Municipality of Sveti Lovreč
Municipality of Sveti Lovreč was established in 1992, after the rearrangement of territorial administration. The name came from the patron saint, St. Laurent, so the Municipal holiday is August 10th. The town’s placement on a mild uphill (elevation varies between 195 and 210 meters) that dominates the space of 22 settlements – villages and hamlets, speaks of its significant role in the past.
1.015 inhabitants, 54 km2
According to the 2011 Census, Municipality’s population is 1.015, and the area is 54 km2.
Medieval democracy in Sveti Lovreč
The first mention of Sveti Lovreč was on a map from 1030 as “castrum sancti Laurentii”. In 1186, Sveti Lovreč was already organized as a municipality (commune). It was the first organized rural municipality in Istria, and 4th municipality in entire Istria, after Trieste (1139), Pula (1145), and Koper (1182).
The fortified town, castle Sveti Lovreč voluntarily places itself under Venetian protection whose High Council accepts the protection over Sveti Lovreč on November 25th, 1271 under the same conditions as for other towns: in the next two years the city will be ruled by a Podesta selected by the Doge. In order to supervise and to create a military link to the area, Venice created a special institution, the so called pazenatik, a Venetian country area. The head of this pazenatik is a Captain. Sveti Lovreč becomes the seat for the Captain in 1304 and remains so until the seat was moved to Rašpor near Buzet. The first Captain in Sveti Lovreč was Pietro Zeno. Since Lovreč was the seat of military power and directly under the rule of Venetian Senate with which it communicated direcly, the Town itself needed to be fortified, so the fortification system was built. Most of those still stand today. Within the town walls, the traditional administrative functions of the town were maintained, with many living areas along with a square, numerous shops and a small church. Since the walls of Sveti Lovreč are oval in shape, the nearby buildings surround the town in the shape of a ring. Difficult living conditions, constant recruitments due to wars and illnesses, malaria and plague have resulted in a large depopulation of Lovreč area so the immigration processes here will have the same form and dynamics as those in the coastal area of Istria. The situation in Lovreč area is additionally more complicated by the vicinity of Pazin County in which Austria moved its undesirable citizens, especially the Uskoks after the Treaty of Madrid and the constant presence of defectors. The settlement will last until the end of 17th, and even into the 18th century, but those will be exclusively the defectors from the Pazin County with which the people of Lovreč will be in conflict due to the constant invasions of defectors and brigands into Sveti Lovreč territory.
In order to improve their condition, the people from Lovreč took an unprecedented measure – in the 16th century, they elected a new council of 10 members: 3 noblemen, 3 town’s commoners and 4 representatives from Baderna and its area. This was a sort of general assembly of all strata of society and a democratic election that may well be a model for today. Lovreč has thus secured a high level of autonomy that will, however, often clash with Venetian bureaucracy. The 18th century saw prosperity so the Podesta of Lovreč was the second highest paid Podesta, after the Labin one, in Venetian Istria.
Natural treasure of Sveti Lovreč
Along slightly indented coastline of west Istria, there are several deep bays, of which Limski zaljev is partially on Sveti Lovreč territory. It presents a natural occurrence of great scientific and aesthetic value, it was proclaimed special marine reserve in 1964, and today it is a significant mussel farm.