija-Salvore
As far as it concerns this battle, scholars have not yet reached a unanimous conclusion. Some take it to be a mere legend, while others believe it to be a real historical event. The battle would have occurred in 1177, when Venetian galleys clashed with those of Genoa and Piša, which had joined Emperor Frederick Barbarossa's forces. The latter fleet is said to have numbered 75 ships, against only 30 on the Venetian side, rallied with the assistance of Istrian towns.
We read that Doge Sebastiano Ziani cast anchor in the Bay of Piran, taking the enemy's vessels by surprise and getting the better of them. Apparently, 48 ships were captured, along with Barbarossa's son himself, the young Otto. Four ships were sent to the bottom, while the rest fled.
On All Saints' Day there used to be a festivity at Savudrija-Salvore celebrating that event, as well as the indulgence conceded by Pope Alexander III. In 1459 Pope Pius II granted the permission to move the festivity from Ali Saints' Day to Corpus Christi.
A fresco depicting the battle was destroyed in 1577 when the Hall of the Great Council went up in flames. The next year Domenico Tintoretto was assigned the creation of the present image.
History of tourism at Savudrija-Salvore
As a rule, the name Savudrija-Salvore is used for the whole of the territory gravitating towards the place, even when one is going to Bašanija or Crveni Vrh instead. This is perhaps explained by the fact that, indeed, Savudrija-Salvore was the most famous and most important place in the area, while other villages were in general barely known, which has changed only in recent decades.
The beginnings of tourist activities in the area can be traced back to the first days of the lighthouse at least, that i s to 1818. Many were then attracted by it, even from remote parts.
A long period follows of which the historical sources studied so far tell us nothing about further developments. We know that by the end of the 19th century a hotel had already been opened. It was named Alla Posta (Post Office) and run by Celestino Favretto, in Savudrija-Salvore harbour. His business included mail delivery, too. Next we hear that in 1903 Antonio Rota opened a hotel cum restaurant at Bašanija. Three years later he moved to nearby Monteneto, leaving his business at Bašanija to Luigi Maurel.
An important role in the development of tourism in the area was played by the Cesares. The family owned a manor house of the same name, known also as Stancija Grande. Theirs were two other large buildings, meant for purely tourist purposes: Villa Lotta, nowadays known as Villa Rog, and Villa Ziani. The former is situated next to the harbour, while the latter nestled in the valley underlying Stancija Grande.
Villa Ziani owes its name to Doge Sebastiano Ziani, who won the battle of Savudrija-Salvore. In 1912 the facility had six rooms at its guests' disposal. The Cesares had a small and modest seaside resort in the harbour, which offered a one-seat canoe, similar in shape to the Venetian gondola. They also had a carriage, then a car (perhaps the first in the area), both for personal use and for transporting tourists from the steamships to their destination. Apparently, it was this family to open a seaside resort at Barcola near Trieste. Across the road, underlying Villa Lotta, was the Paludettos' hotel, later named Al Piave. It had a capacity of 8 rooms, and in the 20s a bowling court was attached to it.
The Seaside Hospice of Savudrija-Salvore was established near the lighthouse in 1908, with the purpose of accomodating sick children and orphans from Styria who used to come to this resort between the months of May and October. By that time, however, the children had already been coming to Savudrija-Salvore, staying with Michele Visintin at Bašanija. The choice of Savudrija-Salvore for their summer resort was surely motivated by its favourable climate, but possibly also by the vicinity of Portorož, which had already grown into an important tourist centre. In fact, it was the Social Welfare Council from Portorož to initiate steamship excursions in 1911, and among the first destinations were the lighthouse of Savudrija-Salvore and the ruins at Sipar.
After the First World War the hospice was sold to Giovanni Codiglia from Bašanija. In 1924 he passed it to the city of Graz, which immediately undertook its restoration, resulting in a doubled capacity, that is 80 beds. In 1936 it could accomodate 536 boys and girls aged 6 to 16. Nearly half the children came from Graz, while the others arrived from Vienna, Carinthia etc. The complex underwent another restoration and enlargement in 1999. Today it can offer suites and hotel rooms.
Let us go back to 1938, when the accomodation capacity in the lighthouse area got a fresh start: pension Adria (18 rooms with 36 beds), pension Gamboz (15 rooms with 27 beds), pension Predonzani (16 rooms with 27 beds). The offer was widened in 1939, when Albino Pelizzon built his own pension, Pineta (Pine-wood), with 25 beds. As far as it concerns commercial coverage, worth remembering are the first steps taken by Hans Gartler from Villach, owner of the Adria pension at Valdepian. His presence in these parts is definitely to be related to the fact that he married Antonia Codiglia from Savudrija-Salvore. Gartler printed postcards with his pension on front, while on their backs one could get essential Information on the accomodation, including prices of every service offered.
In 1939 pension Gamboz followed suit. The backs of their postcards referred to the place in these words: 'Come and see. Here you will find peace, cool air of the sea and woods, most limpid sea water, and tasty home-made food'.
For the last 50 years tourism has been on the increase at Savudrija-Salvore, and very much so. Some of the pensions have been assigned to private use, others turned into rest centres. Pensions Gamboz, now Istra, and Pineta, presently Moj mir (My Peace), are still alive with tourist industry.
Motor camp Pineta was opened in the early 60s and is particular for its imposing pine-trees, planted in 1911 and 1912. In the immediate vicinity of motor camp Pineta a tourist village was built by Istraturist in 1987, offering 62 suites. In 1970 Veli Jože from Zagreb opened the Borozija camp. In 1973 a holiday resort cum camp was erected by Istraturist at Kanegra. The naturist camp was opened the next year. Kanegra was earlier known for its quarry, whose rock faces still offer a suggestive background to the beach. Since the 5Os the area has been witnessing a boom of summer and weekend cottages, belonging mostly to Slovene firms and individuals. Finally, in 1997 the local tourist association was founded.
Worth attention are the manor houses scattered throughout the area. They were built by landowners with estates in these parts, as well as by cultured people who found these half pastoral half agrarian surroundings well-suited for their rest.