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Zminj, Istria

Zminj is a small town on a limestone hill in the central part of Istria, on the road from Pula towards Pazin. There are signs of human life dating from the Palaeolithic age in the area around Zminj, also a large number of finds from the Bronze Age. Not far from the town, near the church of St. Foska, the remains of a late Classical to early Medieval settlement have been found, and in Zminj itself an early medieval Slavic burial ground (9th-11th centuries).

In the Middle Ages, Zminj was in the border area between Venetian and Austrian Istria. As part of Pazin County it was fortified by walls which are still standing on the north western side. Of the four towers which used to make up the castle, only one remains. The town suffered from German bombing during the Second World War (1943).

On the wide town square stands the Baroque Parish Church of St. Michael (Sveti Mihovil) which has a rich collection of treasures: a Baroque pulpit and a marble altar with paintings of the Venetian school (17th and 18th centuries). In the southern side chapel is a carved wooden altarpiece, the work of a local Istrian workshop from the beginning of the 17th century, with a carving of the shepherds worshipping. A Gothic crucifix is also artistically interesting. In the sacristy are outstanding ecclesiastical robes (16-18 c.). Beside the parish church, on its northern side, there is a small Gothic chapel, of the Holy Trinity (Sveto Trojstvo), which is a single-naved building, with a lancet vault in the nave, and a four-sided apse. The chapel contains high quality frescoes from 1471, with scenes from the life of Christ. These are in the so-called "soft style" characteristic of artwork from Alpine regions at that time. At the south west entrance to the town stands the early Gothic Fraternity Chapel of St. Anthony (Sveti Antun) which was built by the master Armigirius in 1381. The chapel is single-naved with a four-cornered apse and barrel and lancet vaults. The window on the eastern wall has a stone transenna and the one on the south wall has stone bars. The interior of the chapel is painted with high quality late 14th century frescoes by an unknown artist clearly from one of the Venetian workshops of the Trecento.
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