Suppose you are looking for a place that is human-friendly, away from industrial and urban bustle we live in. In that case, Zagorje would surely be your choice. It is an oasis of preserved nature, green countryside and water, with clean air and mild and healthy thermal springs.
Cultural heritage of feudalism in the area is manifest in numerous burgs and castles, whose architecture blends with the idyllic countryside. Stories and legends further enrich the spiritual aura of Zagorje radiating the mysticism of the past into the present
Krapina-Zagorje County is famous for mineral thermal water springs. Krapinske, Stubičke and Tuheljske Toplice (or Spas) are known worldwide.
The Museum of the Peasant Uprisings with its new permanent exhibition that particularly emphasizes the Peasant Revolt of 1573 takes us to the feudal past of the Hrvatsko Zagorje region. Each year by the end of January the Museum denotes the anniversary of this significant event with interesting happenings. The impressive Monument of the Peasant Revolt and its leader, Matija Gubec, is the work of sculptor Antun Augustinčić and tells us the bloody ballad of Stubica's 16th century life on a bronze relief. In June the area in front of the monument comes alive during the Knight’s Tournament entertaining historical fans with diversified medieval pageants. The Baroque Oršić manor, which houses the Museum, is built on the site of a medieval castle. Today it is surrounded by beautifully arranged gardens. By the parish church of St. George stands the Linden tree of Gubec (Gupčeva lipa), which is over 400 years old and has been protected as natural heritage. The space around the tree comes alive on Jurjevo (the festival devoted to St. George) with folklore music. Near by is the Rudolf Perešin's memorial park, and every year in May Meetings for Rudi (Susreti za Rudija) remind numerous participants of this hero of the Croatian War of Independence.
One of the oldest settlements in Hrvatsko Zagorje was once the market of a large feudal estate of Susedgrad-Stubica, but now only traces of former feudal fortress are left. The parish church, where the noblemen were buried long ago, is devoted to the Holy Trinity. It has kept features of Gothic architecture in the shrine, but later periods changed her appearance a lot. Newly arranged attractions of Donja Stubica are the excursion site of Majsec’s Mill (Majsecov mlin) and the specially arranged Croatian Iris Garden (Hrvatski vrt perunika) beside it. Hižakovec is the nearby village known as the birth place of Matija Gubec. The manor house Stubički Golubovec was built in the late Baroque style. The Kajkavian Society, which promotes the regional Kajkavijan culture, exhibits the collection and the works in the manor.
The mountain of Kuna gora rises above the picturesque small town and in its immediate proximity a few manors reside; Dubrava and Gorica on the town’s entrance and the ruins of an ancient Kostel castle, nearby. The new Town Museum, which bares the name of its donator – Dr. Zlatko Tuđina, exhibits a wealthy numismatic collection to visitors as well as the town history of mining and pharmacy. The spacious parish church is devoted to the Assumption of Mary; due to its proportions it was also named the Cathedral of Hrvatsko Zagorje region. The most well known tourist manifestation here is the traditional Vintage and besides the Guard of Keglević we can also find traditional group of men from Kostel, armed with old fashioned pistols. The Bežanec manor is in a village nearby called Valentinovo, a favorite tourist destination. Besides the restaurant and hotel you can see various exhibitions and other events there.
In the Krapina-Zagorje County center lays a picturesque little town of a turbulent past. It has been registered on the world cultural heritage map as a locality where the largest collection of Neanderthals was found in one place. The Museum of Evolution and the prehistoric site of Hušnjakovo is one of the most frequently visited destinations in region. The new Museum of Krapina Neanderthals is still under construction. The Medieval burg rises above the town of Krapina. The town is also known as the birth place of Ljudevit Gaj whose museum is situated in the town center. Reminiscence on the Croatia National Revival activities awakes the Illyrian ball (Ilirski bal) as one of the latest attractions. The Town Gallery with its numerous exhibitions gives an insight to the modern artistic movements. The church monuments are important as well, for example the Franciscan Monastery from the 17th century and the Baroque pilgrim’s complex of Madonna from Jerusalem at Trški Vrh. In September the town comes to life during the Ceremony of Kajkavian Poems (Svečanosti kajkavskih popevki), and the central event is the Festival of Kajkavian Poems which has been attracting music fans for almost half a century.
Sv. Križ Začretje
An interesting urbanite solution of the town center shows visitors that they can see and explore something here. The manor house with its unusual ground plan, built in the time of late Baroque Classicism, was furnished by the new owners – the Mršić family – who introduced many new contents that the town has to offer. There is the Art Gallery of Ivan Lovrenčić in Žitnica house where we can find this great Croatian painter and graphic artist’s donation, which is an attraction for art lovers. Sv. Križ Začretje possesses one of the finest ethnographic collections in Hrvatsko Zagorje region that was collected by Nada Ječmenica, head of the Zvirek ethno group for many years.
A small town in the Eastern part of Hrvatsko Zagorje region distinguishes itself with the beautiful Baroque church abundant with the carving inventory that originates from the artistic workshops of Graz. The Gallery of Zlatar's native art has notable works of native art masters in its collection, and the founding of the museum is in progress. The Varga Gallery, which has become a kind of brand in souvenir shaping, is active in town and it has woven the net of its products throughout Croatia. In the nearer surroundings of the town we have the biggest number of small noble manors, called curia, real pearls of profane architecture. The one in Šaulovac is particularly notable, being in possession of the noble Kiš family, together with the manor of the Jelačić family in Donja Batina. The Gothic chapel of St. Martin in Martinšćina holds the unique wall paintings of the period and represents a unique monument of culture in the Croatian Zagorje region.
