Registration for LegendFest PIĆAN 2017 programme is now CLOSED! Thank you to all participants who submitted their projects.

The theme of the festival: NIGHTMARES AND DREAMS

Stories, legends and myths about nightmares and dreams primarily related to Istria and Istrian County will have a priority in the selection, although programs that may contain similar themes such as listed below will also be accepted:

  • Legends and myths from the town of Pićan and Istria County
  • Witches, krsniks/wizards, mystical creatures, spirits, nightmares, dwarfs
  • Alchemists, aristocrats, military generals
  • Historical figures/personalities
  • Old stories, customs, traditions, folktales…

We kindly ask the performers whose programmes are accepted at the LegendFest to comply with the arranged dates of their programmes and to adopt the highest degree of professionalism in dealing with all aspects of the festival, so that LegendFest is as successful as possible in order to offer visitors a real Legend experience they deserve. Thank you and see you at the LegendFest!

About Pićan

Pićan (Ital. Pedena, Ger. Biben), a settlement dating back to prehistorical times, was built here due to its extremely favourable position, and later on, during the Roman era it became a military base – Petina.

Pićan is a medieval town built on a prehistorical site. Over time it underwent many modifications due to structural changes in the population as well as the loss of significance as an administrative centre. Like many other similar settlements in Istria, Pićan has been affected by gradual decay. In the Medieval times the town wall was built. Its most preserved part today are the monumental gates dating back to the 16th century.

Pićan is one of the most valuable monuments of the cultural heritage in the former Labin County and it was pronounced a monument of culture in 1962.

Find out more about Pićan on the official website of Central Istria www.central-istria.com/pican.

Town history

Diocese of Pićan

The medieval development of Pićan is closely related to the founding of the Diocese of Pićan in the 5th century. The Diocese of Pićan was the 5th established one – after the Diocese of Rome, and along with the Dioceses of Poreč and Trieste it is one of the oldest on the peninsula.

By the order of Joseph II., pope Pius VI abolished the Diocese on 20th of August 1788 with the bull Super specula militantis Ecclesiae, and its last bishop was Aldrago Piccardi.

Pićan is still a Diocese and it even has its bishop who is, like all the others, appointed by the Holy Father Pope. The current titular bishop of the Diocese of Pićan is Mons. Valentin Pozaić, the auxiliary bishop of the Zagreb Diocese.

The famous Istrian populist Božo Milanović recorded the visit of the Austro-Hungarian heir to the throne Franz Ferdinand to Pićan, where he drank the wide-known Pićan wine after having seen the church. He was murdered in Sarajevo not long afterwards.

As the legend says, St. Nicephorus was the first bishop of Pićan. His body is now located in Umag and a relic of his hand is being kept in Pićan, at the request of the bishop himself. Having spent his life as a martyr, he was later declared a saint.

There is another saint praised in Pićan – St. Nicephorus the martyr. In 324 the town decided to build a new church and a tomb for the body of the holy martyr Nicephorus tortured during the reign of Galileus. In order not to oppose the God’s will and the destiny, he commanded to put this holy treasure into a sealed chest on a small boat with a few priests and lit candles on it. His wish was to leave the ship’s sail at the will of the wind and to disembark, build and dedicate a church to the martyr in the land where the boat docks. Upon receiving the task, the sailboat departed from the port Salonika where St. Nicephorus’ homeland and former grave was.

After quite a long sea cruise, the wind’s force carried them to the coast of the Liburnian bay. The holy object, locked in the chest, was then mounted to an intractable horse which they afterwards let free. The horse, intractable as it was, wandered all the way to Pićan where he calmly stopped on the site where a cathedral stands now – the present parish church of the Annunciation.

There’s another Pićan legend of St. Nicephorus as an old man who lived poorly with his two nieces.They would sleep in the same bed during the cold days. His enemies falsely accused him of living sinfully with his nieces so the pope summoned him to Rome to justify himself. Embarking on a long journey he cursed his detractors to dance barefoot on thorns until they repent and so the expression ”Trnoplesari” (Thorndancers), used for the inhabitants of Pićan today, was created. Nicephorus rode on a donkey which was soon killed by a wolf so the holy bishop ordered the beast to carry him instead of the slayed animal. Passing through the arid area, Nicephorus struck a rock with his stick in a few places and those became sources of potable water. Once he made it to Koper he laid his coat on the sea surface and crossed over to the other side of the Adriatic Sea. When he came to the Pope in Rome, he hung his wet coat on asunbeam, which remained levitating in the air. The Pope then acquitted him of all defamations and restored him his honour. St. Nicephorus went back to Istria then.

Antonio Zara the most famous Pićan bishop, counsellor of the invincible emperor Ferdinand II. – King of Germany, Hungary and Czech Republic. The construction of the parish church, which was later reconstructed several times, began in his time. The main altar was adorned with the altarpiece of Valerium Metzinger from 1738.Many other extremely valuable pictures, statues and sacral valuables can be found in the church and parish museum. The emperor’s mantle embroidered with gold, a gift from the Austrian empress Maria Theresa to the Diocese of Pićan, stands out among many valuables, along with a valuable sacristy closet – a unique item from 1741 made out of boiled walnut with gilded ornaments and a cross belonging to the early Gothic.

