© xbrchx

Ten amazing castles in Croatia

Some of the most beautiful and well-preserved castles from across Croatia

By Marc Rowlands
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Throughout its history, Croatia has existed under the influence of many different empires. The Greeks and the Romans once ruled here, the independent state of Venice was once in charge, then the Austro-Hungarian empire. Old family names such as Frankopan, Zrinski and Habsburg have ruled the country's regions or entirety. Croatia has fended off attempted invasions by Bulgaria and Hungary, and put up a good fight against the Italians and the Ottomans. All of these instances required the defence of fortifications and Croatia is littered with old city walls, ruined castles and evidence of lifetimes and lives spent to secure the country. Some of the castles are still in incredibly well-preserved condition and here we pick ten of the very best that you can still visit and marvel at today.

Ten amazing castles in Croatia

Trakošćan castle
Trakošćan castle
© Petra-81

Trakošćan Castle

Grandly positioned atop a hill near Krapina, Varaždin County, in northern Croatia, Trakošćan castle dates back to the 13th century, although local legend says that it stands on the site of an even earlier fortress. Further mystery comes from the fact that nobody really knows who commissioned its construction nor who its original dwellers were. In 1556 the castle came under state control, but just 18 years later it was gifted to the Drašković family. In the second half of the 18th century the castle was abandoned, with the family only resuming interest in the building in the middle of the 19th century. Deputy marshal Juraj V. Drašković rtenovated the house and grounds and it became a family dwelling until 1944 when the Drašković's were forced to emigrate to Austria and the building became nationalized. The castle is one of the country's grandest, impressive all year round in whichever weather conditions and is today owned by the Republic of Croatia.

Trsat Castle
Trsat Castle
© Domagoj Blažević

Trsat Castle

The Trsat Fortress dominates Rijeka bay and is one of the most prominent points in the city of Rijeka. The city itself is strategically placed, by a major river, just at the start of the Istrian peninsula and Trsat similarly is strategically placed, located on a hill just short of 150 metres tall. It is thought that the castle lies atop an ancient Illyrian and Roman fortress. One of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, the grounds now contain a restaurant and its courtyard is used for cultural events such as theatre and music concerts.

 

 

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Stara Sušica
Stara Sušica
©Branko Ostojić

Stara Sušica Castle

Stara Sušica Castle, located some 60 kilometres to the east of the city of Rijeka, is not one of the largest castles you will ever see in your life. But it is certainly one of the prettiest. It is a stunning architectural gem, which has been lovingly restored many times, with different generations adding to its make up to produce what is now a sometimes bewildering blend of styles. The castle nestles in the shadows of tall coniferous trees, just outside of the town of Stara Sušica.

© Miroslav Vajdić

Veliki Tabor

Veliki Tabor, a tentative World Heritage site, is a castle near Desinić in Zagorje which dates from the middle of 15th century. Today it is a museum and host to events of cultural significance to the surrounding populace, such as food festivals and a famous short film festival. Most of the castle was built by the Ráttkay family from Hungary, in whose ownership it remained until 1793. A ghost story is attached to the building, regarding the body of a woman supposedly buried within the castle's walls. She was supposedly murdered upon accusations of witchcraft, the ulterior motive being that Veliki Tabor's then owner did not wish his son to marry the woman. Her voice is said to still inhabit the building.

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© Miroslav Vajdić

Lužnica Castle

Lužnica, a baroque castle built in 1791, is located in the settlement of the same name, just a few miles to the west of the town of Zaprešić in Zagreb county. It was originally built as a residence for a noble family, but since 1925 the building has been owned by the Convent of St. Vincent de Paul, with nuns thereafter using the building as a residential and care home for elderly members of the sisterhood. From 1935 the building was used for the care of poor children, and then for educational classes organised by the nuns, such as cooking and home economics classes for women, plus a kindergarten and singing classes. In 2005. the residential care side of the castle was removed when a brand new, purpose built home for retired nuns was constructed nearby and in 2007, the Marijin Dvor's Spiritual Education Center was opened, organizing spiritual and educational programs under the guidance of the nuns. Today, the castle holds conferences and seminars and is used by the wider community of Zaprešić and Zagreb county.

 

© Borislav Marinic

Krašić

Originally built in the Gothic style of the late 14th century, this complex of buildings was later reconstructed in Baroque style. From 1911 to 1913, it was rebuilt again and became a church. It is now the Parish church of the Holy Trinity, serving the population of Krašić, which is located near Jastrebarsko, about 50 km southwest of Zagreb. Enthusiastic visitors to the region will also not want to miss the nearby Pribić Castle, which is located just three kilometres east of Krašić, It is also fantastic.

 

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Castle Mailáth

Mailáth Castle is located in Donji Miholjac in Osijek-Baranja county, just next to the Hungarian border in Slavonia. Built from 1903 to 1906 for the Hungarian family Mailáth, it lies next to the former baroque castle Prandau. The castle holds rich Neo-Gothic ornamentation, but also contains elements of the Tudor style. Today the castles hold offices of the city's administration. It must be a nice place to work, but as one of very few significant sights in Donji Miholjac, these buildings could perhaps be put to better use as tourist attractions.

© Flammard

Pejačević Castle

The Pejačević family dates back to the 14th century and played a significant part in the country's story during the period in which the Austro-Hungarian empire was being attacked and invaded by the Ottomans. They were very influential in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country, especially in Slavonia, which is where this castle is located, close to Našice. In the second half of the 14th century, sections of the family settled in Bulgaria, joining communities of Bosnians and Germans who brought Catholicism to the regions around Chiprovtsi. The family also have another castle in Virovitica, some 80 kilometres to the north west of Našice, which is also called, rather confusingly, Pejačević castle.

 

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© Pudelek

Stari Grad

Stari Grad fortress in Varaždin is one of the main tourist sights in this north Croatian town and is mentioned as far back as the 12th century. It was reconstructed in the 16th century, when it was converted into a modern Renaissance fortification. At the end of that century, it came into the hands of the Hungarian-Croatian family Erdödy. An image of the fortress used to appear on the back of the old Croatian 5 kuna bank notes, although presumably due to some printer's error, the image was stamped incorrectly and appeared in reverse to how it looks in real life.

Maruševec Castle

Maruševec castle in Varaždin County dates back to 1547, although it has passed through the hands of a series of different noble families and was resored and added to by many, notably in around 1618 by the Vragović family, in 1873 by the Prussian Count Arthur Schlippenbach and from 1883 when then owners, the Pongratz noble family, made some minor adjustments to the building, but more significantly reconstructed its garden. They owned the building until 1945 until such residencies were seized by the Yugoslavian Communist authorities and the family fled to Austria, although in the 2000s, the government of Croatia began the process of returning the property to the heir of the Pongratz family, Count Oskar Pontgratz, in whose ownership the building now lies.

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