Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Croatian Heritage: A Brief Introduction To Croatian Castles, Fortresses & Manors...

Croatia is dotted with hundreds of medieval castles as well as many fortresses, fortifications and manors across the country. A number of them date from the times of the early Croatian rulers, Croatian Kingdom and royal dynasties and other ones of later Croatian dukes, princes and nobles throughout the centuries. Viewing them one can see a wide array of architectural styles including Pre-Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and Neo-Gothic elements, each one having it's own particular story to tell and history. The following examples below are just a few highlights. Photo: Trakošćan Castle (Dvorac Trakošćan) originally dating from the 13th century in the NW region of Croatia.

Today I felt like doing something about just some of the castles, mansions and fortresses that dot the landscape all across Croatia, and the interesting history that each one of them have. A few of them I had a chance to see on my last trip to Croatia. Some of them date back to well over 1000 yrs ago to the times of the first Croatian Kings and Queens. Those buildings have been around long before you were sucking on chicken bones and out of straws at KFC tables. I'm not a castle expert, but have become familiarized with quite a few of them over the past little while. (I'm sort of into all that medieval kind of stuff. Castles, counts, knights, princesses, intrigue, chainmail armour, village wenches, witches, wizards....buhahahaha.)  I don't have the time or space to delve into all the major castles, fortresses or manors because there's just way too many, so this is just sort of an introductory post to a few of them. I remember seeing castles and visiting some fortresses on my last few trips to Croatia. Some of them are even located in areas where people do their daily shopping and such.  It's pretty cool when you go to buy a slice of pizza or wrap, or go to a cafe, and it's located sometimes as part of an old fortress complex or a stones throw away from a castle. Even when you're at that cafe or bar, you can look up into the hills sometimes and there it is. It's pretty frikin cool just knowing that they're there, a certain aura, centuries of stories and voices drifting down to the towns below. (Then for the castles that are found more closer to the cities, take Trsat Castle for instance, there's always some cool events and stuff going on, the nearby cafes/bars buzzing with people)

There are various festivals in Croatia where the castles play an important part in the festivities and celebrations, and many international film makers over the years have also been using the backdrop of Croatian castles and medievel fortresses/manors in their movies. Some of them have even been converted partly into hotels and have pretty cool bars/clubs and restaurants. A growing number of them now also include museums complete with media centers, tours and re-enactments also.

Croatia is dotted with hundreds of castles, a number of them are intact but most have undergone various stages of damage through the centuries, and some are ruins. Unfortunately, through the centuries many battles were fought across the lands, time and destruction by Ottoman wars naturally took their toll, and then again during the Serbian ethnic cleansing campaigns many more were damaged along with other historical and cultural buildings. Some of the oldest castles and fortresses are ruins or are a shadow of their former self from centuries ago. Those that weren’t destroyed in battle were abandoned and fell into ruin. But exploring these ruins can be a fascinating experience. As they usually were built on a hill or mountain tops, the views and the architecture can be spectacular, and wandering through them conjures up visions of what might have transpired there over the centuries. (If you're lucky enough, you might stumble upon an old buried coin, perhaps a king's, queen's or dukes goblet or even a wizard's magical ring)

The historic Knin Fortress and Klis Fortress which both date to well over a thousand years ago, are just a couple examples, however there they still stand as reminders of their more historic and glorious days, when they were official royal residences of Croatian Kings and Queens, and later dominant and of vital importance in defending the lands through the centuries. Castles, fortresses and manors from various centuries, from the different regions of Croatia, using different architectural styles. Many of the castles and fortresses in Croatia have had a large part to play in battles and defending not only Croatian lands, but all of Europe also, from the Ottomans as well as other armies. It was for this reason that in 1519 Croatia was called the Antemurale Christianitatis (Latin for the Bulwark of European Christiandom) and saviour of Europe by Pope Leo X,  later the French clergyman and statesman Cardinal Richelieu went even further and was reported to have described the historic defence at Sisak Fortress against the much larger Ottoman armies as "the Battle that saved Civilization". Some of the Castles and Fortresses have been listed as Croatian Heritage Sites and have been undergoing restoration and repair thanks to the Croatian Ministry of Culture, a long, costly and involved process. (Strict attention to detail, using the same stones and material from ruins on site to form the bricks, to make the mortar etc)

Ashley Colburn visited Trakošćan Castle on her American Emmy award winning television travel documentary "WOW Croatia" which I posted HERE. I'm telling you, it's such a cool feeling when you see these various castles and fortresses dotting the landscape as you travel along. Some of the more older ones reaching back to the middle ages are of course in ruins, but yet, still there they are to remind you. Nestled in the hills overlooking the city, town or countryside, perched in the mountains....mesmerizing you...mystically drawing you in to look at them without saying a word, still overlooking the valleys and land and sea below. Reminding you of the battles and wars that took place many centuries ago, reminding you of those people and times of valor, danger and many heroic epic sagas. (Reminding you of your history, because it's part of your history man. It's like fractions, they are a fraction of you, fractions of your history in the hills for centuries man. You can't continue on being who you are and recalling your glorious past by missing fractions of yourself. You can't be 1/5th, 1/3rd or 10/16ths of yourself. Those castles and fortresses, ruined or not ruined, are fractions of you man. Those remains of mortar, bricks and stone are more than just that, they're not just mere stones and bricks, they're sacred blood, sweat and bones man, those castles, fortresses and manors flow through your veins man) Also, if you read the descriptive paragraph for Kutjevo Castle, one can see not all castle history is bland and boring at all. You can click onto the links for more photos and information.




Explore the heritage of Croatian ancestors - visit wonderful Croatian castles

Source: www.guide2croatia.net

Croatia is one of the easternmost countries in Europe that owns castles. Of 1000 castles that existed in the 18th century, 180 of them are preserved, and some of them are true masterpieces of architecture.

Once, there were a thousand castles and manor houses on the Croatian territory, and about 180 of them are still preserved, mostly in the northwestern part of the country.

The castles in Croatian Zagorje were built in the 16th century, earlier than in other parts of the country, such as Dubrovnik (from 15th to 17th century) and Istria (from 17th to 19th century), and are relatively early even in comparison with European countries.

Best preserved castles were built in the 17th and 18th century, at a time when the danger of Turkish conquests passed. During this period, castles were built under the strong influence of Central European Baroque architecture.

Today, they are the precious cultural, historical and architectural heritage that explain the social and economic conditions of the time when they emerged. They were not only the center of the property and of agricultural production, or even aristocratic country houses of residence, but also the centers of culture and spiritual life, because besides the nobility, many artists, writers, musicians and architects gathered.


Bežanec was built in the 18th century on a hill above the Pregrada in Krapina Zagorje County. A four-storey building was built, with an inner courtyard. In the 19th century it was renovated in the classicist style, and belongs to the first category monuments.

It is approached up the maple alley, about a hundred meters and is surrounded by gardens arranged in different periods.

The estate was owned by counts Keglević, and afterwards the owners often changed. Today, the castle has been converted into a hotel with a restaurant. It makes a great resort, and often serves for filming of various productions.