After extraordinary findings during the excavations around Marija Gorska site, Lobor became one of the rare places that can boast about its unique findings from the early Middle Ages. A great number of churches and chapels that are in the same area around Lobor emphasize the importance of the town. The most interesting is one of the oldest pilgrim churches in Hrvatsko Zagorje region, Majka Božja Gorska, where you can see impressive artistic memorials from numerous stylistic periods that make it a unique cultural attraction of the region and of Croatia, too. The chapel surrounding is an archeological finding site with intersections of findings from the antique period until the late Middle Ages. Preparations are underway for establishing a museum in situ there, which will be presented to visitors at this nationally important locality.
The picturesque town of Belec has been listed on the map of sacral heritage with two objects of great importance. The Gothic church of St. George (Sv. Juraj) that has preserved in its architecture traces of the Romanesque period, while the Parish Church of St. Mary of Snow (Crkva Marije Snježne) is a unique Baroque assembly - Gesamtkunstwerk. The church architecture is decorated with a wealthy wall paintings oeuvre from the most well known North-western Croatian Baroque master, Ivan Krstitelj Ranger and it possesses the magnificent carving inventory which has been renewed and shines in full radiance. Also nearby we have the ruins of the medieval town of Belec which was one of the most important fortresses on the slopes of the Ivanšćica Mountain like Oštrc, Gotalovac or Milengrad not far away.
The Konjšćina fortress from the late Middle Ages is the only remaining example of Wasserburg in the Hrvatsko Zagorje region. Today’s remains of the castle that once belonged to the Konjski family are in the process of restoration and are sure to become a new attraction site for tourists, by organizing events such as the celebration of the legendary battle with the Turks back in <st1:metricconverter productid="1545 in" w:st="on">1545 in</st1:metricconverter> which almost all of the members of prominent families with estates in Zagorje region took part. The Baroque church of St. Dominic in Konjšćina is a valuable monument of sacral architecture, and in the vicinity there is a manor of Peščeno, too.
One of the pearls of Hrvatsko Zagorje is the national shrine of the Mother of God of Bistrica where numerous pilgrims come annually and devote their prayers to the miraculous statue of the Black Madonna. The religious pictures in the complex wall (cinktor) testify of the countless prayers that have been answered. The harmonious historicist complex of the shrine is the work of the prominent architect Herman Bolle which dates back to 1882. Above the church there is an impressive Calvary that rises up and the stations of the Way of the Cross are the works of prominent Croatian sculptors. The main square of Marija Bistrica is a vivid center of traditional crafts, too. Numerous gingerbread shops have a long and rich tradition, preserving the heritage by selling gingerbread hearts, gingerbread cookies, candles and gvirc. Also, here you can find traditional children’s toys from Laz and pottery from the nearby village of Globočec where very skilled master potters come from.
The medieval center of the Zaboky family –Zabok, has preserved little of its old appeal. Today it is a town of new initiatives with a more and more prominent culture of young people thanks to the work of many non-governmental organizations and associations. The artistic notable classicist architecture of the parish church of St. Helen adorns the center of the town. The Gredice manor house, which once belonged to the Babić family, is a hotel-restaurant today. But it brings back the memory of a great writer Ksaver Šandor Gjalski who described with nostalgia the Hrvatsko Zagorje region in a collision of old and new. Every year, Zabok is the center of one of the most prominent national literary manifestations – Days of Ksaver Šandor Gjalski.
A small town whose beauty was celebrated in the paintings of Edo Kovačević is the birth place of many prominent Croats. The bust of Mihanović on the town square and the Monument to the National Anthem in the nearby town of Zelenjak preserves the memory of the prominent poet who wrote the Croatian hymn. The Franciscan Monastery and the church were built in the 17th century, and their regional collection guards some very valuable works of ecclesiastical art, especially from the Baroque period. The restored sarcophaguses of the Erdödy family protrude with their unique beauty, as they were carved in silver the masterpieces represent the peak of Croatian applied arts. The Gallery of Antun Augustinčić is a museum of sculpture exhibiting the most valuable works of the sculptor Augustinčić that the world famous master donated to his town of birth. Many exhibitions take place in the Gallery showroom.
The idyllic village preserved its look typical of this region at the turn of the 19th to 20th century. Kumrovec is the largest open-air museum in situ in Croatia, and it truly guards the traditional heritage of Hrvatsko Zagorje region. Archaic houses (hiže) conceal some very interesting scenes of the country style and culture of living, as well as the presentation of the traditional crafts. The center of traditional crafts was recently opened in the village, as well, and many museum workshops, presentations of the old crafts and miscellaneous events are the reason for the increasing interest of visitors for visit the village. Also, Kumrovec is the birth place of the former Yugoslavian President Josip Broz Tito, and his house of birth is in the center of the village and has been arranged as it was in the time of Tito's childhood, together with the interior of the Old school (Stara škola) that Tito once attended.
Veliki Tabor – Desinić
Veliki Tabor Castle is the only well preserved castle of the late Gothic and Renaissance period in Hrvatsko Zagorje region. We can find traces of later periods, but the compact Renaissance ring of the defensive towers make this architecture distinguishing and unique. For centuries, the castle was in possession of the Counts Rattkay whose many distinguished members left their mark in history. The castle is scenically incorporated into the surrounding landscape, and its central tower “palas” has been renovated and arranged. Exhibits, performances and events take place in the Veliki Tabor Castle; here history mixes with legends – a perfect impulse to create a new project Legends and stories from Zagorje castles, which has just been launched. We are reminded of Veronika from Desinić’s sad fate or of love affairs of the Rattkay family, dowry battles, intrigues or courageous campaigns. Performances, workshops and living history programme help us to learn something new and interesting.
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