Hum - a town in the central part of Istria, northwest Croatia has a
population of only 17 people. It also holds the Guinness world record for being
the smallest town in the world.
On its western side, the town is enclosed by walls and on the remaining
sides, houses are built into the defensive walls. Hum was first mentioned in
documents dating from 1102, when it was originally called Cholm - derived from
the Italian name Colmo.
Older structures have been renovated, but with the exception of an Italian
school built in the 19th century, no new complete structure has been built since
the 11th century.
Hum is one of the rare preserved and untouched examples of Croatian urban
development inside medieval walls.
In 1552, the bell tower (left) was added to the southern defence
Hum has only two streets, but it still has elected officials and a town
government. Each year on the “Day of Hum,” all men from the parish elect their
prefect in the municipal loggia according to tradition, where they engrave votes
on wooden sticks known as raboš. The town prefect is responsible for settling
disputes among residents and imposing penalties for disorderly conduct in Hum
and the surrounding villages.
In addition to being the smallest city in the world, Hum is known as the
birthplace of the Glagolitic alphabet. As a tribute, Glagolitic Avenue connects
Hum to the next city of Roč. The 7km avenue was constructed in 1977, and
dedicated to Glagolitic scholars, the Holy Brothers - Constantine Cyril and
Method, and the Slav apostles. It consists of eleven monuments which show the
development and historical roots of Glagolitic in Istria.
Glagolitic was the first Slavic alphabet and was devised by Constantine
Cyril. The first Slavic books - selections from the Old and New Testaments and
later the basic liturgical repertoire of the Slavic Church - were written in
this alphabet. It originally consisted of 38 letters based on the Slavic
phonetic system. It was also a numerical system, with each symbol representing a
number. It does not correspond to any European or Asian script.
Glagolitic Avenue ends at the base of the foothills of Roč, another small
Istria town renowned for its early Croatian and Slavic culture and for being the
location of the first Croatian printed book in 1483 - “Missale Romanum
While the Glagolitic script might have faded into obscurity in the late
15th century, the small town of Hum is both a place of tribute to the original
Slavic language and a land of mystical legend. One such legend says that giants
once populated Istria before people. After building a series of towns in Istria,
the giants used the remaining rocks to create Hum – the smallest town in the