When a local says “You cannot travel home before seeing Bale”, it means to me: “Yes, let’s go”! … especially when this place does not appear in most travel guides about Istria. Bale, or Valle in Italian, is one of the best hidden gems of Istria – a place that has preserved its character and original beauty as far as possible.
The picturesque Bale is a small town made entirely of stone. A place where time stood still. A place that is not destroyed by mass tourism and flourishing economy.
Bale is now one of the few places where you can still feel the real Istria!
I would recommend visiting Bale to anyone who seeks to explore off-the-beaten-path places. So, if you’re hunting for a non-touristy but picturesque piece of land in Istria, that also looks like a set from Game of Thrones – pack your camera and drive to the medieval town!
Although Bale is situated between Pula and Rovinj, you won’t find it in the tourist brochures! The little town is located on the southwestern corner of the Istrian peninsula, only 15 km from Rovinj and 20 km from Pula. But in contrast to Pula and Rovinj, Bale is not visited by many tourists … which is perfect for photography-lovers!
The history of Bale goes back to the Roman times when the small town was officially known as Castrum Vallis. Some historians assume that its origins are even older than that – before the Romans lived here, the little town was also home to Illyrian tribes.
The town of Bale is constructed entirely from stone. Its cobbled buildings, narrow streets and kitschy corners flow together into a medieval labyrinth that will bring you back in the history. Just like a time machine.
Many of Bale’s houses and also its Soardo-Bembo Citadel were built during the 14th century under Venetian rule by the powerful Soardo family. In the 16th century the beautiful Citadel, considered one of the most important monuments in Croatia, became property of the Bembo family. During the same century, the communities of Bale grew and developed around the Gothic-Renaissance Palace (the palace in the middle of the town) that also belonged to the Bembo family.
The medieval streets and houses made of stone, ancient churches and artistic vibe make Bale unique and full of atmosphere. Bale and it’s surrounding is one of the purest beauty in Istria where colourful flowers and plants, fruit trees and vegetables grow and flourish throughout the year. This area offers not only an amazing natural wealth and untouched nature but also the rich cultural and architectural heritage of the Istrian region.
Enjoy the day!