Trakošćan Castle  is usually considered the most beautiful castle in Croatia, situated in the north west part of Croatian Zagorje. The beginning of its construction started in the 13th century and it was first mentioned in sources in the 14th century, except that it was at first a smaller fort. Later in the turbulent historical turmoil, it frequently changed owners and was rebuilt and redecorated. (Photo Credit Aerial Croatia)

Drašković family, one of the most prominent Croatian count families, owned this castle for almost three and a half centuries. The castle was badly damaged in the clash between Gašpar the Younger and his son-in-law Nikola Zrinski. Subsequently, the family preferred to live in their restored and enlarged castle at Klenovnik. However, they retained the title of “Trakošćan” in their name, while continuing to restore and fortify their old castle, now primarily for military use. During the 18th century the castle was largely neglected as the family no longer spent most of their time there. In the first half of the 19th century however, the family again took interest in the castle, but now the castle reflected the spirit of the new age, a romantic return to nature and family traditions. At this time the castle was restored and turned into a full-time residential dwelling.

The second generation of the Drašković family enlarged it considerably by adding the west tower. This round tower served as an artillery station equipping the castle for active firearms defense. The coat of arms and the inscription bear witness to the fact that it was built by the brothers Ivan II and Petar Drašković in 1592. It was then that Trakošćan acquired its present-day dimensions, as witnessed by the earliest surviving account dating from 1667. The castle has a huge garden in the middle of the forest-park and an artificial lake. In the mid-19th century it took today's appearance.

The most prominent pieces in furniture collection are those dating from the 19th century and specially manufactured for the restored castle, some bearing the family coat of arms. However, the furniture from the earlier centuries should not be passed over lightly. We wish to draw attention to several cabinets, a bed and wardrobes from the same period, and several high-quality sets of furniture from the rococo period. Luxurious interiors with original furniture evoke the ambiance in which rich aristocrats lived in the 19th century.


Knin Fortress (Croatian: Kninska tvrđava) is a partially ruined fortress and former castle located just above the town of Knin, Croatia. It is one of the biggest and most significant defensive strongholds and a historical town in the Šibenik-Knin county in the Dalmatian hinterland. The construction of the fortress started as early as the 9th century, while the current state was brought up in the 17th and 18th centuries. Knin Fortress reached its peak as a castle and official royal residence during the reign of Demetrius Zvonimir, King of Croatia from 1076, and it served as a political centre of the Croatian Kingdom under him.

Knin Fortress in 1688.

The Croats built the fortress near a devastated Roman settlement (Latin: Tignino castro), soon after they settled in the area in the 7th century. From the 8th to 11th century its guardians continuously upgraded the structure to accommodate the defensive needs at that time. It was one of the residences of Croatian Monarchs, and possibly became the main residence later for a time, since it was much safer and strategic to rule from Knin over the lands of the former Liburnia, as well as ancient Dalmatia. From Knin Fortress is also where began stronger efforts to Christianize the still many pagan Croats in Gacka, Lika and Krbava. This is testified by a handful of churches in the Knin area and near the Knin Fortress that were built previous to as well as during the time and reign of  the 9th century Croatian Duke Trpimir (reign 845-864).

The fortress contained ceremonial halls and the palace of the ruling Croatian Monarchs and their royal courts, here they issued their royal charters, documents and lived with their courtiers during their stay in Knin. On the other more raised plateau of the mountain Spas, south from the fortress Tnena, a second, smaller fortification was built; the Citadel Lab (Latin: castro Lab, Labwar) which was the seat of the Croatian Ban/Viceroy.

The diocese of Knin was established in 1040 by King Stephen I of Croatia, which spanned the whole surrounding area and north to the river Drava, which today is still the border with Hungary. The bishop of Knin also had the nominal title as the "Croatian bishop". The fortress was divided into a small and a big town in the 14th century. The small town was used primarily for defensive reasons, while the big town comprised the flats that were occupied by the town's governors, bishops or župans. Suburbs were located just outside the walls. The oldest section is the upper town on the northern side of the fortress, while the middle and lower towns were built in the Late Middle Ages.

It is possible that in the 15th century during the rising danger of the Ottoman advance towards Europe from the Sanjak of Smederevo, an additional railing defensive wall was constructed on which the main entrance to the fortress is situated today. During the Croatian-Ottoman wars, including those battles as part of the Habsburg-Ottoman wars, both of these fortifications and citadels were connected in a unified defensive complex.

View of Knin Fortress in the background before ceremonies for the annual commemoration of Operation Storm in 1995 (Croatian: Operacija Oluja), a humanitarian military operation that liberated Knin and surrounding areas saving many thousands of lives from Serbia supported Serb terrorists, paramilitaries and armed irregulars who ethnically cleansed Croats and other Non-Serbs from their homes since 1991, (along with Serb church supported armed irregulars and remaining Ex-Yugoslav army forces which was solely a Serbian army by that point) and then continued many attacks against civilians areas elsewhere. For this reason Knin Fortress these days is a symbol of Croatian defence, refusal to submit to foreign agressors as well as an historic raised citadel representing freedom, peace and stability within its borders.

The oldest known graphical presentation of Knin was recorded on a map of northern Dalmatia and Lika region by a Venetian cartographer, Matteo Pagano (1515-1588), around 1525. However, the more detailed description of the urban appearance of the fortification was handed by another Venetian, the military engineer named Orazio Antonio Alberghetti (1656-1690) in one of his schemes made at the time of the expulsion of the attacking Turks in 1688.

Knin Fortress is also a popular tourist destination these days for those interested in early Croatian history and the Croatian Monarchical centuries in the Middle Ages especially. The City of Croatian Kings – Knin, holds the popular summer event "Zvonimirovi Dani" (Days of Zvonimir), which is a summer festival themed around the times that King Dmitar Zvonimir reigned and used Knin Fortress as a royal residence, and includes a full 11th Century experience including archery, sword fighting, music, medieval cuisine and drinks, workshops and the forgotten crafts, as well as a series of live performances and presenting historical reenactments, the arrival of the King and Queen (Zvonimir and Jelena), a Knight’s Tournament and the live Night’s Siege of the Fortress (catapult attack and fire show) and fireworks. Nearby one can also eat at the Knin Fortress restaurant and have close views of the fortress complex and of the town of Knin below.


This best preserved medieval city and a representative example of fortification architecture was built in the second half of the 15th century, located 333 meters above sea level, it sits on the western edge of the Croatian Zagorje region. (Hrvatsko Zagorje)  Despite the additions and renovations in the 17th and 18th century, which turned the fortress into a castle, Veliki Tabor has retained and preserved late Gothic architectural composition. The roof consists of twelve different materials. The castle interior has galleries with round pillars. There is a large well, 31 m (102 ft) deep, and a former wine cellar. The huge basement chamber has barrels from 53 to 5450 liters, a rustic bar with a wide range of wines and a press for grapes. The large hall is decorated with halberds from those periods.

Many stories and legends are associated with Veliki Tabor. One of them says how young Count Friedrich of Celje, who's infatuation with the beautiful Veronika Desinić, had killed his wife Elizabeth. When Friedrich's father, Prince Herman of Celje, found out about that, he had Veronika killed and then buried her inside the rock wall up above the Knights' lounges in the castle accusing her of being a witch, her skull is located in the chapel of the first floor.

The collections in the exhibition spaces include old vehicles, ethnographic items, the first manufacture of medicines, swords and armor, paintings and pottery, as well as a presentation of the noble Ratkaj family which used to own the castle. Here there are important books which have very old, such as: a) Memoria Regum et Banorum Regnorum Dalmatiae Croatiae et Slavoniae b) Constituto criminalis theresianum and others. There is armor of a young knight from the 16th century and an old fireplace where bread is made. Here is also the oldest Croatian rifle from the 15th century. Present are also the oldest swordsman's masks from the 18th century.

