Gajana and victims memorial
The small settlement of Gajana with around twenty houses is located in the Vodnjan area. Gajana was burned down by the Germans towards the end of the Second World War when 15 of its inhabitants were killed.
A prehistoric settlement was built on the site. Much like the entire Vodnjan area, densely populated in antiquity, it is believed that this was a large ancient estate of Caius, which explains the name Gajana. A tombstone and a sarcophagus dating back to antiquity have been found in this area.
Today's settlement is situated approximately one kilometre south of the old settlement of Gajana. The twelfth-century bell tower of the Romanesque church of St. John the Evangelist still stands on the site of the former settlement. The church that used to stand near the bell tower was torn down in 1926 and the construction debris was used to build a house.
It is worth mentioning that Gajana was swept by medieval epidemics leaving the settlement desolate. Much like a large number of Istrian villages, Gajana was subsequently populated mainly by people from Dalmatia fleeing before the advancing Turks.
Ever year, on the 27th of January in Gajana, the locals organize Memorial Day to remember the 27th of January 1944, the day that marked the local history and destiny of every family in the town. The town was attacked by the enemy army, the houses were burned and the people were lined up for the firing squad. For many, the nightmare of the concentration camp in Auschwitz became reality. The memory on the horrible tragedy can be read on the monument at the entrance to the town of Gajana, along with the carved names of 15 victims and around 20 of those deported.