Koper is a small town on the Adriatic Coast of Europe, and it was the first port of call on my Royal Caribbean cruise. Before booking the cruise, I've never heard of this destination before, seeing that it was a very new port for the cruise line. Due to lack of reviews online and, I looked forward to exploring a relatively uncommon part of Eastern Europe.
During my visit, I discovered that Koper is actually a truly picturesque town and this was mainly due to the many town squares which are scattered about a very small area. Many Western European town squares are crowded and extremely commericalized, so it was a breath of fresh air to stumble upon these spaces within a city, which were either bustling with locals or totally deserted.
The first town square in Koper which I saw was small but absolutely packed. Both cruise ship tourists and locals milled about, flitted from shop to shop and flocked to the many bars and cafes which surrounded the square. There was a lively atmosphere, but it was a far cry from being noisy and claustrophobic. The bars were receiving lots of business, as every seating space appeared to be taken, and everyone sipped from oversized mugs of beer.
The architecture in the square was also distinctly Venetian. This didn't come as a big surprise, seeing that Venice is located 'just around the corner'. There was a huge stone fountain in the center which was brilliantly detailed, giving a very medieval look to the area. I could easily picture townsfolk, drawing their water and socializing on a daily basis.
The second square was called Tito Square, home to the Praetorian Palace. This square was much larger than the first, and people seemed to pour in from various alleys. The main feature of this square was the large bell tower which dominated the skyline even from a distance, and willing visitors could climb to the top for what promised to be a stunning view. While in the square, I heard a sound and out of nowhere, a horse and carriage passed by! I was quite stunned, but quickly recovered to snap a photo.
The final square which I came across was found quite by accident. I was simply taking a stroll through the many winding streets when I simply popped into a colourful square. This was obviously a small community square, since the surrounding buildings were all residential homes and it was totally deserted.
All the houses were painted in yellow, pink and other bright colours, providing a stark contrast to the rather monochromatic colour scheme which monopolized the rest of the town. There was even a small water fountain in the middle of the square, of which I snapped several photos.
Koper may not glaringly obvious on the European tourist map, and maybe it's for the best. Most of the charm which this town had, came from the unpretentious atmosphere. I may not have known what to expect when I arrived, but I left feeling more than satisfied.