The great Croatian artist Oton Iveković was the owner of Veliki Tabor Castle from 1919 to 1933, in these years he was inspired by the romantic period and the events in the older history of Croatia.  Here you can see his painting "Dolazak Hrvata na Jadran" (Arrival of the Croats at the Adriatic), "Krunidba kralja Tomislava (Coronation of King Tomislav) and other classics, and over 100 other paintings that Croatian artists gave to the city of Zagreb commemorating it's 900th anniversary.  Since 2002, Veliki Tabor has been the venue of an international festival of short films. The castle has been undergoing renovations since 6 November 2008, and has been closed to public since. The renovation works were eventually finished in November 2011 and include a museum as well as guided tours, re-enactments, children's plays and activities to experience the ambiance of the times.


The largest castle in Croatia was built in the early 17th century in Klenovnik, on the slopes of Ravna hill near Trakošćan castle and Varaždin. Castle in Klenovnik is a two-story, early Baroque building, to which two parallel wings were added at a later stage.

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 castle chapel in which skilled Varaždin carpenters and sculptors of the first half of the 18th century worked. The chapel was restored in 1925. The castle also contains a Drašković family vault.

The richest aristocratic family Draskovic owned it for some time. Count Juraj VI. Draskovic, former owner of the castle, sold Klenovnik in the mid 19th century in order to restore the Trakošćan castle.  (See above)


Trsat Castle (Croatian: Gradina Trsat) is a fortress-castle in Trsat, Croatia, just above the city of Rijeka. The Croatian noble Vuk Krsto Frankopan is buried in one of the churches. It was the Frankopan dynasty based in Krk who fortified and enlarged the castle as it gave them a vantage point to protect their holdings. Trsat belonged to the Frankopans from the 13th through the 15th century and it then fell under Hapsburg rule. It suffered damage from an earthquake in 1750.

Trsat Castle has it's earlier roots from the early middle ages when it was a fortified fort. The Croatian Prince Višeslav in the year 799 defeated Eric of Friuli and his Carolingian army near Trsat, later it became part of the holdings of Croatian nobles such as the House of Frankopan. It played a crucial role in defending not only Croatian lands but also Europe against the attacks of the Ottoman empire.

Trsat above the town of Rijeka in the year 1689.

Trsat castle was completely reconstructed and renovated in the 19th century when the mausoleum of the military commander Laval Nugent was built in its interior. The famous Croatian Uskok knez/captain, Petar Kružić is also buried in Trsat. The courtyard of the castle has now been turned into a restaurant and many tourists visit the place during the summer months. Today Trsat Castle is an R and R destination for locals who enjoy the sweeping views of the Kvarner gulf from the top of the hill. Near the church is Frankopan Square which teems with cafes and people--especially in the summer when Rijekans head to the hills. There are cafes, art galleries and occasional concerts.


Castle Dubovac (Croatian: Utvrđeni grad Dubovac) is near Karlovac, an industrial town with its own fortress area, at a major crossroads in central Croatia. This castle overlooks the Croatian city of Karlovac. The quare tower was probably built during the 13th century or perhaps earlier. In the 15th century the castle was rebuilt in renaissance manner.

The owners of the castle were various - from the Croatian Slavonian region 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." There is a photograph of the castle at that site.

The castle was used for several years recently as a hotel, and the damage done to the interior to accommodate rooms, is now being repaired. There are museum exhibits and a large model of the countryside. Guide materials indicate that the fortress was built on a hill constructed by the people in order to maximize defenses and views of the surrounding areas.

The castle recently was featured on a commemorative Croatian postage stamp. (See www.kontkod.hr) There is also the Dubovac Castle Museum Exhibit and related entertainment events that take place at Dubovac Castle.


Fortress Kastel is a castle in Hrvatska Kostajnica, a town in central Croatia, near the border to Bosnia and Hercegovina. The fortress was built most probably in the 14th century and owned by the members of the noble families Frankopan, Lipovečki, Tot, Benvenjud and finally (in 16th century) Zrinski, so it is today also known as "Zrinski fortress" or "Zrinski castle." (Croatian: Stari grad Zrinski).

It was conquered by the Ottomans on July 17th, 1556, but it was freed from their rule relatively fast, in 1688. Situated on the bank of the river Una, the fortress has very strong walls and three towers. Having been in pretty bad shape before, it has been renewed in the recent years by the Croatian Ministry of Culture.


Baron Josip Vrkljan is credited for the highest level of classicist architecture in Croatia. Models for the castle in Januševac,  (Croatian: Dvorac Januševac) Vrkljan probably found among neoclassical villas in northern Italy, apparently designed by the famous Bartolomej Felbinger, one of the most famous architects in the 19th century in Zagreb and its surroundings. In the mid-19th century Januševec estate owned about fifty peasant houses and large forest expanses.

The castle was badly damaged in World War II, and after the war its long-term reconstruction began. The architect Zvonimir Vrkljan, a descendant of General Vrkljan who actually built it, supervised the reconstruction. Today a part of the Croatian National Archives is located in the castle.


The Nehaj Fortress (Croatian: (Tvrđava Nehaj) is a fortress built on the hill Nehaj overlooking the town of Senj, Croatia. This name was given to the hill and the Fortress by the Uskoks, who built it on the top of this hill for defensive purposes. The nickname Nehaj comes from the Croatian dialect word which loosely means "No Worries" or "Don't Care". They gave the hill and the Fortress such a name because they wanted to emphasize to the citizens of the town of Senj, and all of those that lived in the vicinity of the town, that they should not care or have any worries that the hill or town will be taken by the Turks, whenever and as long as the Uskoks are on the hill and in their fortress. Also, that they did not care how many Turkish Ottoman soldiers they had to fight in battle, because they were there.

The Uskoks were a group of 16th century dispossessed Croats from all walks of life from other Croatian areas and Bosnia who were driven off their land by the invading Turkish Ottoman empire. Many settled on the coast, especially in Senj, and eventually turned to piracy to support their wars. As well as attacking the Turks, they turned to attacking the Venetian ships (because they were carrying Turkish goods) and the ally Orthodox Serb subjects of the expanding Turkish Ottoman empire. In the Croatian language this fortress has also other names, which are: Kula Nehaj, which means Nehaj Tower, and Nehajgrad, which means Nehajtown.

It was built by Croatian army general Ivan Lenković, a captain of the Uskoks, and finished in 1558.  The fortress was mainly built to fight the Ottoman Empire and even Venice. The Uskoks (who built and inhabited the fort) were great enemies of these two nations. The fortress withstood numerous attacks from the Ottomans, and held the border. The Venetians viewed them as pirates, since they would plunder and sink their ships. Finished in 1558, it was built on the remains of ruined churches, monasteries and houses which were situated outside of the walls of Senj. These buildings were scrapped since it was concluded that they would not survive anyway if they were outside the city walls, as the Ottomans would loot them or use them as housing during sieges as they did elsewhere. They were known to travel as far as Istria and plunder Venetian ships. In 1524 the famous Croatian Uskok knez/captain Petar Kružić went to Senj and gathered 1500 footmen and cavalry and led them to besieged Klis Fortress, defeating the attacking Turkish army. During the hundred years that the Uskoks were active they stood by their oath of vengeance towards all their enemies which they took after their former Klis Fortress was conquered by the Ottomans in 1537.

