Koper is the fifth largest city in Slovenia. Located in the southwestern part of the country, approximately five kilometres (3.1 miles) south of the border with Italy and 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Trieste, Koper is the largest coastal city in the country.
With a unique ecology and biodiversity, it is considered an important national natural resource. It is the oldest recorded urban settlement in Slovenia. Koper developed from an ancient settlement built on an island in the southeastern part of the Gulf of Koper in the northern Adriatic. In Ancient Greek, the town was known as Aegida (Goat Town). Later it became known by the Latin names of Capris (Greek Copros), Caprea, Capre, or Caprista, from which the modern Slovenian name stems.
In 568, Roman citizens of nearby Tergeste (modern Trieste) fled to Capris due to an invasion of the Lombards. In honour of the Byzantine emperor Justinian II, the town was renamed Justinopolis. Later, Justinopolis was under both Lombard and Frankish rule and was briefly occupied by Avars in the 8th century.
Since the 8th century, possibly even since the 6th century, Koper was the seat of a diocese. One of Koper’s bishops was the Lutheran reformer Pier Paolo Vergerio. In 1828, it was merged into the diocese of Trieste.
Trade between Koper and Venice has been recorded since 932. In the war between Venice and the Holy Roman Empire, Koper was on the German side, and as a result, was awarded town rights, granted in 1035 by Emperor Conrad II. After 1232, Koper was under the Patriarch of Aquileia, and in 1278 it joined the Republic of Venice. It was at this time that the city walls and towers were partly demolished.
In 1420, the Patriarch of Aquileia ceded his remaining possessions in Istria to the Republic, consolidating Venetian power in Koper.
Koper grew to become the capital of Venetian Istria and was renamed Caput Histriae ‘head of Istria’ (from which stems its modern Italian name, Capodistria).
The 16th century saw the population of Koper fall drastically, from its high of between 10,000 and 12,000 inhabitants, due to repeated plague epidemics. When Trieste became a free port in 1719, Koper lost its monopoly on trade, and its importance diminished further.
Koper’s 15th-century Praetorian Palace is located in the city square. It was built from two older 13th-century houses that were connected by a loggia, rebuilt many times, and then finished as a Venetian Gothic palace. Today, it is home to the city of Koper’s tourist office.
The city’s Cathedral of the Assumption was built in the second half of the 12th century and has one of the oldest bells in Slovenia (from 1333), cast by Master Jakob in Venice. The upper terrace is periodically open and offers a great view of the Bay of Trieste. In the middle of it hangs the Sacra Conversatione painting from 1516, one of the best Renaissance paintings in Slovenia, made by Vittore Carpaccio.
Carpaccio House and Square in Koper
The Carpaccio Square in Koper is adorned with the Column of St Justine and a well in the shape of capital. It also contains the namesake house. According to legend, the painter Vittore Carpaccio was born there. Located behind St Mark’s warehouse is Carpaccio Square, which contains the Column of St Justine from 1572. The column is ornamented with the Koper coat-of-arms, which was placed there to commemorate the victory in the Battle of Lepanto, in which a galley from Koper took part. Found along the same axis as the Column of St Justine is well from the mid-15th century, shaped like a capital. The well was transported here from Venice and was placed in Carpaccio Square as late as 1935. Located in the Square, at number 6, is a Venetian-Gothic residential two-storey building from the 14th century, known as the Carpaccio House. Even though legend has it that the Venetian painter Vittore Carpaccio was born there, it seems that Vittore’s son Benedetto Carpaccio resided in the house, allegedly until the mid-16th century. This beautiful example of Gothic architecture, ornamented with Gothic windows on the top floor, owes its present look to thorough renovations in 1935 and 1955.
At Beel we are offering e-bike sales, rentals and tours. The store is based on Carpaccio Square in Koper, Slovenia. Our mission is to let you know the beauties of our country in an easy, fast and reliable way.
Our mission is to let you know the beauties of our country in an easy, fast and reliable way.
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