Municipality of Svetvinčenat | Cultural heritage
The beginnings of the castle
The Morosini-Grimani Castle is one of the best-preserved castles on the Istrian peninsula and it is the largest edifice in Svetvinčenat, which has been a symbol of the place and destination for centuries. Over the centuries, the castle gradually developed, but all started with the de Castro Pola family when the domus (house) of the family actually functioned on the site of the castle palace in the middle of the 13th century. De Castro Pola family were feudal landowners of Svetvinčenat and its surroundings from the 13th century until 1467th, when the estate passed into the hands of the Morosini family.
The Morosini-Grimani Castle had many symbolic meaning for Svetvinčenat and its residents. Its origin is attributed to the merging of the tradition of the countryside, agricultural economy and defense function. Built on the edge of the so-called "Žlinja", on a slightly elevated place, the castle is located at the site of difficult attacks. Soon, the defensive wall in the northern part is built , and each subsequent construction followed the defensive function and usability of the castle. Due to the proximity of the border (Austro-Hungarian and Venetian), the castle was the seat of the military crew, and as a border fortress of the Venetian part of Istria, the castle occasionally served as the main seat of military operations in conflicts against Austria. The inner walls therefore served to protect people and food supplies during the siege, especially because Svetvinčenat was the seat of a large feud-agricultural estate where there was a warehouse of grain supplies.
When Morosini dalla Sbarra family became the owners of the castle, a thorough transformation of the place has been made. A new, planned settlement of Renaissance style features was formed around the newly built castle. Thanks to the investments of the Morosini family, this period was especially marked by the upgrade of castles and settlements that have been since then, considered as one of the most beautiful examples of Renaissance architecture in Istria. In 1485th, the Morosini family completed the construction of the castle in its basic form as we know it today. The ground floor and the first floor were intended for economic activities, the second floor was set aside for the affairs of the captain and an armoury. Captains represented the owners and were in charge of managing the property. Captain was staying with his family on the third floor.
There were also two jails: One for minor offenders was beneath the stairway leading to the palace, while the other, for those guilty of serious offences, was in the subterranean rooms of the square tower. The square clocktower served as the main watchtower. It was also stocked with weapons and and an alarm bell. The extent of the change brought about by the Renaissance period development is expressed by the fact that Svetvinčenat is referred to as a village (villa) in all documents that precede these architectural interventions, while in later documents it is referred to as a castle (castello), i.e. a lower status urban settlement.
With the marriage of Morosina Morosini to Marino Grimani, the castle became the property of the Grimani di San Luca family. To these eminent individuals from the circles of the Venetian aristocracy, the castle brought significant revenues as they exploited and managed the feudal estate of San Vincenti from the second half of the 15th century to the middle of the 19th century. In 1586th, the castle was caught in a fire and was thoroughly restored by Marino Grimani according to the design of the Venetian architects Scamozzi and Campagne. At the end of the Second World War, the castle was burned once again.