These days inside the Fortress, there are displays of cannons and other household items, as well as a collection of costumes and weapons of the Uskoks of Senj. There is also an annual medieval festival that is held in Senj, and an important part of it is when the "Uskoks" march up to the fortress on horseback. There are also crafting workshops and other medieval themed attractions around the fortress at this time. Today, the fortress serves primarily as a museum


The fortress, known in Croatian as Gradina Tvrdalj (Tvrdalj Castle) was built and personally designed by Croatian Renaissance poet Petar Hektorović, in the town of Stari Grad (Croatian: Old Town) on the island of Hvar in the 16th century. Hektorović himself put dozens of inscriptions in Croatian, Latin and Italian.

It is said that Hektorović built this castle for himself and friends, but also that it was an offering of hospitality to travelers and the poor. During the 16th century, the island of Hvar came under attack from the Ottoman Turks. Hektorović, one of the local nobles, undertook to fortify his house so that it could act as shelter for the local citizens.

The biggest attraction of the entire complex is a pond of brackish water inhabited with gray mullet, behind which there is a carefully kept park. It is believed that the pond was created on the ruins of the ancient piscine or port devices. With a long sea-facing wall preventing it from attack and intrusion, entering the courtyard is something of a surprise, and includes a large fishpool and herb garden. The main gardens have gradually been replanted over the last twenty-odd years with an astonishing variety of Mediterranean plants.

Horses often graze in the paddocks alongside the gardens. There is a display of historical tools and agricultural equipment in an enclosed area to one side, and one can climb up a small tower nearby to look over the property. The house itself, which boasts one of the earliest indoor toilets in Europe, is not open to the public, but the gardens and fishpond are a delight to visit, especially in summer, when they are a refreshing oasis of shady peace to shelter in.


Šibenik-Knin county is home to at least 15 fortifications, 11 of them from the medieval period are still in good condition to this day. Four of these are located within the town of Šibenik. Their duty as the town's defence system was to protect the town from invasions throughout the centuries, least of not the Ottomans. 230 Cultural Monuments as well as well as 600 Archeological sites are located in the area.

Tvrđava svetog Mihovila (English: St. Michael' Fortress) is situated on a hill, 70 m above sea level. White trimmed stone was used for its construction, which lasted from the 15th up to the 17th century.  It covers a surface area of about 2600 m2. During archaeological excavations, architectural remains and plenty of culture-historical artifacts from the times of the Venetian rule were found, but also the rest of the material culture from the Iron Age, including material artifacts which proves the fact that the Croats built the fortress on the site of an ancient Illyrian camp.

Four towers are fully preserved, and it is interesting that they are a part of the fortress walls, also that today we even have a tower that is now used as a residential building, while the wall of the prince's palace from the sea is actually a defensive wall with two preserved towers. The fortress often changed hands after the Croatian Kings and nobles, eventually first the Croatian-Hungarian Kings, Byzantines and then Venetians in the 15th century. Napolean and the Austrian empire then controlled the fortress for a time also.

Unlike some other cities along the Adriatic coast, which were established by Greeks, Illyrians and Romans in antiquity initially as small outposts, Šibenik on the other hand was founded by the Croats. The modern day city of Šibenik was mentioned for the first time under its present name in 1066 in a Charter of the Croatian King Petar Krešimir IV.  For a period of time, it was a seat of this Croatian King. For that reason Šibenik is also called "Krešimirov grad" (Krešimir's city). It is the oldest native Croatian town on the eastern shores of the Adriatic. It's importance to the medieval Croatian state is illustrated by the number of times that 11th-century Croatian Kings brought their royal court here and convened important assemblies – Petar Krešimir IV in 1066, King Zvonimir in 1078, and Stephen II in 1080.  


Ozalj Castle (Croatian: Stari grad Ozalj or Gradina Ozalj/the old town Ozalj) is a castle in the town of Ozalj, Croatia. The Ozalj fortress, located on the stone cliff perched above the Kupa river, is one of the best known fortifications of this type in Croatia. It is a very old stronghold (first mentioned in 1244) which had been converted into a castle.

The popularity of this castle is because this was the joint castle of the Croatian noble families of Frankopan and Zrinski. In fact, it was the scene of the unlucky Zrinski-Frankopan conspiracy, which significantly marked the history of Croatia as well as of Hungary.

It is situated at an elevation of 146 meters. A little known about interesting local legend has it that in 1451 Vlad Țepeș, also known as Vlad Dracula, found temporary refuge at Ozalj for a time, before returning back to Wallachia and Transylvania. This would have been during the time of the noble Prince Ivan VII Frankopan (aka Ivan Krčki: of Krk) and Stjepan Frankopan the son of Croatian Ban/Viceroy Nikola Frankopan. Afterwards Vlad Dracula gathered and lead troops against the invading Ottomans and would become renown across Europe for his new military exploits and tactics.

In the castle there is a museum and library open to the public. The Castle is also not far from the grave of Slava Raškaj, Croatia's most famous water colour painter.


The Fortress of Cetin (Croatian: Cetingrad) is situated 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) south of Cetingrad above the village of Podcetin, in central Croatia. The time of foundation of Cetin is unfortunately still unknown. There are some indications that the settlement existed there in the times of the Roman Empire. The parish of All Saints was first mentioned in 1334. In 1387 Cetin was donated to Ivan Krčki by king Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor and became the property of the Frankopan family.

The Middle Ages were the golden era of Cetin. Near the fortress there was a Franciscan monastery and several churches. In 15th century the Cetinski branch of Frankopan family was formed but did not last more than hundred years. Ivan Frankopan Cetinski died in Battle of Krbava field. His brother Grgur and son Franjo Frankopan became archbishops of Kalocsa. Franjo Frankopan was the last member of the family of Frankopani Cetinski. After him, the fortress became property of Frankopani Slunjski.

 Cetin Castle in 1866. Image: arhinet.arhiv.hr

Cetin played an important role in the History of Croatia. After the defeat at the Battle of Mohács in 1526, the Croatian nobility gathered at Parliament on Cetin (Croatian Cetinski Sabor). On January 1, 1527 they elected Habsburg Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria as the king of Croatia. The Cetingrad Charter (Croatian: Cetingradska povelja) signed by Croatian nobles, which bears a fine example of the chequered state seal of Croatia and representatives of Ferdinand of Habsburg is among the most important documents of Croatian statehood and is preserved in the Austrian State Archives in Vienna.

In the following centuries, Cetin was part of the Military Frontier, the borderland between the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire. During this period, Ottoman army several times took control of it . The fortress was several times damaged and repaired. Two stone plates with Arabic inscriptions in the Croatian History Museum testify about reconstructions made during this period. In 1790 Austrian troops under the command of general Walisch finally returned Cetin to the Habsburg monarchy. Siege of the fortress took one month, and after the battle several officers were decorated. One of them was also Johann I Josef, Prince of Liechtenstein. Status of Cetin was finally confirmed during the peace conference in Svishtov. In 1809 Ottoman forces once again occupied Cetin but in 1810 they withdraw under the threats of Marshal Marmont, governor-general of Illyrian provinces. When the Ottoman threat was gone the fortress became less strategic and important and was abandoned, sometimes used as quarry. Administrative control was transferred to village of Cetingrad which developed north of Cetin. A rare and interesting photograph of Cetin Castle (See Here) taken in 1866 shows what the castle looked like at the time.


