Castles of Northern Croatia
Over 100 castles in Northern Croatia will be a part of the exciting new project coordinated by the Ministry of Tourism, aiming to revitalise the area, renovate forgotten castles and curies and finally, bring to life this history-rich region.
The project is already underway with significant investments in some of the most important historical sites and newly refurbished castles.
We made a list of the most interesting and beautiful locations for you to note down and visit when the opportunity arises!
Originally built in the 13th century as an observation post for the road connecting Ptuj towards Bednjan Valley. Over time it was expanded and got its name after the original fortification Arcx Thacorum from the ancient period and after knights Drachenstein who ruled the area in medieval times.
Many owners had Trakošćan in their possession over the years until finally, the family Drašković took over in 1584. In the mid 19th century it was renovated to be a residential castle, while the outdoor area became a romantic garden with an enchanting lake.
Since 1954, Trakošćan has been a museum owned by the Republic of Croatia and protected as a historical site.
Find out more: https://trakoscan.hr/history-of-castle-trakoscan/ | Trakošćan Castle Photos by Domagoj Sever
In the vicinity of Zagreb, right at the medieval traders’ crossroad routes, you will find the beautiful Gjalski castle.
The residence of famous writer and politician Ksaver Šandor Gjalski, this castle got its new renovated look reflecting the familiar style of noble curies and castles of the medieval period.
Today it’s a popular hotel and a restaurant, offering a historical journey through cuisine and charming accommodation.
Find out more: https://dvoracgjalski.com/
Castle and garden Bežanec was built at the end of the 17th century on top of a hill, giving a breathtaking view of Kostel valley.
It is a four-wing castle with an inner yard, completely refurbished in the 19th century following the classicist style.
Family Ottenfels from Koruška, knights of the German Empire in the 17th century resided here the longest. Today it is owned by Siniša Križanec. The Castle operates as a hotel, restaurant, and venue for weddings and meetings.
Find out more: http://www.hotel-dvorac-bezanec.hr/home.html
Veliki Tabor Castle
Veliki Tabor is one of the best-preserved medieval fortified towns. It’s a noble town, famous for its monumental and authentic fortification architecture, sitting at 333 metres above sea level, dominating Hrvatsko Zagorje. Built in the mid-15th century, as a palace with fortified walls by Count Friedrich II of Celje.
Over time both protective towers were converted to residential. Slowly the castle was taken over by the Rattkay family, one of the most powerful noble families of the 18th century.
As their last heir passed away, Veliki Tabor fell under the command of the Hungarian Chamber, and today it is part of the Museum of Hrvatsko Zagorje.
Find out more: https://www.veliki-tabor.hr/en
Sveti Križ Začretje
With an unusual V shape, this 18th-century late-baroque castle belonged to the family Keglević who also owned a curie at the same location that later became the north wing of the castle.
As Marija Keglević got married to Peter Troyl Sermage, in 1775 the castle fell under the command of this family of French roots.
In the 19th century, it was purchased by Baron Janko Vranyczani Dobrinović who later sold the castle to the Mršić Flögel family.
This castle is also known for being where famous Croatian writer and first Croatian female journalist, Marija Jurić Zagorka spent her childhood, as her father was a foreman of the estate Šenjugovo that belongs to the castle.
Find out more: https://sveti-kriz-zacretje.hr/povijest/
Miljana Castle is considered the most beautiful and picturesque castle of the baroque period.
Construction began in the 16th century by a powerful family Rattkay. They opted for stone and brick following a four-wing layout with an inner yard. As the last Rattkay passed away the castle changed its owners and is currently owned by the family Kamenski.
It was refurbished in the late 70s when two salons were completely renovated, revealing interesting frescos showing the lavish life of noblemen of the 18th century.
More info: https://www.tz-kumrovec-desinic-zagorskasela.hr/home/
Old town Đurđevac
The town of Đurđevac is famous for its fortified old town, today the most important cultural heritage site. Originally surrounded by a swamp, the old town was built in the 14th century and later expanded.
