The Ankaran settlement is located at the south end of the Milje peninsula (Miljski polotok) and stretches over the territory of former Ankaran and Valdoltra. Its location, cultural sights and natural beauties make it a unique natural pearl worth visiting – rich in Mediterranean vegetation, wine-growing regions and silver-green olive groves. The beneficent influence of the sea and the mild climate sparked the development of health resorts in the late 19th century and that of tourism after the First World War. These two economic branches are also central to the area today.
Ankaran is surrounded by several hamlets and the village of Hrvatini, stretched along the ridge of the Milje peninsula. The ridge offers a beautiful view over the entire Gulf of Trieste, reaching in nice weather as far as to the Julian Alps and the highest Slovenian mountain, Triglav.
The Ankaran area was already populated in Roman times, and bore the name of Ancaria. The name of Ankaran comes from St. Nicholas Ancarano, an abbot of the former Benedictine monastery. The name of Valdoltra comes from a term used for it by the inhabitants of the neighbouring parts, who saw it as ‘the valley over the sea’ (Val d’Oltra).
A cultural sight worth visiting is the Benedictine monastery of St. Nicholas from the beginning of the 12th century, which operated till 1614. In 1630, the devastating plague, which decimated the population, also forced the monks to leave the parts; the last ones left in 1641. In 1774, the monastery and its estate were bought by the noble family Madonizza from Koper, who changed it into a summer residence. During the Napoleonic wars, the monastery was used as a military hospital. After the First World War, it was changed into a hotel and became part of the tourist offer, together with sports facilities, a camp and the St. Nicolas seaside resort, open in 1925. Today, the estate with the monastery is part of a tourist complex. Its nice ambiance and surroundings offer wonderful possibilities for a relaxing or exciting holiday stay.
The health resorts began to develop with the appearance of mass treatments of bone and lung diseases with therapies connected with the beneficent influence of the sea and the sun. The Ankaran area saw the development of two medical institutions before the First World War – that of a tuberculosis sanatorium (which moved in 1985 into an internal ward of the Izola hospital) and a seaside convalescent hospital for children in 1909. Today, the latter is the headquarters of the world-famous Valdoltra Orthopaedic Hospital, which also has a Centre for Sports Rehabilitation.
Located in the immediate vicinity of Ankaran is the cape Debeli rtič, a popular holiday resort known for its Children’s Convalescent Centre and sandy beach. Also hikers have numerous possibilities to choose from – border guard paths, the quarries in the Milje hills and the grove Resslov gaj with its learning trail. Curiosity in this area (by sv. Katerina) is the only salty meadow in Mediterranean.