Castle Lovrečina (Lovrečina Grad) is a castle 4 km away from the town of Vrbovec, on the road to Križevci and near Zagreb. (Photo: www.zoran-jelaca.com)

The history of Castle Lovrečina goes back to the end of 1102 when it was built on the road leading to Gostović. It was first mentioned in the year In 1223 under it's current name as being located near the shallows of nearby St. Lawrence church. (Lovrečina Varos). The castle was further enlarged in 1540 . when it was used by the Gregorians and attained it's current look, It served in the struggle against the Turkish Ottoman advances and was damaged in 1755.

The castle originally had three wings with cylindrical towers at the corners, today only 2 of them have been preserved. In the 19th century the castle was rebuilt in the spirit of net-baroque.

In the eighties the famous Croatian movie Canary Mistress (1988) was filmed there, based on a novel by August Šenoa of the same title. Since 1956, the castle has been used as a convent of the Sisters of Mercy, and since 1999 the castle has been used as an educational center of the Cenacolo Community. The castle can be visited on Saturdays and Sundays and during the week by appointment. More information at www.tz-vrbovec.hr.


Klis Fortress (Croatian Tvrđava Klis) is a medieval fortress situated above a village bearing the same name, near the city of Split, in central Dalmatia, Croatia. From its origin as a small stronghold to becoming a royal castle and residence of Croatian Dukes/Princes and that was the seat of many Croatian Kings, to its final development as a large fortress during the Ottoman wars in Europe, Klis Fortress has guarded the frontier, being lost and re-conquered several times throughout its long history. Due to its location on a pass that separates the mountains Mosor and Kozjak, the fortress served as a major source in the defense of Dalmatian Croatia, especially during the Croatian–Ottoman wars and overall Habsburg-Ottoman wars.

Since Duke Mislav of Littoral Croatia made Klis Fortress the seat of his throne in the middle of the 9th century, the fortress has served as the seat of many Croatia's rulers. The reign of his successor, Duke Trpimir I, the founder of the Croatian royal House of Trpimirović, is significant for spreading Christianity in the Littoral Croatia. He largely expanded the Klis Fortress. During the reign of the first Croatian King Tomislav, Klis and Biograd na Moru were his chief residences.

During the Middle Ages, the Kingdom of Croatia was in a personal union with the Kingdom of Hungary, with Béla IV as a king.  In the 13th century Hungary and Central Europe including Russia was overun by the the Mongols. Béla  IV fled Hungary south to Zagreb, but the poorly-fortified Zagreb was unable to resist the invasion and was destroyed, its cathedral burned by Mongols. The Mongol pursuit of Béla IV continued from Zagreb through Pannonia to Dalmatia and Klis.

Klis Fortress in the 16th century.

The Croatians crushed a Mongol army at the battle of Klis in 1242, the mountainous terrain of this part of Croatian Dalmatia and the great losses they suffered from Croat ambushes set up in mountain passes was fatal for the Mongol invaders. The death of Ögedei Khan (Croatian: Ogotaj) happened shortly afterwards. Although much of Croatia was plundered and destroyed, long-term occupation was proven to be unsuccessful. It was during this time that Saint Margaret (January 27, 1242 – January 18, 1271), a daughter of Béla IV and Maria Laskarina, was born in Klis Fortress during the Mongol invasion of Hungary-Croatia in 1242. In the early 16th century Petar Kružić (Prince of Klis) defended the Klis Fortress against Turkish invasions. He died in 1537 in the final charge of the Turks, who conquered the stronghold temporarily after almost two and a half decades of his successful defence.

The Klis Fortress has been developed as a visitor attraction by the "Kliški Uskoci" re-enactment association in Klis with the aid of the conservation department of the Ministry of Culture in Split. Visitors to the historic military structure can see an array of arms, armor, and traditional uniforms. Klis is remembered in a Croatian byword based on the resistance of Klis and the strength of its people: It is difficult for Klis because it is on the rock, and it is difficult for the rock because Klis is on it.


The former residence of the Jesuits in Kutjevo, it was built on the groundworks of a medieval Cistercian abbey named Honestae Vallis. The famous wine cellar which is still preserved, was built by Jesuits in the period from 1721 to 1735, as a baroque complex with the church and castle.

The legend of the secret love between Empress Maria Theresa and Baron Trenck is associated with this Kutjevo castle.(Croatian: Dvorac Kutjevo). In fact, legend says that they spent seven days locked in the cellar, getting drunk on wine from the local vineyards. Later, the cellar workers found 150 marks on the wall and a concave dent formed in the stone table located along the wall from their racy meeting.

The legend goes that those marks represent 150 love pleasures and that the dent was melted into form by hot empress butt. Although Baron Trenck wasn't an ethnic Croat, even now there is a phrase in Germany: "Wir sind Kroaten, wir sind panduren" (We are Croats, we are pandurs") because his Pandurs were formed overwhelingly primarily of Croats.

For the entire month of May, every corner of the city of Kutjevo in Slavonija, the easternmost region of Croatia, commemorates the passing through of the Great Empress of Austria. Every year in this period, the Croatian town dives into a past of almost three hundred years ago in celebrating the visit made by the enlightened sovereign by holding historical commemorations, military parades and performances by musical bands.


Ružica town (English: Rose town. Croatian: Ružica grad) literally meaning, "Castle of the Little Rose", is situated in the northeast mountain range of Papuk on 418 m above sea level, above the village Duzluk, a few km's from the town of Orahovica. It represents the largest preserved fortress complex in the area of Slavonia, and one of the largest in Croatia.  Ružica town is located on the strategic position, from which one can control large part of Slavonian Podravina. Nearby the town, the communication line from Podravina to Požega valley (road Kutjevo-Orahovica) passes. Due to that, the town had great importance during turbulent events in late Middle-ages (12th to 15th century).

The name of Ružica Town is not entirely studied. Some authors bring it in the relation with the wild rose,  often used as a young girls decoration.  that the name was taken out of Reholcz, which was the middle-age name for Orahovica town, because during the middle ages, town of Ružica belonged to property of Orahovica. This property is first mentioned in year 1228. The fortress itself is first mentioned in 1357, as a royal property, and later it was ownership of different aristocrats, among which are Nikola Kont, Lovro Iločki, Ladislav More, brothers Pomanicki, and others.

Ružica town, as well as entire surrounding, comes under Turks occupation in 1543. Throughout the entire period under Turk's occupation, Ružica town was a military fort. The 18th century was a period of stability and the state with strong central authority, so the forts of a middle-ages type lost their importance. This also happened with Ružica town. In the period from 18th to 20th century, numerous owners of Orahovica property changed, and the Ružica town was an integrative part of this. The 18th century was a period of stability and the state with strong central authority, so the forts of a middle-ages type lost their importance. This also happened with Ružica town. In the period from 18th to 20th century, numerous owners of Orahovica property changed, and the Ružica town was an integrative part of this. Among other owners were baron Cordua, baron Fleischmann, earls Pejačević Dimitrije Mihalović and baron Gutman.

