The ancient residence of the Poreč bishops lies on the western coast of Istria, north of the entrance to Lim Channel.
The favorable location of the bay facilitated the development of the ancient port. The remains of its breakwater, together with economic villas along the coast and on Sv. Juraj Island were discovered. Its name castrum Ursariae originates in the Late Antiquity, when the settlement was situated at the foot of the hill by the sea.

In perilous medieval times the settlement was once again established on the hill top. In the deed of gift executed by German Emperor Otto II in 983, ownership of possessions in Istria was granted to the Poreč bishops, among which the castle of Vrsar.
The fief of Vrsar earned great profit to the bishops, the sale of salt and rock constituted a considerable share. High quality limestone from the nearby Montraker quarry was exported to Venice, Koper and Piran from the 14th to 18th cc.
On behalf of the bishops the castle was managed by their advocates, local feudal lords, who often took possession of the property. In the 13th c. the inhabitants of Poreč, dissatisfied with the imposed feudal jurisdiction of the bishop over Poreč, on several occasions engaged in violent disputes with the Bishop who found shelter in the castle of Vrsar. During the attack in 1258 the castle was conquered and destroyed.

In the 13th c. it was reconstructed by Bishop Oton. Having a rectangular ground plan with square corner towers and inner courtyard with cistern, the crenellated defensive walls provided additional protection. On the eastern slope outside the castle walls stood a Romanesque parish church from the 11th c., whereas St. George's Church on Sv. Juraj Island with its characteristic ground plan with two apses dates from the pre-Romanesque period. The three-aisled basilica of St. Mary of the Sea was built in the Romanesque, on the coast next to the Benedictine monastery.

It is likely that as early as the 11th c. a settlement began to form by the castle. The town gradually developed below the walls where mostly the houses of poor families were built. According to travel writer Prospero Petronio, the modest settlement was not encompassed by town walls until the beginning of the 16th c. The stretch of walls with partly preserved round towers and houses of Renaissance features probably date from that time. Petronio's account illustrates the appearance of the Bishop's Palace following its Baroque reconstruction at the beginning of the 17th c., as well as St. Martin's Church from the 16th c.

In the 17th c. the main town entrance was on the eastern side, by the renovated St. Foška's Church. From the pedestrian gate with sentry box on the southern side, the street leads to the lower square which is surrounded by noble palaces. Outside the gate, at the site of the Romanesque parish church the votive chapel of St. Anthony was erected in the 17th c. The Venetian Senate decided to take control of the castle, which at the end of the 18th c. became a nest of bandits, so in 1778 it abolished the centuries-old church county. Possessions were taken over by noble families from Poreč, whereas the castle became the property of the Vergotini family. During the 19th c. the town spread downhill, reaching the very coast and new pier. The Parish Church of St. Martin was renovated in the mid-19th c., but in 1935 it was pulled down, making way for a new church at the site. The youngest structure in the castle is a 40-meter belfry built in 1991. At the beginning of the 21st c., an additional level was added to the three-storey Baroque castle, retaining its age-long residential function.


Sacral collection in St. Foška's Church.
Lim Channel and the cave of St. Romuald, reformer of the Benedictine order.
Dušan Džamonja's Sculpture Park at Valkanela, north of the town. Surrounding the artist's house with atelier, incorporated into the setting, is a landscaped garden with his sculptures.
Casanovafest, the love and erotic festival, celebrates the historical connections between the famous Venetian adventurer and Vrsar, which he visited in 1743 and 1744.

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