Posted by: viewfromtheriva | November 25, 2013

How Hum really got to be “the smallest city in the world”


Sometimes a legend passes into history as fact.  Having enjoyed our first real trip to Istria so much and learning about how Hum, just 15 minutes from Buzet, is the “smallest city in the world” according to the Guinness Book of World Records, Wikipedia and others, I decided to find out how it all started

Stone street in Hum

Stone street in Hum, with massive outside wall that encircles the town

According to locals, the origin of the legend began when ancient giants in this part of Istria decided to build themselves some nice hilltop towns  (like Motovun,  Buzet, Roc).  But when they ran out of huge  stones and only had small ones left, they decided to build the smallest town in the world, which became Hum.  Hmmm, well, this tale only made me want to learn more.

another view of Hum

another view of Hum

So digging a bit deeper, I asked about and found out that the truth was a lot less romantic and colorful.  In 1976/77,  the local county decided to declare Hum as the smallest town in the world in order to revitalize the village and make it more appealing for tourists!  They surely succeeded because no trip to this gorgeous part of Istria is complete without the pilgrimage to Hum to enjoy a tiny town, almost completely surrounded by stone walls with wonderful stone alleys, squares and churches.
And there’s more than just a charming stone village here….the highlight is a literal “Glagolitic Alley”, a 3-kilometer-long path between Hum and Roč, lined with massive stone monuments etched with ancient Croatian Glagolithic script.
The 13thC "Survey about Istrian Land Boundaries" (Istarski razvod), the most important Glagolitic medieval legal document in Istria, was found here in the mid of the 19thC.

The 13thC  “Survey about Istrian Land Boundaries” (Istarski razvod), the most important Glagolitic medieval legal document in Istria, was found here in the mid of the 19thC.

After finding out all this fascinating information, I decided to go to the Guinness Book of World Records and in fact, there is no such listing of Hum or any other city being the “smallest”.   Although it surely would be cool for the city fathers to apply!  Last but not least, having been a Wikipedia editor for several years (don’t be impressed, anyone can register and edit, which is why it is called the people’s encyclopedia!), I went to the Hum page and took out the reference to Guinness.

The Glagolitic alphabet with Croatian language equivalent letters under

The Glagolitic alphabet with Croatian language equivalent letters under

 

 

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