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The ancient port of Bastija

Grožnjan’s port of Bastija was located about 10 kilometres upstream of the Mirna river estuary, which is why Grožnjan was known as a port town until the 19th century.
Although there are no visible traces attesting to the port’s existence, the Church of Our Lady of Baštija about a kilometre downstream of Ponte Porton reminds us it was once there.
Some sources say that the name Bastija, Bastia or Baštija comes from the word for a defensive tower built by the Venetians.
It is believed that during the Roman era, the river Mirna was navigable all the way to the Pietrapelosa Castle in Buzet. The strategic importance of Port Bastija in Grožnjan in both the Middle Ages and the Modern Era stemmed from the fact that it enabled trade with Venice, as attested by the tariff from 1726 inscribed on a stone tablet on the square in Vižinada.
Among the most exported goods were timber from the Motovun Forest, intended for the Venetian shipyard, and agricultural products. The river’s navigability depended on the water level, since the sea did not extend far inland. Wooden rowing boats travelled to Istarske toplice and carried amphorae and pottery, while shallow-draft batana and batela boats sailed from Toplice to Buzet.
With the fall of the Republic of Venice in 1797, canal maintenance was neglected and grasslands quickly turned into wetlands. Along came malaria, which was eradicated as late as the era of the Kingdom of Italy, when the wetlands were drained and reconverted into agricultural land. With the development of road traffic, inland waterway transport was no longer an option in this area.
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