Koper

Koper (Italian: Capodistria) is Slovenia's only commercial port and one of its oldest towns with a very rich history.

Praetorian palace on Tito square (Dinner in the city)
Taverna, the former salt warehouse

Understand

Koper, the oldest town in Slovenia, developed on a rocky island with the Roman name Capris. Out of the three Slovenian coast cities (Koper, Izola, Piran), Koper has experienced the most numerous layout modifications. The reasons for that also need to be sought in the changes of various reigns and states, all of which marked the city with their specific traits and names. Koper was called Capris in Roman times, in the times of the pope Gregory I (599) Insula Capraria (“goat island”), Iustinopolis under the Byzantine Empire (between mid 6th and 8th centuries) and Caput Histriae (‘head of Istria’) by the Aquileia Patriarchs. The Venetians rendered that name into the Italian form, Capodistria. The Slovenian equivalent of the name is Koper.

The longest reign over the city was that of the Venetian Republic (1279-1797), when Koper experienced economic (trade, salt production) and cultural prosperity (painting, music). The Venetian period is still echoed by the city architecture; despite numerous modern interventions, it has preserved its medieval character, with the city of Koper being a member of the European Association of Medieval Cities. In the Middle Ages, Koper was an island surrounded by walls and connected with the mainland with a wood bridge in the direction of Škocjan. It was protected by a mighty fortress – Lion Castle, and surrounded by vast saltpans. Koper’s importance began to diminish in the 18th century, when Trieste was proclaimed a free port, and ultimately ended with the downfall of the Venetian Republic.

In the period from the 19th century to the First World War (i.e. from the Napoleonic Empire 1806-1813 to the Hapsburg Monarchy 1813-1918), Koper experienced numerous changes in the economic and social development. This period was marked by the reduction of the saltpans, which were entirely abandoned in 1912, and the changing layout of the city, which began to lose its island character. In 1825, a second road connection with the mainland was constructed (Semedela Road) followed by the coastal road in the middle 19th century, a sea connection with Trieste-Poreč and the railway connection Trieste-Poreč in 1902.

Under the Italian Empire, Koper entirely lost its island character by means of the draining of the deserted saltpans.

The time after the Second World War brought further changes. Until the final determination of the boarder with Italy through the signing of the London Memorandum in 1954, when it officially became part of former Yugoslavia, Koper was part of Zone B administered by the Yugoslav national Army, first belonging to the Julian March and from September 1947 to the neutral state called the Free Trieste Territory (FTT). As part of Yugoslavia, Koper experienced profound changes in its national structure. This also brought about new architectural interventions both in the city centre and its surroundings, especially in terms of huge development with the construction of the port.

Today, Koper is both an commercial and tourist city, continuing to develop its offer in terms of seaside resorts, nautical tourism, sports and shopping. It has also become a University City.

Get in

Koper has a very frequent bus connection with nearby towns of the Slovenian coast (Izola, Portorož, Piran). The buses from Koper or to Koper depart every 20-30 minutes.

Koper panoramic view (former island)

Koper is easily reachable with bus and train. The train and bus stations are adjacent and located about 1 km south of the Muda Gate to the old city. The nearest airport is west of Trieste (64 km), although Ljubljana's (124 km) is also an option.

From Ljubljana, there are hourly buses and 5-6 trains daily, both taking around two hours. There are also direct bus services to Trieste in Italy between 3 and 6 times a day costing about €3. The journey between Trieste and Koper takes between 30 and 60 minutes.

Get around

Koper's Old City can easily be covered on foot. There are also a number local buses that can take you from the main bus station to the old city centre or the newer urban and industrial area. Bus lines and timetables

Talk

Slovenian and Italian are spoken in the town. English is also a language spoken by the majority of the people.

See

Koper old town

Koper's main sight of interest is the Venetian-era old city, of which the main structures and squares have been fully renovated and restored. The main square (Tito square) is one of the nicest Venetian type squares in the Mediterranean.

Tito square, Koper

The centre of the old city is Tito Square (Titov trg), an austere piazza surrounded by The Praetorian Palace, Loggia, Cathedral of the Assumption, Campanile, Foresteria and Armeria. From here, the cobbled Čevljarska ulica leads south to the Prešeren square with the De Ponte fountain and the old town entrance Muda gate, Kidričeva ulica leads west to the Marina, the old salt warehouse named Taverna and the Carpaccio square.

The interior of the Cathedral of the Assumption
Christmas in Koper

Koper Hinterland

The church of The Holy Trinity with the famous Dance of Death
Abitanti, typical Istrian village
Škocjanski zatok Natural park
Brič vineyards
Pregara, Slovenian Provansa

Do

There are is a public beach in the sea just west of the marina. A large sports area called Bonifika (basketball, football, running track, tennis courts, etc.) is located near the old city centre. Near the industrial area of the Port of Koper (very close to the city centre), there is a natural park called Škocjanki zatok, which is a perfect place for enjoying the flora and fauna of this natural resort.

Buy

There are several shopping centres, for example: Planet Tuš Shopping Centre, Mercator, Supernova and SPAR. There is also a big department store called Zeleni park where you will also find OVS store. In the city centre there are numerous offers offered by the Koper Card; discounts and presents at the city providers identified by the Koper Card label. The discounts may be used many times during the validity period of the card, at every purchase or service order at the providers. Koper Card is also used together with its cupons, which are used for getting free entrances into Koper`s main monuments (the Bell tower, Praetorian Palace, Regional museum and the Ethnological collection).

Eat

In Koper you will find many taverns and restaurants, offering plenty of choice for food. You should try one or more of the many taverns and restaurants, snack bars and local smaller taverns offering local food and wine, Pizzerias, traditional Osmicas (farmers offering home made food and wine), sweetshops and tourist farms with traditional home made Istrian food.

When in Koper, do not leave without trying some typical Istrian goodies and other typical Istrian products. Also, you should definitely try some local olive oil from local oil providers. Istrian olive oil is reputed to have many positive effects on the body.

Taverns and restaurants in Koper

Traditional Istrian meal
Typical asparagus and ham omlette
Traditional Olive oil
Delicious sea food

Taverns and restaurants in the hinterland

Drink

In Koper you will find a variety of bars and pubs with a various offer of styles and drinks, bigger and smaller wine cellars with rich local wine offerings.

Bars, pubs and caffes

Wine cellars

Sleep

Budget

Mid-range

Go next

The rest of Slovenia's short coastline is easily accessible from Koper. Public bus service is available every 20-30 minutes to:

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