Fažana is a small fishing town that is famous for its harbour, starting point for cruises to Brijuni Islands, but it is itself interesting and worth at least a few hours of your time before embarking or disembarking the vessel to the nearby national park.
Even in Roman times Fažana was famous for fishing, as well as for the cultivation of olive trees and grape. Oil and wine were then transported in amphorae, so a workshop for the production of those ancient vessels was opened in the early first century in Fažana. According to the stamps on them, it was revealed that the first owners were members of the senatorial family Lecanii. Amphorae filled with olive oil and wine produced from Fažana grapes mostly ended in today's Austria, Hungary and Slovenia, but also in northern Italy, and sometimes even in the middle of the Empire - in Rome!
During the Middle Ages the most sacred objects visible today were built and Fažana became relatively large local center in that time. For example, in the middle of the 18th century Pula had about 700 inhabitants, only 200 more than Fažana. Today, that ratio is much higher - Pula, per the census of the year 2011, has over 55 000 residents and Fažana just a bit over 3000.
In the 20th century Fažana has developed from predominantly agricultural-fishing village into a real urban center. Several factories were open, including well known one for processing fish, primarily sardines. That factory was moved away in the 1950s, but the tradition of 'worship' of sardines has continued until today. Towards the end of the millennium, such factories have been slowly closed down and Fažana has increasingly turned to tourism.
Brijuni Islands played major role in this development after they were declared a national park in the year 1983. Croatian independence and beginning of the third millennium brought Fažana status of an independent municipality, which gave a new impulse to tourism and Fažana incresased overnight stays to more than 1 400 000 in the year 2011, as opposed to 136 000 in 2001.
Events in Fažana
Almost all events in Fažana are related to the local fish-breadwinners - sardines! They are gathered under the umbrella title 'Small Fishing Academy of Sardines' and include multiple events from spring to autumn.
In May, the fishermen in Fažana School of Salting teach all interested secrets of perfect salting of fish. June brings Sea on the Table, the event at which the local wine can be tasted, together with sardines prepared in many different ways, similar to Rhapsody in Blue in September.
Two August fishing festivals - Festival of the Sardines and Things That Fishermen Know occupy the prime period in the high season. There you have the opportunity to learn more about the art of fishing and the preparation and use of tools for fishing, and you can participate in the demonstration of fishing. Of course, in the evening you can enjoy the fishing catch - your own or of those who are more skilled in the art of fishing.
What to visit (sights) in Fažana
The charm of Fažana primarily lies in narrow streets with the multitude of clustered houses with colorful facades. Walking these streets is the best way to sense the atmosphere of this small town.
Among the important buildings, particularly noticeable is Parish church of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, whose bell tower dominates the whole town. This Gothic church with Baroque elements is dedicated to the two Christian martyrs persecuted during the reign of Emperor Diocletian. These twin brothers were physicians who did not accept any payment for their services. By that way they attracted many people to Christianity. For the government that was unforgivable offense and they were executed in late 3rd or early 4th century.
The bell tower is 27 meters tall and it is the first thing you see when entering the Fažana harbor. While the church of St. Cosmas and St. Damian is the tallest structure in Fažana, it is at the same time considered as the church closest to sea level in Istria - a mere meter above sea level!
Of course, there is one area with attractions related to sardines - Pilchard Park. It is a promenade where in the year 2006 sculptures by which artists paid tribute to Fažana fishing tradition were exhibited. Names of sculptures, inspired by an old dialect of local fishermen, are also interesting - Lastra, Frege, Ardora etc.
Accommodation in Fažana
For a relatively small town, Fažana has a fairly big number of ho(s)tels and other accommodation units.
In the center of town, near the church of St. Cosmas and St. Damian, is the Hotel Marina. Besides the great location with a view of the Brijuni Islands, among its most important qualities is a very good restaurant with a terrace that also overlooks the sea. A hundred meters away there is a hostel Amfora, with well-furnished and equipped rooms, but without en-suite rooms. If you are looking for something more luxurious, there is the Hotel Villa Letan, a little bit outside of the town. It has a swimming pool and a wellness center.