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Vrsar, Istria

Vrsar has been inhabited since prehistoric times. In the immediate surroundings, on the peaks of nearby hills, there are the remains of Illyrian settlements (fortresses). In ancient times it was called Ursaria (ursus means bear) from which derived the present name Vrsar. It was a good harbour from where the ancient people exported, amongst other things, Istrian stone. On the sea front there are the remains of a Roman country villa (villa rustica).

In the early Middle Ages Vrsar came under the Porec Bishopric, and was the bishop's summer residence, which is why the town was fortified relatively early. The old town centre developed around the bishop's castle (later Kastel Vergotini). The western town gates are still standing and beside them an 18th century chapel, with a characteristic upper room. From the Romanesque era, when Vrsar was a town settlement on top of a hill, the Parish Church of St. Mary (Sveta Marija) remains. It has a nave and two aisles, with three apses, of which the central one is longer than the other two. It dates from the 12th century and is one of the most significant Romanesque buildings in Istria. The Dusan Dzamonja Gallery, Valkanela 5 (a street in the direction of Porec). Gallery, Workshop and Sculpture Park of Dusan Dzamonja (born 1928), renowned Croatian sculptor with a higly personal style, very well regarded in the world at large. Dzamonja's works are exhibited in many of the world's major cities, for example in the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate Gallery in London and the Musee National d'Art Moderne in Paris.
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