Piran (Italian: Pirano) is a town in the Municipality of Piran in southwestern Slovenia on the Gulf of Piran on the Adriatic Sea. It is one of the three major towns ofSlovenian Istria. The town has much medieval architecture, with narrow streets and compact houses. Piran is the administrative centre of the local area and one of Slovenia's major tourist attractions. Until the mid-20th century, Italian was the dominant language, but was replaced by Slovene as populations moved.
Piran before the end of the 19th century
In the pre-Roman era, the hills in the Piran area were inhabited by Illyrian Histri tribes who were farmers, hunters and fishermen. They were also pirates who disrupted Roman trade in the north Adriatic Sea. The Piran peninsula was incorporated into the Roman Empire in 178 and 177 BC and settled in the following years with rural homes (villae rusticae)
The decline of the Empire, from the 5th century AD onwards, and incursions by the Avars and Slavs at the end of the 6th century, prompted the Roman population to withdraw into easily defensible locations such as islands or peninsulas. This started local urbanisation and by the 7th century, under Byzantine rule, Piran had become heavily fortified. Despite the defences, the Franks conquered Istria in 788 and Slavs settled in the region. By 952, Piran had become a part of the Holy Roman Empire. The earliest reliable records of the area are in the 7th century work Cosmographia by an anonymous cleric of Ravenna. The name of the town most probably originates from the Greek "pyrranos", which means "red", because of the reddish flysch stones commonly found in the town's area.
On 22 February 1812, the Battle of Pirano was fought between a British and a French ship of the line in the vicinity of Piran. This was a minor battle of the Adriatic campaign of the Napoleonic Wars. The French Rivoli had been recently completed at Venice. The French naval authorities intended her to bolster French forces in the Adriatic, following a succession of defeats in the preceding year. Captain John Talbot of HMS Victorious arrived off Venice in mid-February and blockaded the port. When Rivoli attempted to escape under the cover of fog, Talbot chased her and forced her to surrender in a five-hour battle, Rivoli lost over half her crew as either wounded or dead. This was the only battle ever fought in the sea nowadays belonging to Slovenia.
At the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, Piran was an Austro-Hungarian city with over 12,000 inhabitants, larger than the nearby Koper. It was a flourishing market and spa town with good transport connections. The first trolleybus line in the Balkans was introduced to public service on 24 October 1909 in Piran. In 1912, it was replaced by a tram that operated on the same route till 1953.
On 24 October 2010, Slovenia became the first country of former communist Europe to elect a black mayor. The physician Peter Bossman, who came from Ghana in the late 1970s, was elected mayor of Piran. He officially took office at the first constitutional meeting of the municipal council on 12 November 2010, succeeding Tomaž Gantar. He represents the Social Democrats.