Vodnjan, as with other Istrian towns, shows evidence of prehistoric settlements and of cultures from the Illyrians through the Italians, who ruled there before the Croatians took over. Vodnjan eventually developed into the most important center of commerce in southern Istria and remained so until 1856, when Pula became Istria’s chief port. Today Vodnjan is a sleepy collection of villages known primarily for a large Italian-speaking population and the Vodnjan mummies, a collection of remarkably preserved bodies of holy people that lie in state at St. Blaise Church on the main square. Vodnjan is 11km (7 miles) north of Pula.