The Istrian section of Parenzana meanders through wonderful valleys, over green hills, through vineyards and along olive groves all the way to medieval towns. The entire trail is marked with characteristic yellow signposts providing information on historical viaducts, tunnels and railway stations that you will discover on this challenging journey.
History of Parenzana
Parenzana or, in abbreviated form, TPC was a 123.1 km long narrow-gauge railway line, connecting 33 places in Istria, from Trieste to Poreč; today it would therefore pass the territories of three countries: Italy (13 km), Slovenia (32 km) and Croatia (78 km). The railway line was opened on 1 April 1902 when, in spite of many problems and postponements, the first train started from Buje to Trieste; in December of the same year the section from Buje to Poreč was completed also.
Although the builders named the railway Parenzaner Bahn (Poreč Railway), the Slavic population called it Istrijanka and Istranka (after Istria) or Poreška and Porečanka (after Poreč), and the Italians called it Parenzana. Regardless of what it was called, the railroad meant life for the region it ran through. On its 123 km long route, the small, slow train was puffing every day through hilly and diverse karst areas, carrying passengers, salt from the Piran and Sečovlje salt pans, olive oil from Buje and Motovun, fruit, vegetables, Istrian stone, lime, flour and wine.
The railway line was closed in 1935, but although it only operated for 33 years, it has left an indelible stamp on the entire region. At the 100th anniversary of the railway’s opening, an initiative arose to restore this unique railway, which was connecting people and nations in the beginning of the 20th century.
The constructions on railway stations were a felicitous combination of functionality and aesthetics. Passenger and reception facilities were the central structures, built in proportion to the station’s importance and the volume of traffic as the first and second-class stations and sheds of shelters at train stops. The lowest-class stations were only equipped with a lamp post and the name board.
In addition to Poreč, passenger buildings of the first class were also built at Koper and Lucija. The station at Poreč was conceived as a future initial station of the Poreč- Kanfanar railway line, and another shorter line, where a station was planned for the embarkation of goods and passengers on steamboats and vice versa. For this reason the Poreč train station was larger than the one at Trieste. All facilities are in excellent condition, but used for other purposes.
Structures along the Line
Facilities on the railway stations were built in accordance with the standards of the Austrian State Railways, applicable in all countries of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
In Austria and other independent states which emerged from the dissolution of the monarchy, constructions can still be seen today, similar to those along the Parenzana Railway, although there are some differences in the building materials used.
For example, wood was the prevailing building material in the Alpine regions, while brick was used in lowland areas.
The Parenzana Railway had 604 curves; the shortest curve had a radius of 60 m and it was 10.5 m long. Close to the Oprtalj viaduct, there was 234.6 m long curve with the radius of 70 m.
On average, all other curves had a radius of 80 and more metres, most often about 150 m on the section from Trieste to Buje and exactly 80 m on the Buje-Poreč section.
There were 9 tunnels dug out along the route with the overall length of 1,530 m. The most magnificent one was the 544 m long tunnel through the Lucan hill, located between the stations of Strunjan and Portorož. Other tunnels, listed by size, were the tunnels at Motovun, Šalet, Kalcini, Freski, Kostanjica, Sv. Vid and two small tunnels at Završje. All tunnels were walled and their portals were constructed of cut stone.
There are few watercourses in the north-western part of Istria, so not many bridges had to be built. Only 16 bridges of modest dimensions were constructed. Their average length was little above 5 m and the overall length was 192 m. There are also six viaducts, all of them on the section between Buje and Poreč. All viaducts were built of stone, with semicircular arches on strong columns.
The viaducts were constructed on curves, with arches reaching more than 15 m high.
In addition to bridges and viaducts, there were many embankments constructed, with central islands and arched crossings.
Length: 123.1 km
Track gauge: 760 mm
Number of train stations and stops: 35
Number of curves: 604
Number of tunnels: 9
Number of bridges: 11
Number of viaducts: 6
Length of wagons: 8.5 m
Number of seats in a wagon: 30
Beginning of construction: 1900
Last running of the train: 31/08/1935