Zavrsje is nested on a 240-metre high hill, amid marl and sandstone mountainous area where, between Groznjan and Oprtalj, is the south end of Karst. It has always been a town of farmers who worked the fields and grew olives and fruits; there were also leather tanners. The town was surrounded by double walls, partly still visible, which had two gates; the remains of one can still be seen. Above this gate there are ancient bas-reliefs and a coat of arms of the Contarini family, who owned the town for three centuries. A cobblestone road leads to an elevation with an ancient church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Holy Rosary with a church tower. The church has a round apse and a portal with pointed arch with inscribed year 1879, when it was last renovated. It was built in the 16th century and renovated in 1634, when of the four original altars only two remained.
Stone relief from the Roman times built in the city gates
There used to be silver candelabras and candle holders dating from the 18th century, and a magnificent goblet decorated with glazed medallions from 1476. The church sold it in the late 18th century and it ended up in the Rothschild's' collection. Today it can be seen at the Louvre. A gothic monstrance from 1849 shows Virgin Mary, St. John the Evangelist and Christ rising from the grave. Next to the church is a magnificent Zavrsje castle, built in the 11th century, once a residence of the Contarini aristocracy. Inside the walls there is a little house, built in 1579, with inscription Hosteria di Valentino Valle. In front of the northern gate a new, large parish church of Sts. John and Paul was built, renovated in 1792. It has a round apse, five altars and is richly decorated. The altar of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Holy Rosary was donated by a nobleman Besenghi in 1792.
On a roof side there is a small sandstone distaff. Coming from the valley, before you reach the still existing city gates, there is a small church of St. Rocco built in 1556, and about a kilometer north of the parish church there is a cemetery with St. Andrew's church. Zavrsje was inhabited in ancient times; artifacts from the pre-Roman era as well as Roman tombs and inscriptions have been discovered. Traces of the alleged first consul's road, which passed through the Istria's interior, have also been found. In 1885 a tombstone with names of various historic persons was discovered by the road. This medieval town was in ancient times known by the Italian name Piemonte.
This name was mentioned in 1102, when Istrian marquis Ulrich II donated the town to the Patriarchy of Aquileia. In documents dating from 1341 and 1508 it was called Pyamont or Poymont. In 1427 the Germans named it Pemund. In 1300 Zavrsje belonged to Istrian counts. Later Venice took it over, and it had to fight the army of the Count of Krk. In 1360 a Trieste army of patriarch Lodovico de' Della Torrea and bishop Negri, at the time at war with the counts of Pazin, launched an unsuccessful attack on Zavrsje.
In 1374 it came under the Austrian rule and was elevated to a fiefdom status. It had its own feudal law and administration, a captain and a prefect. At that time - late 14th century - Croatian population started to settle in the area. Austrian authorities began to lease the Zavrsje estate so it changed many owners in the years to come.
After 1412 Venice, fighting the Hungarians, Turks and Austrians, attacked Zavrsje several times. The attacks lasted until 1511, when it finally took it over, although its rule was not acknowledged until the Worms Treaty. In 1530 Venice auctioned Zavrsje and Giustignano Contarini became the new owner. His descendants kept it until the 19th century, when it was conquered by Napoleon, and shortly thereafter taken over by the Austrian Empire. The area prospered under the well-organized Austrian rule. A narrow-gauge Parenzana railroad was built. Trading contributed to intensive development of agriculture, especially fruit and vegetable growing. Various trades also blossomed. During the Austrian and later Italian rule Zavrsje had a post office, school, two stores, oil-processing plant and various trade shops.
In 1943 the anti-fascist movement spread to Zavrsje, and Croatian and Italian anti-fascists fought together against the Germans. Under the terms of the Paris Peace Treaty Zavrsje became a part of the People's Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
Economic and political reasons contributed to a mass exodus, and of the 90 families who lived in Zavrsje at the time only about 40 inhabitants have remained. This fortressed little town boasts magnificent architecture. It is a mandatory destination for every traveller interested in Istrian history and culture.