Dvigrad is an abandoned town in Croatia on the Istrian peninsula. The first settlement in the spot has been traced to a hill fort from prehistoric times and functioned for centuries until it was completely abandoned in 1714. It was more or less left alone for hundreds of years, meaning it has been more or less preserved as it was in the 17th century. Most medieval towns have been destroyed or re-built and so remains an excellent example of a medieval town. More recently, some minor restoration efforts have begun, clearing out the main area of the town and fortifying some walls to prevent further ruin.
Moncastello and the founding of Divigrad
At one time there were two settlements in the area, Parentino and Moncastello. These towns had been known to the Romans as Dio Castra ( “two camps”). At some point Parentino, on a nearby hill, was abandoned after being destroyed in a war. Moncastello was better fortified and so it was able to avoid major damage and continued on. It eventually came to be known as Dvigrad, or Duecastelli, which translates to “two castles” in Latin.
In the 16th and 17th centuries the area was hit hard by war, malaria, and and plague. Around 1630 most of the 700 people that had lived in Dvigrad left and re-settled in nearby Kanfanara. Only a few families remained in the town, all of whom left in 1714, at which point the town was completely abandoned.
At the top of the hill you’ll find the old castle and the Church of St. Sophia. These are the two largest structures in Dvigrad. Unfortunately, the church is the only building that you aren’t able to walk into, since gates have recently been added prevent further damage. The Christian church dates back to about the 5th century when the oldest section was first built. In later centuries additional sections were added, the most recent addition was added around the 13th century.
While the village seems on the small side at first glance, it’s actually a lot bigger than you realize. Aside from the obvious paths throughout the main part of the village at the top of the hill, you can also find some more overgrown areas that wander further out. If you don’t mind walking through the shrubbery, you’ll find some of the smaller houses covered in greenery. In all, there are remains from about 200 homes in Dvigrad ready for exploration.