The famous historian Đuro Szabo says: "If someone asks who, or what is Ružica, one cannot answer in one word. It is not a town (germ. burg), not a court (germ. Schloss), not a fortress (germ. Festung), but all together". Ružica town has a shape of an ellipse, and is consisted of a strong defensive entrance, town chapel, and middle part of the town, a pentagon shaped fortress and thick walls that surround the town. The town is a bond of rough building of thick, large walls and towers, and gentle stonework that decorated the inner of the walls - like 'the beauty and the beast' in one. One can approach the forest by taking a light walk through the forest form the direction of Orahovica lake, a well-known weekend resort for the local population and hunters. Below the Ružica town there is a natural elevation from which, when the weather is favourable, one can see entire Croatian Pannonian plains and valley.

A particular attraction to visit this area of Slavonian Croatia because of the various Legends of Ružica grad, a few version's are as follows:

...."During the times of the Croat battles against the Frank's, there lived a princess named Ružica .  All of her brothers had died in the wars and battles against the Franks as soldiers, so she decided that it would be best to marry some powerful and wealthy knight and move on. She and her remaining family decided then to organize a knights tournament, with the aim of the victorious knight winning Ružica's hand in marriage. The tournament was held as planned and finally a victor was declared.   Ružica thought that finally now she will be happy. The knight's identity was unknown as his face was hidden.  The knight then took off his armour and helmet and Ružica immediately knew. She knew that this was the Frankish night who had led his army to battle and killed her brothers. That night Ružica climbed to the top of the castle, saddened to have to spend the rest of her life with the Frankish knight, knowing that it was he who had killed all of her brothers and boasted all of his battlefield successes. She walked to the very top and standing at the edge decided to end her life by throwing herself against the rocks far below. It was just before she jumped that the skies filled with thunder and lightning, and it rained small red roses, which started to grown around the castle from that day forward.

Another version.....

...."Some powerful and boastful baron decided to build a castle at the place which was known as a meeting ground of mountain fairies. The Fairies were shocked and offended so each night they would make a mess at the construction site and used spells to throw the rocks that were built into the walls all the way down to the valley below. This spiteful man would not give up however, he forced his labourers to drag the stones back up to the hill and continue building the castle. Neither the fairies would give up, they came back to their place each night to destroy the building again and again..... Finally, the merciless baron ordered a net to be placed around the building and the next night Ružica (Little Rose), a very beautiful and young fairy got caught in it. Her long hair ended up getting tangled in the net. (Sometimes it happens that the long hair of the fairies gets tangled in the thorny bushes, and since their magic originates from their hair,  they need help to untangle it. If you help a fairy to free herself she’ll reward you generously, with loyal friendship) But this cruel baron grabbed Ružica by her hair, dragged her out and threw her into the very foundations of the castle and walled her up  inside with bricks and mortar. The fairies never returned to this place of horror, leaving it desolate, so the baron continued his work undisturbed. This baron finally finished his damned castle, but in the moment when trumpets marked the end of his accomplishment in celebration and the castle was complete, a large stone fell from the highest tower and crushed him. He disappeared and even his name disappeared. Nobody remembers the baron, yet everyone remembers the name of Ružica. It is said that when it thunders during storms, one can hear the laughing of the fairies or the sound of battle from the knights tournament." See short video of Legends of Ružica

....Another version is that a merciless and arrogant baron was forcing his servants and workers to build a castle where there was no business of one being built, an out of the way place unsuited for a castle. The workers looked around and saw lands with easy access, plenty of available stone and trees for wood, but remembering the barons words, decided to start building on a hill where all there was to be found was blossoming red roses.


Fort Lovrijenac, often called "Dubrovnik's Gibraltar", is a fortress and theater located outside the western wall of the city of Dubrovnik in Croatia. Famous for its plays and importance in resisting Venetian rule, it overshadows the two entrances to the city, from the sea and by land. Early in the 11th century the Venetians attempted to build a fort on the same spot where Fort Lovrijenac currently stands. If they had succeeded, they would have kept Dubrovnik under their power, but the people of the city beat them to it. The "Chronicles of Ragusa" reveal how the fort was built within just three months time and from then on constantly reconstructed. When the Venetian ships arrived, full of materials for the construction of the fort, they were told to return to Venice. Of all the fortifications of Dubrovnik (possibly the most fortified town on the planet), Lovrijenac is the one which stands as a fortification in it's own right. While all the other fortresses are part of the City Wall system, Lovrijenac stands high on it's own rock, completely disconnected from the rest, yet it served a crucial role in the defense of the city. (Photo: dsphotographic.com)

Lovrijenac has a triangular shape with three terraces. The thickness of the walls facing the outside reach 12 m whereas the section of the walls facing the inside, the actual city, are only 60 cm thick.  The best reason today to visit Lovrijenac is the view back across the small bay which separates it from town of the City within the walls, with a particularly fine view of the Bokar Fortress.  Lovrijenac was defended with 10 large cannons, the largest being “Gušter” (the Lizard), marvelously carved and decorated. It never fired a single shot. It was designed and cast in 1537 by master founder Ivan Rabljanin. The Lizard is now lost at the bottom of the sea below Lovrijenac, as in the time when the Fortress was being disarmed by the Austrian troops in the 19th century, a rope holding the gun had broken off during hoisting and transport hence the gun fell to the depths. Although many of his works are still found in Dubrovnik, the cannon was never recovered.

(Just 600 meters away on the island of Lokrum, there is a legend that concerns none other than King Richard the Lionheart. Lokrum's first claim to fame was that it gave shelter to King Richard the Lionheart when shipwrecked on his return from the third Crusade. He was cast safely ashore on Lokrum and so pledged to build a church on the island, but at the plea of Dubrovnik citizens, the church was built on the nearby mainland instead, with part of the cost for the construction of the Romanesque cathedral being a votive gift of the English King).

(The Croatian version name of Dubrovnik comes from the very dense forest of oak trees called Dubrava that used to surround the old town in the middle ages. During the times of the medieval Croatian Kingdom, King Michael Krešimir II (reign 949-969) and King Stephen Držislav (reign 969–997) and their powerful Bans/Viceroys Pribina and Godemir, Croatian navy ships were known to have frequently sailed from and porting at Dubrovnik, as they were in conflict with the fleets of Saracens and Muslim Arabs attempting to cross and invade for women and children sex slaves and dancers from the Italian peninsula of Gargano in 968-969. Croatian King Stjepan I in 1050 made a land grant along the coast that extended the boundaries of Dubrovnik to Zaton, with economic and peace treaties following. Dubrovnik nobles and citizenry in the 13th-14th century defended against Serb attacks and later from a growing colonial Venetian presence in the Adriatic (but they paid tribute to the common Croato-Hungarian state during the reigns of Croatian Bans/Viceroys and other aristocratic high officer nobles...Frankopan, Hrvatinić, Kačić, Lacković, Kurjaković, Karlović, Gusić, Šubić, Zrinski et al), with the final fall of the Dubrovnik Republic came the arrival of Napoleon's army, then decades of Austrian rule, then once again part of the Croatian Triune Kingdom. After the unsuccessful 7 month Serb-Yugoslav forces Seige of Dubrovnik, today Dubrovnik and Lovrijenac are back once again as a center of Croatian and also European arts and culture as well, an interesting modern day and view to the past as a part of an independent and free Croatia)

Lovrijenac's use as a stage was a recent addition to the history of the fort, and Shakespeare's "Hamlet" has become a regular performance at the Dubrovačke ljetne igre (Dubrovnik Summer Festival). The popular HBO series "Game of Thrones" has also been including Lovrijenac Fortress as one of its filming locations.