Surrounding area

Tupljak – probably the most know town of the Pićan municipality outside of Istria, mainly because of its mine and the famous miners’ strike which happens to coincide with the date of the well-known Labin Republic. What is more, among the local population Tupljak is famous for its feast of St. Bartholomew–the protector of the Tupljak Parish. The first Sunday after the St. Bartholomew feast (24th of August) the worshipers gather in a small church of St. Bartholomew not far from the mine. The church dates back to the XIV century and according to the tradition it was moved to the current location from Goretin. The church where the wooden statues of St. Bartholomew, St. Sebastian and St. Roch are located was renewed twenty years ago. The church of St. Hadrian the Pope, built in 1796, is also situated in Tupljak and it has been recently renovated due to the damage from the lightning impact.

Krbune – it is difficult to recognize the former centre with a school, church and other facilities in this old, abandoned Istrian town. The town was first mentioned in the 1325 and the parish in 1653 census, although it’s known that it is even older than that. The parish church of St. John the Baptist was built in 1694 on a site of an old sacral building, which allegedly had Glagolitic graffiti on it. In the parish archives from 1698 there is a register of births bound in Glagolitic parchment from the XIV century. The church was extended and restored in 1906. There are three marble altars in it. At the main altar there is a picture of St. John the Baptist and with side chapels with the altarpiece depicting The Immaculate Virgin Mary and Deliverance of souls from the Purgatory. The church of St. Martin with the statue of St. Martin from 1739 is located at the Krbune cemetery.

Saint Catherine – the inhabitants of St. Catherine along with numerous surrounding hamlets(34) above the Raška valley have been worshiping the God for centuries in the small church of St. Catherine, built in 1351 and renewed and expanded in 1868.

Town sights

Cultural heritage

Pićan is a small Mediterranean town situated on a hill (365 meters above the sea level) surrounded with fields of wheat and vineyards. It has no precise geometric structure but it can be divided into two parts – old and new, separated by the main road. The first part consists of old buildings: the main square, city gates, the church of St. Roch and the Cathedral of the Annunciation. On an elevated position across the square, there is the city cemetery and the church of St. Michael with frescoes. We must also mention the inevitable 48 meter high bell tower thus being the 4th highest in Istria. The bell offers the best view on Učka and the surrounding area reaching even Venice during nice weather.

The city gates – according to the way the gates were built we can conclude they were made during the Roman Empire. Also, above the arc itself there is a Latin inscription witnessing they were made in the XIV and XV century.

The semicircular gates are high 4 meters. They were made out of precisely cut stone blocks which are connected to the very thin layer of plaster. There is an open square balcony at the top which served as a lookout. On the front side there are two small windows and at the rear there are gates. They took their current form during the times when Antonio Zara was the bishop. The gates are connected with the residential homes on their left and right side.

The church of St. Roch – n is situated outside the city walls. St. Roch is the famous protector of those suffering from the plague and of the place itself he gave to the inhabitants of Pićan during the plague. So the Municipality of Pićan chose exactly this saint as their protector and they celebrate it each year on the 16 of August as the Day of Municipality – ‘Rokova’.

The small church of St. Michael – is located at the edge of the cemetery. At the front there are arch shaped gates with a stone cushion above and a crest of the town of Pićan in it.

There are frescoes with a noticeable influence of the German graphics from the XIV century in the church. The central figure of the fresco is the Christ kneeling before the chalice. Along the lower edge of the painting there is a fence made out of wattle.

Renowned people

Matko Brajša Rašan – famous composer, author of the Istrian hymn ”Krasna zemljo Istro mila…” was born in Pićan on 11 of December 1859. During his lifetime he did a lotto preserve the Istrian identity and according to many he’s one of the most recognized guardians of the traditional Istrian music and folklore. He is the author of numerous compositions which clearly express his love for Istria, especially the ones for the choirs. He left Pićan in 1923 during the persecution of fascists hoping to return to his hometown some day. Unfortunately he died in 1934 never to return to his dear hometown Pićan again.

Matko Brajša Rašan is famous as a composer and a collector of Istrian folklore songs, he was a loyal devotee to Istrian folklore, which was led by the bishop Juraj Dobrila and he proved his love to Istria with his compositions. Matko Brajša Rašan was also known as a great singer and even though he was a lawyer by profession he leaned towards music, singing, composing and collecting Istrian folk songs. Yet he had to work as a clerk so as to take care of his family: wife Maria and children Stojan, Cyril, Metod and Jelka. His last workplace was in Pazin where he worked as a municipal secretary and after that he emigrated from Istria.

Istrian hymn was finished in 1912 and that’s when his youngest daughter Jelka sang it to her father. By the 1908 he collected more than 250 Istrian folk, secular and church songs and published a collection of a great significance, which preserved the features of the old Istrian two part singing. He wrote this song as an Istrian hymn but because of its name it wasn’t accepted.

When Brajša emigrated, he took a lump of red earth along. He carried that lump with him to the grave where today stand verses of an Istrian Minorite Leonard Kalac:

Through song you worshiped the Istria beloved

Its freedom was what you craved for

Now say your prayers in God’s lap

For its Resurrection Day to come!


How to reach Pićan?

You can reach Pićan by the freeway Zagreb-Rijeka, exit Rijeka-Kun, Učka tunnel, continue in the direction of Pazin East, Pićan.


Camping in Pićan

Visitors can camp during the Festival. Under the main playground in the centre of Pićan itself, there’s a location for pitching a tent provided. The number of camping places is limited.

Other accommodation

For other accommodations visit website of the Tourist Board of Istria.

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Published by: Vlatko Martinčić

Upcoming festivals in Pićan