Trg Marafor and Trg Slobode from Poreč, Croatia

Trg Marafor, the largest square in the town of Poreč (or Parenzo in Italian), lies at the sea-end of a peninsula, with its name stemming from the words Mars and forum. Poreč was the site of an important Roman castrum. The forum held a temple to the god Mars, the greatest Roman temple on the eastern Adriatic. Several of its columns have survived to this day. The square has also preserved parts of its original 1st century pavement. The busiest street in the town is called Decumanus. In the Roman city-building system, decumanus was the name for arteries oriented on an east-west axis, with the decumanus maximus signifying the main artery of this type. The forum was built close to where it intersected with the main north-south artery, called cardo maximus. Between the cardomaximus and decumanus maximus, the cardo usually held the primary role. But sometimes, for geographical reasons, this hierarchy was reversed. This is precisely what happened in Poreč. The walled medieval town built its streets over those of the Roman castrum, copying their regular structure. On the other end of the peninsula one finds Trg Slobode, or Liberty Square, which is smaller and newer, but now serves as Poreč’s main square, as well as a meeting place for the Italian community, which maintains a strong presence in the town.