Additional protection came from outer walls that created a small yard, visible today.
The legend says that in the 16th century the Ottoman empire attacked Đurđevac, trying to force citizens to surrender by hunger. Legend has it that the people of Đurđevac outwitted Ottomans, because of the advice of an old woman. They fired a cannon into the Turkish camp with the last remnant of food, a small rooster. They manage to convince the Ottomans that they have enough food to even throw away if needed.
It worked, the Ottomans left but threw a curse, calling the people of Đurđevac – Peacocks. The irony is that today the Old Town of Đurđevac is a restaurant and a pub.
Find out more: http://www.stari-grad-djurdjevac.hr/
After Trakošćan Castle and Veliki Tabor, Maruševec is considered to be another jewel in the crown of Hrvatsko Zagorje.
Construction started in the 14th century under the family Vragović and initially, it was a wooden construction.
200 years later the castle was upgraded to a stone building surrounded by water, which was important as Ottomans attacked the area often.
The style we see today is from the 19th century, when a new owner, Count Schlippenbach decided to refurbish the castle and build a new tower. The interior was decorated with expensive furniture, and the walls are covered in fancy carpets and paintings by famous 17th and 18th-century painters.
As the project was completed, the castle was sold to a nobleman Oskar Pongratz, whose family still owns the castle. The beautiful garden, a lake with a fountain, and lots of rare trees and plants became protected horticultural monuments.
Find out more: https://www.marusevec.hr/opcina-marusevec/marusevec-prije/dvorac-marusevec/
This baroque castle from 1756 was built by Count Krsto Oršić as a family residence, following an L-shaped layout.
After a big earthquake hit the area in the 19th-century, the castle was renovated when the family decided to add a familiar porch that is still standing today.
The most famous part of the castle is a chapel, showing 4 continents and an altar with scenes of the life of St. Francis Ksaver.
In 1924 castle was abandoned, converted to an elementary school and finally in the 1960s it was renovated and converted into the Peasants Revolt Museum, with a beautiful garden dedicated to 1573 Peasant Revolt’s leader Matija Gubec.
More info: http://www.gupcev-kraj.hr/hr/kultura/dvorac-orsi,170.html
Old Town Zrinski, Čakovec
The Old Town of Čakovec is the most valuable historic monument of Međimurje County.
Originally it was a 13th-century wooden fortification, used by Count Dimitri Csaky (Čaki) after whom Čakovec got its name.
Famous noble families until the mid 16th century constructed a spacious castle with strong fortifications.
Finally, Habsburg’s King Ferdinand I gave Međimurje County to family Zrinski, including Old Town Čakovec. Zrinski renovated the castle as a true renaissance fortress that had an inner yard and a luxurious palace inside.
A big earthquake in 1738 demolished most of the fortress. It was purchased by Count Althani who built the second floor and a new entrance tower.
The fortress was used as a school and dorm, but since 1954 it has belonged to the Museum of Međimurje.
Find out more: https://mmc.hr/starigrad_hr.html
Old Town Varaždin
Varaždin’s magnificent Old Town is the most important cultural and historical heritage of the city. It was the centre of feudal administration, separated from the free city of Varaždin. The castle was owned by many families, including Counts of Celje, Korvin, and Ungnada families.
In the 16th century, the castle changed ownership and was controlled by the Erdődy family, up until 1925.
What is visible today is a fortress constructed from the 14th to 19th century, with two gothic towers being the oldest. The fortress was built as Wasserburg, a moated castle, or a castle surrounded by water, to help with defence against the Ottomans.
As attacks ceased, the fortress was modernized with open yards and halls with arches and columns. It was fully refurbished in 1989 and today is home to a rich collection of the Museum of City Varaždin.
Find out more: https://varazdin.hr/varazdin-kroz-povijest/