There are countless ruins of towers, castles and forts, but there is only one Dvigrad – it hadn’t been torn down neither by a military force, nor by the fire, yet, it was abandoned and left in his own doom. It stands as a reminder to passengers and an acquisition to visitors of how an old Istrian medieval town was built back then.
The ruins of the medieval town Dvigrad are the most important and best-known cultural heritage of the Kanfanar municipality. The name ˝Dvigrad˝ (Duo Castra, Due Castelli, Dvegrad) indicates the existence of two parts of the town (Moncastel and Parentin) that have been mentioned since 9th and 10th century as a unique town. The mutual name remained even after the collapse of the castle Parentin, when only Moncastel remained.
Thanks to its remarkable strategic location near water and plenty of fertile ground, that area had been inhabited since the prehistoric period, and by the end of 6th century the first Slavic communities started to settle there. The land seemed neglected, since the government had not been organized yet. At that time the land was cultivated by the Benedictines, who left their traces in the Lim area in the early medieval period. In historical literature Dvigrad was mentioned for the first time in the year 879, when its church fell under the jurisdiction of Akvilanian patriarch instead of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pula. By the end of 13th century the Gothic counts took the possession of Dvigrad, when its ethnical structure gradually started to change, dominated by the Slavic nation despite the bigger immigration of German population.
Constant battles and confrontations marked the upcoming era in Dvigrad. In 1381 Venetians burnt the town and slaughtered its people, and they transferred the power from the basilica of St. Sofia to St. Lorenzo del Pasenatico (St. Lovreč Pazenatički). Venetians took authority over Dvigrad in 1413, when they established the Statute of the Dvigrad commune and annulled the patriarchs rule. Under their authority Dvigrad progressed, but at the end of 15th century the area was stricken by plague, which was soon followed by the malaria.
At the beginning of the 16th century Dvigrad was inhabited by refugees from Dalmatian hinterland and Herzegovina, who were running from the Ottomans. The Uskok war started between Venice and Austria whereupon all surrounding villages were destroyed. The people of Dvigrad started to inhabit those surrounding areas. Around 1630 the town was almost completely abandoned and only very poor families remained there. In 1714 the Dvigrad parish was moved near Kanfanar and this marked the end of Dvigrad.
A WALK THROUGH DVIGRAD
Dvigrad is situated in Limska Draga, in a deep valley spreading from Limska Draga Fjord to Pazin. The settlement is located at an altitude between 150 and 175 metres above the sea level. Today it is possible for visitors to see the ruins of Moncastel (Parentin castle, the other part of Dvigrad, was destroyed to the ground and a plateau is all that remains). The part of the town protected by the first fortification belt is reached through the existing town gate. The other gate, built in the second fortification ring, stands further down the path. That is how the town was entered: door-to-door. Along the big watchtower on the town’s south side, the path leads to the third and final gate, behind which the town centre lies.
The town is enclosed with double defence walls within which more than 200 buildings have been preserved. The central part of the settlement is dominated by St. Sofia church built in several phases. During the oldest, early Christian phase (the second half of 5th century), the church was a single-nave building with a semi-circular apse. The chancel was upgraded over time into having three semi-circular apses and frescoes. During 9th and 10th century a chapel (baptistery) and a bell tower were annexed to the south side, while in 14th century a sacristy was added to the north side. A hexagonal embossed pulpit from the same period was relocated after Dvigrad’s collapse to the Kanfanar’s parish church, where it can be seen today. Among the reliefs adorning the pulpit, the outstanding one is that of St. Sofia, holding a town in each hand. It’s a symbol of Dvigrad and a motif on Kanfanar’s coat of arms.
The most significant buildings in Dvigrad located near the town square are the town palace at the east end and bishop chapel premises at the west end. A line of military garrison facilities is to the west of the basilica. The south-west part of the town used to be an artisan zone, while other parts used to be residential.
THE LEGEND OF THE MONSTRANCE
When Dvigrad was visited during canonical visitations of bishop Tomassini of Novigrad in 1650, it was populated by three families only, and the poorest ones, too. Even the priests had left Dvigrad, only to return daily for the holy mass. Since it was difficult for them to return each day, they decided to move the holy altar sacrament and consecrated hosts from Dvigrad to Kanfanar. Upon their arrival to the church on the following morning, the monstrance with the Holy body was no longer there. They went on a search for the monstrance, finding it shining in the woods at the foot of Dvigrad. When a priest tried to take the monstrance, it started getting away, but stopped after he put on his chasuble. Thus he managed to bring it into the church, whereupon bishop Vaira officially moved the parish centre from Dvigrad to Kanfanar.
THE LEGEND OF HENRY MORGAN’S TREASURE
Henry Morgan was a notorious pirate who fought the Spanish under command of the governor of Jamaica, Thomas Modyford. His accomplishments often exceeded his jurisdiction, the greatest by far being the conquest of Panama. However, looting in Panama broke a peace treaty between Spain and England so Morgan provoked the rage of the British, who began to pursue him. According to the legend, while trying to escape from the English fleet, he was chased deep into the Adriatic Sea, and finally arrived to Limska Draga Fjord. Its meandering ways and furtiveness made an ideal hiding place for both him and his treasure. Upon anchoring ashore the Fjord, he also discovered Dvigrad, which was almost completely abandoned by that time. Therefore he decided to hide his treasure there. Henry Morgan found his new home near Dvigrad, in a village now known under the name of M(o)rgani.