Vrsar, Istria, official web site for tourist informations

Vrsar, Istria, official web site
for tourist information

Diving – The Mysterious Adriatic Depths

Istra is not only beautiful in its green, hilly interior and along its ever unfolding coast where the evergreen touches the Adriatic but in the sea world that surrounds it as well.

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Historical heritage in Vrsar

The name Vrsar (Italian: Orsera) is very old. In Medieval Latin documents the name appeard in different variants: Ursaria, Ursarium, Vrsarium, Orsaria…

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A Rich Culinary Tradition

All fragrances and aromas blend in Vrsar to give a harmonious overture into the characteristic gastronomy of Istria. Sea food, grilled fish and meat delicacies that can be tasted in charming restaurants and authentic konobas (taverns) are just a small part of the rich gourmet experience offered by Vrsar.

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SPORT, NATURE, ACTIVITIES…

There are many sports and activities for you to choose – tennis, football, volleyball, basketball, even bowling and mini golf.

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Natural Wonders

From the shores of the Adriatic to the lowlands and undulating hills in the hinterland, the natural wonders of Vrsar and its surroundings are the source of inspiration for every traveller desiring rest and relaxation.

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MONTRAKER QUARRY

Throughout history, Montraker was the largest and most significant quarry in Vrsar. It was exploited from prehistory until the middle of the 20th century. It was there that the famous Vrsar stone, the material many of the most significant buildings in Venice – but also across Europe and the world – are built from was mined. The abandoned cliffs of Montraker bear witness to its extraordinary economic significance and segment of the stone crafting industry, which amounted to 15 % in the total income of Vrsar throughout history. Today it is an inspiring place for holding various events and shows.

The Montraker quarry is situated on a peninsula to the northwest of the old town centre of Vrsar (on the northwestern side of the church and the old Benedictine Abbey of St Mary). Due to its size, location and historical significance, it is surely the most significant stone deposit in the area around Vrsar. Stone has been extracted from that place since probably as early as ancient history, while the stone from the quarry was used for the construction of Roman buildings around the wharf of Vrsar (horreum, villa rustica on the location of today’s Church of St Mary) and the Roman wharf itself. The continuity of stone extraction can be followed for the whole duration of the Duchy of Vrsar (until 1778), the short-lived Venetian reign (1778-1797), the French administration (1806-1813) and the Austrian rule (1797-1806 and 1813-1918) through the Italian (1918-1943) and German (1943-1945) occupation to the period of Yugoslavia (since 1945). The Montraker quarry is considered to be an ancient stone deposit and exploitation area of Vrsar.

Originally, Montraker was certainly not a single quarry, but rather consisted of several smaller exploitation zones which, were, as it seems, merged into one quarry during the late Austrian rule in the 19th century or during the Italian occupation (1918-1943). On the location of today’s abandoned quarry there was once a large hill with the same name, comparable to the hill of Vrsar on which the old town centre of Vrsar sits with regard to its height and circumference.

The material obtained from that place belongs geologically to the Upper Jurassic Period (J33). It is a markedly hard type of limestone, with a light grey colour, appearing in layers up to 2 m thick and with thin lumps of greenish feldspar. When chroniclers and archival sources speak of veins of blue stone from Vrsar, they usually refer to the stone that used to be extracted from the deposit at Montraker. The methods of stone exploitation at Montraker remained identical or similar for centuries, and changed only once dynamite mining techniques were introduced.

The stone obtained in Montraker was used for the construction of the Mestre railway bridge (Il ponte feroviario Mestre fra Veneia e la terraferma) in the 1840s (completed in 1946). The bridge is 3,601 m long, with 234 arcades, each spanning 8 m, while the Vrsar stone was used for the cladding of the bridge structure made from brick. For the transport of stone from Montraker, 46 boats and 14 ships were used permanently[1]. That exploitation project was the most significant and most comprehensive episode of Vrsar stone extraction.

The view from the Vrsar hill to the northwest reveals the abandoned Montraker quarry, a sort of “Vrsar stone desert”. Edo Murtić (1921-2005), a famous Croatian painter and ceramicist, experienced a renewed impetus in his abstract opus in the 1990s, inspired and provoked by none other than the Montraker quarry. Until 2000, he painted his “Montraker” series – scenes from the abandoned quarry – in large formats, with intensive colours, open gestures and symbols. Murtić considered Montraker to be his favourite motif; he frequently visited and observed it from his nearby studio in Vrsar.

[1] CENNI STORICI DI G. GERLIN, 1853.