History of the city of Portoroz and Piran

Portoroz and Piran – Spa Sea and Venetian Republica

The history of Portoroz dates back to the 13th century, when it was known as a health resort, where the monks of the Monastery of St. Lawrence treated with sea water and brine. The healing effects were known in the surrounding area and further afield. Piran - the city of culture, music, museums and galleries is a unique medieval backdrop for visitors and cultural events. 

Portoroz was under Venetian rule until the collapse of the Venetian Republic at the end of the 18th century, when it came under Austrian rule, under which it remained until the end of World War I. For a few years it was still under the French.

In the 19th century, rheumatic and other ailments were treated here with salt mud compresses, baths and drinking brine. The reputation for the healing power of the salt substances and the successful treatment spread from the surrounding countryside and soon spread to more distant parts of Austria-Hungary.

The arrival of many guests has led to the construction of new villas and guesthouses. Later, a joint-stock company was set up to build a spa and bathing resort in Portorož. A year later, the bathing company "Stabilimento balneare di Pirano". They bought a building plot from the Piran Salt Pans and decided to build a new hotel with a restaurant, a café and a thermal area. This was the forerunner of the Hotel Palace, which opened in 1910 and was equipped with the most modern therapeutic devices of the time. In front of the hotel, there was a sand bathing area. The Palace was revitalised in October 2008.

Over time, Portoroz began to gain an international character and reputation. Despite the opposition to casinos, casinos were opened in the Austrian Empire in Opatija, Portoroz and Graz, as if on a conveyor belt. The concession for the Casinò des Etrangers in Villa San Lorenzo (on the site of today's Grand Hotel Metropol).

Tourism boomed again after World War II. Ten years later, the new Terme Talasoterapija Portorož was built, linked to four hotels, which have been expanded, improved and refreshed in recent years and are now known as Lifeclass hotels.

In 1976, two more hotels from the current group, the then Bernardin Hotel (now Histrion) and the Vile Park Hotel, started operating. A year later, the construction of the Pecina Hotel, later the Emona Hotel, now the Grand Hotel Bernardin, was completed. The hotel complex was built to attract American soldiers from the nearby NATO base in Aviano, who never really holidayed in these hotels.

On the other side are the Metropol Hotels with Casino Portoroz. In socialist Yugoslavia, gambling was not a highly valued activity, but the casino was nevertheless respected because it brought many well-paid jobs and helped to build a richer tourist offer and infrastructure.

Piran is a very special, precious place and the best preserved urban cultural monument in Slovenian Istria. Its image is recognised all over the world. The town's architecture, which was strongly influenced by the Venetian Republic and which has also had a significant impact on other Istrian towns, is a must-see and experience. As soon as you enter the city, you are in front of Tartini Square, the centre of the city. The elliptical white stone plaza is surrounded by the varied palaces of Piran. On the eastern side of the square, you can see a Baroque house. At the other end, where the square meets IX. Korpus Street (by the town café), a palace with stone decoration - the Venetian house - stands out.

There is a promenade along the seafront, where you can enjoy refreshments in the many cafés and tavernas offering a wide range of seafood and drinks. On every corner of Piran, architectural, pictorial and sculptural gems remind you that culture is not just on display in museums, but adorns the city's everyday life.

You can get here by bike from Koper to Izola and from there along the cycle path of the famous "Parenzana" narrow-gauge railway, which runs on the abandoned narrow-gauge railway line between Trieste and Poreč. The panoramic ride passes many hidden spots along the entire Slovenian coast, including the salt fields and the famous Belvedere and Valletta tunnels.

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