Eltz Manor (Croatian: Dvorac Eltz) is a Baroque palace in the city of Vukovar, Croatia. The manor as it previously appeared, is depicted on the reverse of the Croatian 20 Kuna banknote, issued in 1993 and 2001. After four years of restorations, it was completely restored to its pre-war appearance in October 2011.

Postcard of Eltz Manor in the 19th century.

The initial construction of the palace began in 1749 until 1751, initially only the central part was built, and later the castle was refurbished several times. The German Eltz noble family acquired the castle and were affiliated with the Hungarian and Croatian nobility. The area around Vukovar was also administered as an important and strategic defensive location against any marauding Ottoman Turks and their Serbian allies attempting to infiltrate across the Danube river from the Sanjak of Smederevo. Being that the Croatian crown lands along with Hungary were also a part of the Habsburg Monarchy, after the the Treaty of Karlowitz in 1699 especially, the eastern frontier became a particularly important area to defend and administer. In 1781 the first major expansion of the castle was made, and the final appearance of the palace was finished in the early 20th century. The local estates were near the Croatian Military Frontier which was administered at the time by the Habsburg Monarchy, and was subject to many raids by Ottoman and Serbian troops.

Eltz Manor in 1991 after the combined Serb and Yugoslav Army attacks.

Image of Serb church patriarchs and military leaders soon after celebrating the destruction of the Vukovar City Museum and any other Non-Serb buildings and architecture. Their "Kissing of the Serb Bread" tradition represents holy Serbian crumbly cereal  made with the crushed powdery bones of Non-Serbs through the centuries instead of flour, Serbian water then binds the bread loaf to make it easier to kiss, adding flags and various water sprinkling and chants with the hopes that the Serb attacks become a holy Serb jihad where Non-Serb buildings and architecture must be destroyed and replaced with Serb church approved breaded buildings and motifs. 

During the Serbian and Yugoslav army aggression on Croatia on the 25th of August 1991, Eltz Castle became the very first of many buildings in Vukovar to be bombed from the air. Approximately 2,000 self-organized civilian defenders (the army of Croatia was still in an embryonic stage at that time) defended the city for 87 days against approximately 30,000 JNA/Serb troops supplemented with 110 vehicles and tanks and dozens of jet fighter aircraft. The city suffered extremely heavy damage during the siege and was eventually overrun by Serb church organized and supported irregulars/chetniks from Serbia. It is estimated that 2,000 defenders of Vukovar and civilians were killed, 800 went missing and 22,000 Croatian and other Non-Serb civilians were forced into exile. By the end of the war the castle, along with most of the city, was mostly completely destroyed, and the building interiors within the castle were demolished to the ground.

The Croatian Government and the Council of Europe Development Bank financed the reconstruction of the castle, which began in 2008 and lasted until October 2011. The 18th century palace is today the location of the Vukovar City Museum.

Interior of Eltz Manor today, more images at www.muih.hr.

In the period from 1991 to 1997 the Vukovar City Museum was operating in the Mimara Museum in Zagreb. Near the end of 1992 a collection was founded with the name Vukovar Museum in Exile which began the creation of a collection of donations by Croatian, and soon after also European, artists for the City of Vukovar. To this day that collection has gathered over 1400 pieces of modern Croatian and European art. This collection represented the beginning of the cultural restoration of Vukovar and it is displayed at the restored Castle Eltz today, along with other museum collections which are part of the permanent collection of the Vukovar City Museum. Now that it is renovated, the Castle Eltz complex represents a unique museum and gallery, science and multimedia centre, which preserves and presents cultural heritage as an element of national identity and the continuity of life in this city and area.


Long before the sixteenth century there was already a castle here, it was also a fortress and the seat of the ancient Varaždin District in 1209. The name of Varaždin was mentioned for the first time in 1181 in a document determining the borders between the estates owned by Kaptol (Zagreb) in Varaždinske Toplice and those owned by the Governor of Varaždin. The Varaždin tribal governors lived in an old fortress (castrum comitis), a Romanesque structure partly built of stone that may already have existed at the end of the eleventh century; and certainly existed at the beginning of the twelfth. Nothing remains of that first original fortress. The medieval-renaissance-baroque historic nucleus and the Old Town of Varaždin has features that are remarkable even in comparison with other sites in the greater European setting, and it is an exceptional location in its own country. The old town Varaždin became the economic and military centre of northern Croatia, and the town was structured defensively around the old fortress.

The old and preserved grid of streets and squares is lined with noble baroque palaces and smaller buildings used as dwellings and it is crowned with an interesting layer of medieval-renaissance-baroque set of buildings of the Old Town (the Castle) located on the north-west corner of the town center. The baroque seal of this urban entity rests on the town parish church of St. Nicholas and three independent sites holding the Franciscan church, the Jesuit church and the church of St. Ursula with their monasteries in the center of the historic nucleus.

Its construction to as it appears today began back in the 14th century and lasted for over four centuries, as it was built and rebuilt several times in different architectural styles. The castle’s rounded towers and the moat filled with water were constructed in the 15th century. In the late 16th century the high walls with bastions were built. By the end of the sixteenth century Varaždin Castle had changed many owners, the most influential being Beatrice Frankopan, It was the first royal city in northern Croatia in 1209. Zagreb got the status in 1242, and Križevci in 1252. A bridge was built between the square tower and the northern walls in 1776, dividing the inner courtyard into two parts, and this more-or-less ended the construction of Varaždin Castle, which is today a Gothic-Renaissance-baroque structure. Since 1925 the Castle has housed the Varaždin Museum.


High above the city and behind the town of Hvar, Croatia, is perched Citadel, aka The Fortress. Built in the beginning of the 16th Century in the Venetian style, it was built at the place of the old one that stood for centuries and offered protection to populations who had taken refuge there during the Turkish invasion in 1571. It is a destination to visit to view not only for the objects from the Middle Ages, but older items from ancient times. Old cannons still guard the fortress and its massive walls speak of the protection it offered the village, with an eye to the town and the sea. Also known as the Citadel, it is a fantastic destination while in traveling in Croatia. The restored fortress overlooks Hvar Town on the island of Hvar and provides a nice view of the offshore string of Paklinski Islands. You can drive up to the fortress or climb up in a few minutes from the town center. There is an interesting tower made of gigantic stone blocks (shown as “Tor” on some maps) above the town of Jelsa.

In the early Middle Ages, Slavic Croats occupied the island. In the first half of the 7th century the Narentines took over the island. Venetian sailors saw the island while sailing towards the south and were threatened by the Narentine pirates from the island. In the 11th century the island joined the Kingdom of Croatia. In medieval times, the city of Hvar rose to importance as a major naval base for the Venetian Empire. After the Hvar Rebellion, in 1571 Hvar was sacked by the Turkish fleet and only the fortress saved the townspeople. Just as the town was being rebuilt, it suffered further damage in 1579 as lightning struck the gunpowder magazine in the fortress. Many of today's public buildings in Hvar date from the reconstruction following the explosion.

