Situated in central Istria, this town is the formal capital of Istria County. Although there are no traces of prehistoric and ancient settlements, it is possible that the town originated even before 983 when it was mentioned for the first time in written documents.
When visiting Castrum Pisinum or the Castle of Pazin that became the property of the Bishop of Poreč by the emperor's deed of gift, we notice that this is a well protected fortress situated on a cliff overlooking the Pazinčica River abyss. However, its original form somewhat differed from the one today. In literature the first fortification was described as an elongated two-storey structure with a tower and church with small belfry beside it. Perhaps, in 1175 it was passed on in such a condition by the Poreč bishops to its new owner Menhard von Schwarzenburg, but there is not enough evidence about this. However, it is known that Menhard's daughter brought the Castle into the family of the Counts of Gorizia where it remained until 1374, when it was inherited by the new owners, the Habsburg family.
Ever since Menhard's rule Pazin was the center of the mighty County of Pazin which covered entire central Istria, but also the area from the Plomin hinterland over Ćićarija, reaching to Trieste. At the time of its prosperity, other towns in the surrounding flourished as well, such as Trviž, Beram, Lindar, Pićan, Gračišće to such an extent that in the 15th c. Gračišće surpassed Pazin in terms of economic power.
Regardless of economic indicators, Pazin was protected so well that not even the mighty Venetians were able to conquer it in 1510. Several decades later the Castle was completely reconstructed and has basically preserved such a layout until today.
However, both the Castle and settlement beside it expanded over time. At first houses on the very ridge of Pazin Cave were built, right next to the fortress. Their location and form indicated that they were used not only for a residential purpose, but defensive one as well. South of the Castle another residential block, Buraj, was formed. Even today houses from the 15th and 16th cc. can be identified in this part of town. Farther from the Castle, towards the east, the Parish Church of St. Nicholas was erected, beside which the town cemetery stands today. This stretch is also the location of the third residential block, consisting mostly of houses of commoners and craftsmen. Although their construction began in the 15th c., mainly those built in the 17th - 19th cc. stand out.
The first written evidence of the Church of St. Nicholas dates from 1266. In the mid-15th c. a large Gothic polygonal presbytery with stellar vault was added onto the single-naved church. Around 1470 it was painted by an anonymous master from the circle of Jacob Sunter, also known as the Austrian master Leonardo from Brixen influenced by the patterns of Biblia pauperum from the 15th c. These frescoes are one of the finest examples of mural paintings in Istria.
Soon after the reconstruction of the parish church, the building of the Franciscan church began between 1463 and 1477. Nevertheless, the Franciscan Monastery was not completed until 1484. Its appearance, as well as its significance, changed over the centuries. Today, there are only two friars, whereas in the past there was a library, pharmacy, hospital and even surgeon within the monastery complex.
In the 17th c. the Habsburgs formally left Pazin and sold the Castle to the Montecuccoli family from Modena. They governed the County of Pazin until 1848, when it ceased to exist. The Castle remained their property until 1945.
After a short period of French rule at the beginning of the 19th c. Pazin came under Austrian rule and became the administrative center of Istria. The entire 19th c. was characterized by intensive construction of public buildings and railroad tracks. Many of these buildings were destroyed in the heavy bombing in 1943, which is today evidenced by numerous green areas visible in the urban tissue. The Castle survived such air raids so that today it houses the Ethnographic Museum, Pazin Town Museum and the National Archives in Pazin.
Ethnographic Museum of Istria, Pazin Town Museum and mural paintings in the Parish Church of St. Nicholas in Pazin.
Frescoes in the Church of St. Mary at Škrilinah in Beram near Pazin.
Gračišće in May, on the day of the traditional competition in harmonica playing Zasopimo na organić.
Pazin is mentioned in Jules Verne's novel Mathias Sandorf. The main character is imprisoned in the Castle of Pazin and manages to escape by descending into the Pazin Cave and is carried by an underground river to Lim Channel.