Koper is one of the oldest and the fifth largest Slovenian city, at the same time, with 25.319 inhabitants, is also the biggest settlement in Slovenian Istria. In addition to Slovenian language, the second official language is Italian, as here also live members of the Italian national community. City municipality Koper, with the administrative center in city Koper, is seventh largest municipality by area and forth by a total number of inhabitants. Directly next to the city is international freight port Luka Koper, which is the only that kind in Slovenia. City Koper is divided into eight city districts, which are Bonifika, Center, Markovec, Olmo, Prisoje, Semedela, Šarala and Žusterna.
City Koper is the city of hundreds of suns, which adorn medieval Venetian palaces. Here, the sun heats the lagoon of Škocjan Inlet with hundreds of bird species, Kraški rob (en. Karst corner) and world famous climbing sites. It is one of the oldest Slovenian city, which is also most overlooked for his own peripheral appearance. When we drive towards Portorož or Piran we can only see a large number of cranes from Koper port, but behind all of that, a beautiful and lively city center is hiding, marked by the reign of Venetian Republic, which left a fantastic architecture heritage. In the city, we can explore the labyrinth of narrow and interesting streets and many squares.
Koper, otherwise Capo d’Istria or Head of Istria once was an island and salt town. The beginnings date back to the Roman period, as mentioned the biggest mark was left by the Venetian Republic, and during this time, the city economically and culturally blossomed. With a collapse and construction of railway Trieste-Vienna, the city lost its importance, but regain it after WWII, as it again started to develop and thus became the economic capital of the coastal region and important port city.
Koper offers the view of many interesting buildings, which are scattered around the entire old city center, that is why it is best, to get lost and discover their beauties. You can walk along the coastal area and admire the waves and the beautiful view beyond the sea.
NAME OF THE CITY
Koper has been carrying different names throughout history, according to who ruled the city at the time.
- Capritana insula
- Caput Ystriae
- Caput Histriae
- Capo d’Istria
The origin of the name Koper goes to prehistory. Name Aegida is Greek-Thracian name, which resembles a shield of the Greek goddess of wisdom and knowledge Athena. Some historians place this settlement to the foot of elevation Sermin at the outflow of river Rižana into the sea, others place it to the rocky island, where later a today’s Koper developed. The settlement was mention in Naturalis Historia, the work of Pliny the Elder (or Plinius Senior). According to the legend, Athena and Poseidon quarreled and she escaped from the persecution of Poseidon to the places where Koper today stands. Between the clash of deities, Athena’s shield, coated with skin, fell into the sea. Invocation of Athena touched Zeus deeply and so he changed her shield into a knife. If we look at the island of the city from far away or from a height, it really is similar on the sea resting shield.
Many finds from the late Republican Roman period represent the oldest proofs of the settlement of the island, at that time a name Caprae or Capris or goat island was established. This ancient Roman name is supposed to originate from the fact that on the island, where at first there was no settlement, the goats were reared. Most likely, that part of the low rocky island was first inhabited by Romans, where Koper later developed.
Koper was for the first time mentioned in writing in year 599 in the letters of Pope Gregory I, city settlement occurs under the name Caprae and Insula Capritana. Older historians place the beginnings of Koper into the second half of 6. century and connect it with the name of Byzantine emperor Justin II, as he allowed them to settle on the island and establish the settlement, in his honor they named the city Justinopolis. The old and new name have been intertwined for a few centuries so that in the document from year 975 we can find written Justinopolis quae vocatur Capris.
In the year 1186 Koper becomes free commune with the elected governing body. Koper diocese becomes independent and Koper commune grants them various territories. Until the year 1208, the city was ruled by Istrian border counties and followed by the Aquileian patriarchs, who chose Koper as seat for their feudal estates in Istria, at the same time they named it Caput Histriae or Head of Istria, later they changed it into Italian Capo d’Istria.
In decades before WWI, the economic development was more favorable than the political one. Thus, new industrial plants and companies, shipyards and banks have grown in Koper area. Goods and passenger transport were important, which in the year 1882 led to the incentive for naval vanguard society Societa’ Cittadina di Navigazione a Vapore – Capodistriana. After WWI, Koper belonged to the Kingdom of Italy and stayed the seat of the municipality. Name Capodistria is Italian name for Koper.
Slovenian naming of the island and city Koper originates from domestic Istrian name Kuper, which resembles of a pile of something in the middle of the sea, or Kopar as a pile of hay, as it could be seen from surrounding humps.
If we compare vegetation in the area of Koper with real Mediterranean vegetation, there are almost no evergreen plants. The specialty of Koper littoral region are olive trees, here grows protected ornamental plant species Spanish broom (also Spartium junceum) with vivacious flowers, characteristic for Istria.
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Travel from Koper
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