With a population variously quoted at 17, 18 and 23, the tiny medieval travel wonder of Hum on the Istrian peninsula in western Croatia is officially listed by the Guinness Book of Records as the smallest town in the world. Such a moniker swells this village of little more than a dozen grey stone houses with hundreds of visitors in the summer months. The overcast spring day that I visited, there seemed to be no more than twenty people in the town (and let’s face it, you could see both streets standing in one place in the mini main square).
The size of the town belies its rich history of around a thousand years. Its town walls and fortifications remind people of the regular battles fought over the centuries.
Hum’s main claim is as the final point on the Glagolitic Trail, a walking path through a number of small villages over seven kilometres with eleven significant points of interest which commemorates this ancient Croatian script. The Glagolitic alphabet was introduced in the ninth century by Saint Cyril to translate the bible into the local Slavic language. While this script has faded into obscurity, this same saint was associated with and has named after him the Cyrillic alphabet (used by a number of languages including Russian, Serbian and Bulgarian).
In Hum, a large copper door guards the entrance to the main stone passage into the town. The door includes words of welcome on the large door knockers and twelve shields symbolising the calendar months. Through the passageway are a number of stone tablets with ancient Glagolitic engravings.
The small village pub offers a homebrewed aromatic brandy called humska biska made from an ancient secret recipe which incorporates a cocktail of herbs including white mistletoe. The locals claim is has strong medicinal qualities with curative powers for a whole host of internal issues including high blood pressure. It certainly provides a relaxing afternoon tipple overlooking the olive fields and vineyards dreaming of what life must have been in this little Croatian hamlet, now a modern travel wonder with the impressive billing of smallest town in the world.