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Castles of Croatia

Construction and development of manors and castles on the territory of Croatia can be followed with certainty in the last two millennium –from Roman villa rusticas and palaces (like Diocletian's palace), to medieval castles (burgs), renaissance villas-summer houses in Dubrovnik and Dalmatia, to baroque and historicist manors of Northern Croatia, and town villas and palaces in most bigger Croatian towns. Manors were built as early as the antique period and, with occasional interruptions, were built continuously until the beginning of the 21st century. In Croatia, manors have been reused and adapted to new uses for the past 14 centuries, from the reuse of Diocletian's palace in the 7th century to contemporary reuses at the end of the 20th and beginning of the 21st century.

Since the earliest times, manors have been continuously destroyed, extended or remodelled, and had to adapt to new uses and new owners. Roughly, half of the manors (45%) are in a very bad condition and in need of urgent reconstruction. 17% of the manors are used for dwelling – of which 5% maintained their original use (dwelling of aristocratic families was preserved in continuity); 16% of the manors are used for cultural purposes; 10% of the manors are used for business purposes; six manors were converted into schools; two are used as archives. Social institutions are housed in five and hospitals in seven manors; one manor was put to a religious use, and only four manors are used for tourist purposes.

Trakošćan is the biggest and most celebrated Croatian castle that was built during the 13 th century and which represents one of the best examples of European feudal fortification systems. Today, Trakošćan is transformed into a museum which offers a unique opportunity to discover its and Croatian rich history.

Veliki Tabor castle CroatiaVeliki Tabor
Veliki Tabor is a fortified castle located on a beautiful hill near the setting of little northern Croatian village Desinić. There are few stories about the castle’s history - one legend says that the castle was situated on the top of an island of what was once the Panonian Sea, and the other legend states that Veliki Tabor was built on remains of a Roman fortress from 2 nd century. Actually, this pentagonal tower which was proclaimed as a historical monument of utmost category by UNESCO, was built during 12 th century. The castle has twelve different roofing, a big well in the central court that is 31 meters deep and a wine cellar equipped with a big wine-press. But the most interesting feature of Veliki Tabor castle is definitely the scull of Veronika Desinić, a young and beautiful village girl who was killed and built in the walls of the castle during 15 th century because she had a love affair with one noble man whose father didn’t approve their relationship. There is a legend that one can hear Veronika’s screams around Veliki Tabor during the nighttimes.

Bezanec castle CroatiaBezanec castle
Location: Northern Croatia, Valentinovo 55, 49218 Pregrada. This baroque castle dating from 18th century was renovated during 1930’s in the classic manner and because of that, it has become one of the most representative castles in Croatia. Although it has been devastated during the years after the World War II (at one point, it was turned into a legal city dump!), after the recent renovation, it was turned into a five star hotel. In its exclusive restaurant, guests can enjoy in the rich choice of traditional food and try one of over 490 sorts of vine.

Klenovnik castle
Klenovnik is the biggest Croatian castle. First mentioning of the castle dates back in 13 th century when the Hungarian-Croatian king Bela IV takes it away from Pochun and gives it to then ruler of town Varaždin. In the late 17 th century, king Maksimilijan sells this castle for 20 000 forint to noble Croatian families Gašpar I Drašković. In 19 th century, count Drašković sold Klenovnik in order to gain money for the restoration of his other castle, Trakošćan. Klenovnik was bought by then Austrian minister of finance, baron Bruck. His family later sold the castle which, since then, changes its owners regularly. Today, the castle is owned by city of Zagreb and it has become a hospital for patients with tuberculosis. Before its renovation in 1925, Klenovnik supposedly had 90 rooms and over 365 windows. The castle has a huge and beautiful park, stunning wall paintings from 19th century, three baroque altars, pulpit and a Drašković family vault.

Novi Dvori
Located in the city of Zaprešić, near Zagreb. This castle represents a unique monument of Croatian cultural and historical heritage. It’s also an exceptional example of well preserved integral manorial complex. Although the castle signifies extreme value, after 1945 nobody wanted to invest in its renovation. It was only in 1991 that the state decided to start to renovate this monument.

Marusevec castle CroatiaMarusevec
Situated in Ivanec, near Varaždin, northern Croatia. Castle Maruševac was built somewhere in the beginning of 15 th century by a noble Croatian family Vragović. Baltazar Vragović renovated the castle in 1618 but Maruševec was soon after sold to another family, Patačić. This family owns the castle until 1817 and after that, Maruševec changes owners regularly. This castle had a beautiful park of which only part can be seen today.

