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Medvedgrad: Zagreb’s Majestic Fortress on the Hill

Medvedgrad has a rich history dating back to the 13th century and it served as a defensive fortress against the invading Mongols. Later, it played a role in the conflicts between the Croatian and Hungarian kingdoms. 

Positioned on the picturesque Medvednica Mountain, the fortress offers stunning panoramic views of Zagreb and its surroundings. The natural beauty of the location adds to the overall appeal of the site. Medvedgrad often hosts cultural events, educational programs, and exhibitions. These activities provide visitors with a deeper understanding of the historical and cultural context of the fortress and the region. 

Medvedgrad
Medvedgrad Fortress

It is situated within the Medvednica Nature Park. It offers the opportunity to combine a visit to the fortress with outdoor activities such as hiking and exploring the natural beauty of the surrounding area. The Visitors’ Center provides additional information about the history of Medvedgrad. It offers services to enhance the visitor experience. This includes guided tours, educational programs, and other amenities. 

Tourists can explore the local cuisine and hospitality in the nearby areas. The region around Medvedgrad may offer traditional Croatian dishes and a chance to experience the local way of life. 

Medvedgrad: A Historical Fortress on the Southern Slopes of Medvednica

Medvedgrad is an ancient fortress located on the slopes of Medvednica, just north of Zagreb. This historical site, also known as Medwed, Medveduar, or Medve, was built in 1247 to defend against Tatar invasions. Despite debates about its builder, historical evidence suggests it was established for defense purposes. 

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The fortress has two strong towers, living spaces, a Romanesque-Gothic chapel named St. Filip and Jakov. It is surrounded by walls and moats. Over the years, Medvedgrad changed hands among various rulers, including bishops, kings, and noble families. 

Initially a small manor, it grew to become the center of Medvedgrad, Lukavec, and Rakovec estates in the 15th century. To protect against Ottoman threats, the fortress was rebuilt in 1487 and 1574. However, by the late 16th century, the focus shifted elsewhere, and Medvedgrad was eventually abandoned. 

Damaged by an earthquake in 1590, the fortress fell into ruin by 1642. After changing owners multiple times, it was finally owned by the Kulmer barons until the end of World War II. The defensive tower collapsed in 1957. Since 1979, the Croatian Restoration Institute has been working on archaeological research and reconstruction. By 1994, the chapel, the southern defense tower, and parts of the palace were restored. 

Medvedgrad
Details of the S.t Juraj Chapel

In 1994, a monument called the “Altar of the Croatian Homeland” was added, designed by K. Kovačić, contributing to the historical significance of Medvedgrad. 

Zrinski Mine and Veternica Cave

In the 16th century, people found galena with silver in the Ruadrski vrt area. This led to mining on Medvednica. Miners worked hard for 10 to 12 hours a day using hammers, wedges, picks, and shovels. By the mid-17th century, the Zrinski family stopped mining because it didn’t give much silver. They had to mine a ton of galena to get only half a kilogram of silver. The mine was neglected until 2004 and had creatures living in it. Then, they started fixing it up. 

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Now, the Zrinski mine is open for visitors. People come in groups to learn about the mine, guided by someone who tells interesting stories. Visitors can hear the sounds and see the tools used in the old days. Dripping water and hammer sounds will stick in your memory. Experiencing what it was like in a mine helps you understand how tough the miners had it back then. 

In the southwest part of Medvednica, there’s a cool cave called Veternica. Water from the Ponikve area made it, and even though it’s the 6th largest cave in Croatia, you can only check out 380 meters of it. 

Medvedgrad

If you go with a guide, you’ll see cool things like big ceilings, a Stone Waterfall, ancient mud, the Well of Wishes, and bones from animals that don’t exist anymore. Veternica Cave is super old and shows that Neanderthals, Roman soldiers, medieval bandits, and other adventurers once lived there. 

The cave used to be home to animals like cave bears, lions, leopards, hyenas, rhinoceroses, and giant deer. Now, it’s a hangout for bats, and scientists study the animals that live there. On the last Saturday in August, they even have an International Bat Night where you can learn cool things about bats. 

Important Information for Visitors!

Operating Hours Medvedgrad Visitors’ Center: The center welcomes visitors from Tuesday to Sunday, between 09:00 and 16:00.

 

The last entry to the center is at 2:30 PM.

Please note that the center is closed on Mondays.

 

Professional guided tours are available at 11:00 and 14:00.

 

Group visits can be arranged with prior notice (minimum 48 hours in advance) and approval from the Medvednica Nature Park Public Institution. 

Discovering Medvednica: A Historical and Natural Tapestry of Croatia

Medvedgrad stands as a captivating testament to Croatia’s medieval history. The fortress, situated within the Medvednica Nature Park, goes beyond its historical significance. It hosts cultural events and educational programs to enrich visitors’ understanding of the region.  

Arial View
Arial View of Medvedgrad Fortress

Moreover, the Zrinski Mine and Veternica Cave add layers to the Medvednica experience. The mine, once a toil for silver, now welcomes visitors to relive the challenging lives of miners. Meanwhile, Veternica Cave, with its ancient formations and rich history. It provides a fascinating journey through time, from Neanderthals to present-day bat habitats. 

For those enticed by this blend of history and natural wonders, we invite you to explore Medvedgrad and its surroundings. Plan your visit during the operating hours of the Medvedgrad Visitors’ Center. Take a professional guided tour, and consider arranging a group visit for a more immersive experience. Embark on this journey to uncover the hidden gems of Medvednica and create lasting memories! 

Your CTC Team

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