The Mirna is the most beautiful and longest river on the Istia Peninsula. Italians call it Fiume Quieto.
The Mirna spring is 32 km upstream from the mouth into the Adriatic Sea, in the valley and Kotli near Hum – the smallest city in the world! Kotli was named after the characteristic springs and it looks like boilers with boiling water.
It is interesting the fact that till 1500 the river Mirna was navigable all the way of its flow to the Baštija port in the foot of the Grožnjan. However, for centuries in the past the Mirna River has inflicted sand and gravel in its river bed and so became more shallow, especially at the mouth near Novigrad.
The Mirna River today has in most of its course specifically new, artificially constructed river bed right as a train track. There were public disagreements and initiatives to return the bed of the Mirna River into its old bed, but, beauty is undeniable and if the plans about the flow control had realized it would have remained the legend of the new – old beautiful Mirna River. It is not possible to have two Mirna River.
Let’s go back in the past when the ships (10m long and depth gauge of 1.5 m) sailed upstream to Grožnjan. They were mostly ships with oars that were carrying the amphora with goods. It was possible because at that time the sea level was higher than the mouth and the bed of the Mirna River, downstream of Grožnjan, in the lower flow it mixed the salt and fresh water. It has written evidence that the inhabitants practiced rafting the Kostajnica river, carried by water flow downstream and they were dragged upstream with ropes and with the help of donkeys.
In the Tarske vali there are still existing monuments of ships with oars. Last ships with oars sailed in the 19th a century and later on with the construction of “wine” railways with narrow rails completely disappeared. (read an interesting article about railway with the narrow rails “Šarganska osmica”).
This famous “wine” route is known as Parenzana connecting Trieste and Poreč (Porec) through Koper, Piran, Buja, Grožnjan, Motovun… and is a 123 km long. It goes through the eleven bridges, nine tunnels…
At the mouth of the Mirna was founded a village Antenal, once an important port and crossroad. Through the mouth of the Mirna River it was built a bridge and dam over which the road leads to Poreč.
Even in Roman times the mouth of the Mirna River and the Antenal were great transport center through which passes an important maritime and land routes. Here there was the second largest port in the northern Adriatic Porto Quieto. From this port was only bigger port in Venice. According to written documents of Bishop Tommasini, it is known that over 50 ships under different flags were having a rest here.
The upper flow of the Mirna River is tortuous like a mountain river. Following the elevation, the river flow is getting calmer until eventually it came down in a picturesque valley.
In the upper flow there are a few preserved mills which represent hidden tourist attractions. They say that there are so many mills here once and that the locals actively deal with the milling. Today there are only a few left. Considerable resources and efforts as well are invested, even from EU funds to preserve and revitalize mills.
However, the biggest impression on the Mirna River, is while you are sailing down in the fourteenth kilometer from the spring, a picturesque and colorful hill where is as a crown placed Motovun.
Downstream of the Motovun, the Mirna River becomes quiet as its name suggests.
Photo: Vladimir Plavljanić
Written by: Miroslav Bronzić
Published on: 04.03.2011