Tourist Information Center:TIC Koper
Tito square 3, 6000 Koper
+386 (0)5 664 64 03
Height above sea level
in the countryside
Šmarje is a sprawling village on the apex of the fIysh ridge of the Šavrinsko gričevje (Šavrini Hills) between the tributaries of the Badaševica and the Drnica Rivers.
The village stretches across the gently sloping ridge from Poljane (406 m) in the east towards Grintovec (287 m) in the west and is comprised of the Gabrca, Dobrava and Na studencu hamlets. The oldest data about the history of Šmarje, even though scarce, dates back to Roman times. In the vicinity of Šmarje, archaeologists discovered a clay oil lamp from the 2nd century and a coin of later date. In Roman times, there was a road in this area connecting the Koper hinterland with inner Istria. There is no other data from the Roman period so far but a considerable amount from later periods. The old village centre is located around the parish church dedicated to the Immaculate Mother of God that stood here as early as the 11th century. Even in the 9th or 10th century, this was the location of a Benedictine monastery that came to a standstill around 1000 due to epidemics, war and the emergence of new parishes. In 1152, Bernard, the Bishop of Trieste and the apostle administrator for the Koper diocesan county, with the approval of the Aquileian Patriarch Pellegrino, donated the right to the houses, the church, the village and the territory of Šmarje to abbot Pasqual from the Venetian Monastery of St. George, which the Koper Chapter strongly disputed. The dispute, which grew even stronger over the subsequent centuries and even had to be solved at the highest ecclesiastical court in Rome, was finally resolved in the 14th century when the Monastery of St. George from Venice surrendered all its rights over Šmarje to the Koper Chapter. In the Middle Ages, the village (Monte di Capodistria) was a walled fortified settlement with a defence tower that was restored or strengthened in 1559 because of the dangers of Ottoman invasions. The tower protected the strategically important valley along the road that connected Koper with the Sečovlje Salt Pans. The crossroads received the name Crosera di Montetoso. From the 15th century onward, the village and its surroundings belonged to numerous noble families from Koper and it became the property of the diocese in the 17th century. In 1656, there were five brotherhoods in the area of the Šmarje parish. The parish was renovated in 1730 under Mayor Anton Gregor. In 1852, Šmarje became the headquarters of one of the new municipalities of the Koper district commission and the village received a primary school in 1861, also gradually acquiring educational and cultural associations that Italy dissolved in 1918. The village was burnt down twice during the Second World War. In memory of the numerous victims of the National Liberation War, the locals erected a monument in 1969 made by academic sculptor Jože Pohlen. After the war, the village changed substantially and only a few houses in the older village centre are still reminiscent of the former settlement, which used to be one of the largest and most important economic, administrative and cultural centres in the hinterland of Slovenian Istria.