Stari Grad castle CroatiaStari Grad Varazdin
Located in the very centre of picturesque city Varaždin, this castle represents one of few fully preserved renaissance fortifications in this part of Europe. The castle is also a home of a unique museum dedicated to thee rich history of this Croatian region.

Location: near Karlovac. There are some Roman ruins (antique graves) found around the village of Bosiljevo. Medieval town of Bosiljevo was rebuilt during the 19th century and because of that, its ground-plan is very irregular and particular. Inside of the castle’s chapel, there is an exquisite baroque altar.

Novigrad na Dobri
Location: Gorski Kotar, central Croatian region. This castle once belonged to the famous Croatian family Frankopan, but after the death of its owner, Fran Krsto Frankopan, it was robbed by Austrian general Herbstein. He later sold it to the knights of the catholic Order of Malta who kept it under their rule until 1746. After them, the owners of the castle became the Croatian noble family Patačić and the members of this family lived in the castle until the beginning of 20.th century. During the World War II, Novigrad na Dobri was seriously damaged but the enchanting beauty of its ruins still gives proof of its rich history.

Mali Tabor castle CroatiaMali Tabor
Location: Northern Croatia , near the village Hum na Sutli. This castle was first mentioned in 1490, but it was completely ruins during 16 th century. At the end of the 17 th century, a new four-winged castle with an inner court was built on the place of the old one. Today, only three towers are all that is left of Mali Tabor castle.

Dubovac castle CroatiaDubovac
Location: city of Karlovac. This castle overlooks the Croatian city Karlovac. Square tower was probably built during the 13 th century. In 15 th century the castle is rebuilt in renaissance manner. The owners of the castle were various – from Slavonian nobleman family Sudar to famous Croatian counts and dukes Frankopan and Zrinski. From 1671. until 1809. the owners of Dubovac were the Karlovac generals. In 1837., a new owner, count Laval Nugent, rebuilt the castle in the spirit of romanticism. Dubovac was once again renovated in 1952. in relation to graphics from the end of 18th century.

Ozalj castle CroatiaRibnik castle
Location: near Ozalj, little town in central Croatian region. Ribnik is a fortified town situated near Ozalj. The castle is preserved and is still under its original roof. The castle is situated near a brook called Obvrh and has a big fish-pond. It has two floors and it has been made of high quality rocks. Their best features are the gothic architectural details that can be found all over the castle.

Location: eastern Croatia, near Osijek. This baroque castle with a low tower above the main entrance has two side wings and a trench. It was built after victory in a battle against the Turks by Eugen Savojski, which coat of arms can be found on the walls of the main room. There is a picturesque baroque church behind the castle dating from 1775.

Location: eastern Croatia, town of Ilok. Castle Ilok was built by nobleman family Odescalchi. This U-shaped and two-floor castle was the starting point of town Ilok and was rebuilt 1793, 1839 and 1889. Its exclusive feature is the spacious park with exotic trees. Today, the castle contains a very rich historical museum.

Castle Vis
Situated on the island of Vis in southern Croatia, Vis was named Issa during the period when Romans ruled this Adriatic island. The remains of the castle Issa are situated on the southern side of hill Gradina. Alongside the castle, there are also ruins of antique theatre, Agora square and monumental thermal resort.

Lies in the region of Dalmatia, town of Kaštela. In the period of Turkish invasions, the people of few Dalmatian villages have built fortifications on the very edge of the coast to protect themselves. At the end of the 15th century, sixteen different fortifications were built very close to one another. They were the home of aristocrat families while the villagers lived in little communities around the castles. These villages will start to unite and form the town of Kaštela. Urbanistic structure of this little towns were very specific and are noticeable even today – in the middle of the village there is a picturesque square, all the streets are built at the right angle and houses had rich inner courts and very rich interiors.

Lobor Dvorac
This is one of the most valuable Croatian castles, situated in northern Croatia. Its three floors have been gradually built since 17 th century and its first owners were those of family Keglević. Oskar Keglević, the last representative of this noble family, sold the castle in 1905 to a merchant Moric Seflenger. Until 1935, the castle didn’t have any major purpose. That year, the castle is bought by dr. Janko Pejas. He places home for social protection inside the fortification. During the Second World War, the castle was used in a very negative way – it was a place where the Jews were gathered before they were sent to the execution camps. Today, Lobor is the home to the social-health protection and is owned by the state. Lobor is much known for its fresques with mythological scenes which can be found in the central part of the castle.


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