Zagorje - The Place Where Family Can Feel Like a Family
We were staying in Zagreb for a whole week. Kids had enough of summer-time-seaside-fun, so we were given a chance to discover continental Croatia as well.
Staying in Zagreb for a week opened many opportunities for us to meet various parts of continental Croatia.
Zagorje especially drew our attention, because the history of Zagreb is in large part attached to it.
There is a word we constantly kept hearing in the streets of Zagreb. The word was – kaj (kai). When we asked about the meaning of the word, it turned out it’s the most used buzzword in Zagreb, a trademark of a sort, with origins coming from the dialect of Zagorje.
So, we decided to investigate the Zagorje regionWe have planned a full-day trip to tour some its highlight spots. A single day, though, would not be enough, but we came up with an itinerary that would make the most of it.
Our full-day tour included 3 distinctive experiences – a traditional Zagorje village in the morning, a SPA for a mid-day relaxation-time, and an afternoon in a castle.
Kumrovec – Zagorje As It Used To Be
While investigating traditions and customs of Zagorje on-line, our search led to us Kumrovec – a small, picturesque village in the western part of the region, where old-village houses were being renovated and turned together into a museum entity that represents cultural and ethnological features of past-time everyday routines of rural Zagorje.
With 40 reconstructed facilities of traditional architecture, The Ethnological Museum Staro Selo (the Old Village) Kumrovec depicts the authentic look of Zagorje villages of the early 20th century.
Arranged sets tell stories of the customs and daily life of peasants and their families, and the various traditional crafts that secured their very existence.
The moment you enter the old village of Kumrovec, you teleport to some past times when life was somehow more closely related to nature.
The kids were amazed. The whole village looks like an educational playground. Each house hides an interesting detail about forging, pottery making or the manufacture of traditional wooden toys.
Our children couldn’t believe that once upon a time toys were built out of wood. These toys couldn’t break so easily, they had real weight, solidity, and warm, soft touch. Not like generic plastic toys these days.
The greatest part is that the village was not built from scratch, nor were the buildings transported from some other location.
All buildings – every single pigsty or a corn shed – were reconstructed in their original locations, and some of the local families are literally living in them, the fact that makes it a truly alive and unique experience.
Inside one of the houses, there is also a restaurant serving traditional specialty of Zagorje, Štrukli, in any gastro form you’d like it – a soup with štrukli, štrukli cooked in boiled water, štrukli baked in bread oven, or sweet štrukli for a dessert.
We tried it all, any kind of štrukli there were, and could easily imagine having štrukli for lunch each and every day.
Fed well, and inspired by all the stories we witnessed, it was time to take an afternoon rest…
And what a better place to take a rest then a SPA.
Zagorje is well known for its wellness and SPA destinations which are spread all over the region. Among them, the most famous is Thermae Tuhelj – one of the most well-rounded tourist recreational centers of continental tourism in Croatia.
Thermae Tuhelj is the largest swimming resort in Croatia.
Only 40 kilometers from Zagreb, Thermae Tuhelj is the favorite wellness spot of Zagreb folks. The ever-busy urban lifestyle of Croatian metropolis is contrasted with this place of healing. contemplation and pure water fun.
For us, the Thermea Tuhelj was the perfect afternoon choice. We could regenerate both our bodies and our minds in its healing waters, saunas, and muds, and children could jump around, squirt and run down the slide as much as they wanted.
There was so much to do and so little time that the hardest part was to choose what to do first. We wanted to do it all at the same time. I mean, who could resist the countless possibilities of 4 outdoor pools (pool with waves, relaxation pool, 2 children’s pools), 4 indoor pools (wellness pool, swimming pool, children’s pool and therapeutic pool), and a slow river with numerous water attractions, water massages, water slides and water toys.
Luckily, the place is safe and completely children-friendly, so we could just let the kids play, while we – the grown-ups – could undisturbedly enjoy the Finnish saunas, and steam saunas, laconium, whirlpool, cold pool, ice pit, Kneipp bath, tranquil areas with different moods and a wellness bar.
The afternoon to remember. Definitely.
But, it was time to go. Fully relaxed and regenerated, we could now end our Zagorje day-tour in an appropriate ambient – a castle.
Veliki Tabor Castle
For that purpose, we chose the Veliki Tabor Castle.
Rising high above the hilly countryside of Zagorje, at the top of Mount Hum Košnički, Veliki Tabor Castle dominated the Zagorje area for over half a millennium. It is one of the most important cultural and historical monuments of secular architecture in continental Croatia, with a unique monumental and authentic fortification structure.
Standing underneath its gigantic walls it was quite clear why this castle is the most famous in Zagorje. The view from it is really impressive – it spreads across the entire Zagorje and even a little bit of Slovenia.
The whole castle was under the sign of dragons. There were theatre performances, concerts, a fair of homemade crafts and products. Children had been given a chance to learn how to construct various kites and build the dragon eggs.
The festival ended after the sunset, with burning down the giant dragon made of wooden slats. It was a glorious event which we couldn’t have expected when we planned our Zagorje excursion.
Kids talked and talked about it on our way back to Zagreb. But, after they recalled all of their impressions they fell asleep at the back seat and probably dreamed of a giant dragon taking them with him to defend the poor village peasants from the cruelty of their wicked landlord. The dragon’s nest was somewhere nearby, that’s for sure, how else to explain all the smoke on the water.
As children were peacefully sleeping, we drove back to Zagreb, completely fulfilled with our excursion.
Zagorje is such a fantastic place where tourism doesn’t get too affective and still offers many delights and unique features.
Every guest of Zagreb city should visit Zagorje to see where the origins of Zagreb come from.
Your CTC Team, S.J.