Lifestyle / heritage
The capital of custard cake & craftsmanship
Samobor is a charming medieval town, home to 19,000 people, located 20 km from the capital city of Zagreb, and attracting more visitors each year.
Famous for its rich baroque architecture and custard tarts (Croatian: kremšnita), Samobor is also a popular destination for hikers as it is surrounded by the romantic hills of Samobor Mountains with over 300 km of hiking trails.
Samobor is known as the town of craftsmen and was famous for copper and iron mines and glass manufacturing, which are still active in production today.
History of Samobor
Samobor is located on the eastern slopes of the Samobor Mountains, a hill range in the vicinity of Zagreb, nestled close to the border of Slovenia and surrounded by the Sava river from the east.
Its geographical position in the valley between the hills and river made Samobor an attractive stop for trading routes that travelled through this area in medieval times.
In 1242, Croatian-Hungarian King Bela IV gave Samobor a grant to be a free king’s trading post, which started the town’s fast economic and demographic growth. It was independent of the feudal system and had its own administration.
In the same period, a castle above the free trading town of Samobor was constructed by the Czech King Otokar in 1268, today it is known as the Old Town of Samobor.
It was under the control of various noble families for many centuries like Arpadović, Frankopan, Erdody, Counts of Celje, and many others. Each family, through centuries, expanded the old town that ultimately became a baroque castle.
Noble families were often in conflict with people of the free trading town of Samobor as the town fell outside of noble rule. This was until a court process that started in the 15th century and lasted for 300 years accidentally deemed the owners of the Old Town the owners of the free trading town of Samobor.
The town is famous for its promenades, out of which the most popular is Anindol. It is located at the Tepec hill where the famous chapel of St. Anna is located, the subject of some of the most popular poems of Samobor.
Samobor is famous for poems made by Stanko Vraz, a Croatian and Slovenian poet from the 19th century. His renowned verse tells a tragic love story with Julijana, who later inspired his collection of poems knowns as Đulabije.
Julijana Cantilly, known as Ljubica in Stanko’s poems, is buried at the cemetery in Samobor, and her grave has become a popular tourist spot.
Town of custard cakes
Since the 19th century, Samobor is considered to be the oldest and the most popular excursion destination for visitors from Zagreb and the surrounding area.
The main highlight of Samobor is the historic core of the town, with King Tomislav Square. It’s the administrative centre of Samobor and a favourite location to eat famous custard pies (Croatian: kremšnita).
It is the most famous dish that comes from Samobor, popularly called the queen of all pies.
Right at the main square, the famous kremšnita was made for the first time, invented by a local pastry chef Đuro Lukačić in the 1920s. Since January 2021, it has been protected as non-material heritage and listed in the Registry of Cultural Property.
The charming streets of Samobor are rich with handicraft shops. It has a long crafts tradition that locals have cherished for generations and where visitors can purchase locally made products.
The most popular are glass items, manually cut crystal, popular Licitar heart-shaped biscuits, sweet honey potions known as ‘gvirc’, recognisable bermet and spicy mustard (Croatian: muštarda).
Alluring hills of Samobor
Samobor is surrounded by the Park Žumberak – Samoborsko Gorje Nature Park, making it a popular destination for nature lovers, hikers, and cyclists.
Since 1999 this has been a protected natural area, as it offers intact nature, forests, water springs, caves and many archaeological sites that are waiting to be explored. With over 300 km of hiking and cycling trails, it is ideal for anyone seeking an active kind of holiday.
Additionally, the tourist board of Samobor in 2021 reopened the first educational path Oruševec, the first of its kind in Croatia. The track was designed by members of the Ecological Association in Samobor in 1990.
Since then, its nine educational stops have become famous for those wanting to learn more about nature and the rural lifestyle. A top-rated stop on the path is Grgos cave. With its length of 1.5 km, it is ideal for people of all ages.
Another famous landmark is St. Barbara Mine, located in the nearby town of Rude. Visitors can visit the pit of the Holy Trinity and its open parts.
Climbing the steps through the old iron ore, it is possible to visit the Kokel pit, used over 300 hundred years ago. A tour of the mine offers an insight into the daily life of locals, and a must-try is a local dish that was served to exhausted miners known as ‘rudarska greblica’.
Find out more: Interactive map of Samobor