The tower is accessible in about 20 – 30 minutes via a marked trail ascending from a dirt road that runs from the village of Humac (on route 116) to the tunnel entrance. From the tower there is a breathtaking view of Brač Island to the north. A fortress on the same ridge about a kilometre to the east also is clearly visible. If you have binoculars you may be able to spot the naturist beaches on Jerolim and Stipanska islands off the coast. It was enlarged in 1557 by the Venetians and after more remodeling by the French in 1811, it was again restored in the 19th Century by the Austrians. In 1868, "The Hygienic Association of Hvar" was founded, to promote the development of tourist services. These days, one can find a café within its walls, to the delight of the visitors. With so much history, terraces and towers, as well as stunning views, the Fortress at Hvar, Croatia is a must-see.

Cultural and artistic events within the Hvar Summer Festival take place throughout the summer, from late June to late September. These events include classical music concerts performed by national and international artists, and performances by amateur groups from Hvar. Performances are given nearly every day in a number of venues around the town.


Valpovo Castle  (Hungarian:Valpó and in German as Walpowo) is a palace or castle in the small town of Valpovo, Croatia, near Osijek. Sometimes also called Prandu Castle because it was owned for a time by the noble Prandau-Normann family from the Baroque period. They planted 121 herbal plants over an area of 250,000 square meters and it makes Valpovo's park one of the most beautiful in the Slavonia region of Croatia. The palace was rebuilt a total of 7 times since the 18th century after attacks and damage by the Ottomans and their Serb allies crossing over the Drina and Danube rivers.

Located close to the banks of the Drava river (5 km), Valpovo was an ancient dwelling of many Croatian and some other feudal families through the centuries. Valpovo castle was created by building and upgrading older works, resulting in this unique, picturesque and valuable historical and architectural unit. The complex consists of the castle medieval towers, baroque side wings resting on medieval outer walls, the castle chapel, an inner courtyard and late Baroque classicist motifs at the front of the palace. The view of Valpovo castle that we see today was built upon the older works that are preserved by parts of external walls, foundations and the walls of a late Gothic chapel and round defence tower, which were built at the beginning of the 15th century.

It is surrounded by the 19th century partially buried medieval defensive moats that by the middle of the 19th century were filled with water and connected to the nearby river Karašica. The old brick bridge arched over the moat water to the main and only entrance to the palace complex. From the castle to the south spreads a spacious landscaped park. The whole of the Valpovo castle complex has a distinct historical and architectural value because of its stylistic stratification and unique combination of it's older medieval fortifications and the baroque castle.

In the 18th century a full theater, the first in the whole Slavonia region of Croatia, was built which was used for performances by members of noble families, guests and friends as well as traveling theater groups, as recorded by Osijek musicologist Franjo Kuhac after a visit to the castle. Today at the premises can be found the Valpovo museum which is home to a large library consisting of over 9000 items, including scores for music, instruments, books and other items and coats of arms of other  nearby Croatian nobles from those times. Since 1885 Valpovo castle has remained mostly unchanged, still having a total of 62 rooms and together with the inner courtyard an area of 4031 m2.


Medvedgrad (Croatian for bear-town or city of bears) is a medieval fortified town located on the south slopes of Medvednica mountain, approximately halfway from the Croatian capital Zagreb to the mountain top Sljeme. (in the Middle Ages the area was known for the large population of bears inhabiting the forests and mountains, hence the name). For defensive purposes it was built on a hill, Mali Plazur, that is a spur of the main ridge of the mountain that overlooks the city.

On a clear day the castle can be seen from far away, especially the high main tower. Below the main tower of the castle is Oltar Domovine (Altar of the Homeland) which is dedicated to the fallen Croatian soldiers and Croatian civilian victims during the Croatian War of Independence.

Drawing of Medvedgrad from the 16th century.

The fortress was constructed in the 13th century after the Mongol invasion of 1242 when the city of Zagreb was destroyed and burned to the ground. It was built by Philippe (de genere Türje), bishop of Zagreb, between 1249 and 1254; later it was owned by Bans of Sclavonia, who were Viceroys/Governors of that regional part of the medieval Croatian Kingdom crown lands, and later part of the Hungarian crown and Habsburg Monarchy. (In the earlier medieval Kingdom of Croatia, Dmitar (Demetrius) Zvonimir was the only notable person that ruled over the region of Slavonia with the specific title Ban/Viceroy from around 1070 until 1075 before he became King, there was at first a single Ban for all of the Kingdom of Croatia on behalf of the King, but later from 1225 the Slavonian domain got a separate Ban. It included parts of present-day Central Croatia, western Slavonia and parts of northern Bosnia and Herzegovina. From 1225, the title started being held by a separate dignitary from the title of the Ban of the united Croatia and Dalmatia and it existed until 1476, when it was joined again as the Ban of Croatia. The Triune Kingdom in Hungary-Croatia consisted of all 3 realms but which were all formed out of the preceding medieval Croatian Kingdom). Notable Croatian and Hungarian Latinist, humanist, poet, diplomat and Ban of Slavonia Janus Pannonius (Ivan Česmički) died in the Medvedgrad castle on March 27, 1472.

The last Medvedgrad owners and inhabitants were the Croatian Gregorijanec noble family in 1562, after the 1590 Neulengbach earthquake the fortress was heavily damaged and for the most part abandoned. It remained in ruins until recently when it was partly restored, nearby during the renovating work they discovered Bronze Age axes, as well as Gothic seals, ceramics, glass and weapons. Medvedgrad now offers a panoramic view of the city from an altitude of over 500 meters (1,600 ft) as well as housing a museum and a restaurant. Annual events take place there and it is even used as a film festival venue, a local brewery is also named after and produces Medvedgrad beer.


Maruševec Castle is an over 400 year old romantic neo-gothic castle located in the Maruševec municpality within Varaždin County, Croatia, and dates back to 1547. In the 19th century it was described as being a square, lowland fortress with entrenchments, four circular towers and one square one, and entered by crossing a wooden bridge.

The noble Baltazar Vragović coat of arms on the castle.

In 1618 the official viceban Baltazar Vragović of the noble family Vragović, (entitled in 1351 by King Ljudevit I), restored and enlarged the castle. This is recorded in the inscription and family arms on the first floor of the western wall of the old castle. The Vragović family had obtained and occupied the castle and from 1514 had the right to pronounce the death sentence on serfs. In 1716 they were given a baronetcy but the last member of the family, Franjo Adam, had no male heir and nominated Krsto Črnkovački, the then Deputy Ban and captain of the Ban's bodyguard, to be his successor. However, upon his death a year later in fighting against the Turks on the Zrin, Maruševec Castle was owned by a succession of noble families from the Pasztory family, the Kanotay family to the Patačić family.

The Patačić's remained in possession until 1817, but no heir was apparent. Throughout the mid 19th century, again the castle was under numerous hands until it was bought in 1873 from Baron Simbschen by the Prussian Count Arthur Schlippenbach whose wife, Luisa, was from the Drache de Wartenberg family. He enlarged the castle as it stands today and refurbished it with decor of the period in 1877.

In 1883 Maruševec and Čalinec were bought by Oskar de Pongratz. He reconstructed the garden and made some minor alterations to the building. He placed a new entrance door in the south wall above which are the Pongratz arms, and built new steps, still there today. Above the staircases he placed large tapestries showing hunting scenes and the work of Monnaccelli from Rome. This work was completed in 1901 as recorded in a side entrance on the north-west wall. Today it is a common venue for tourists, and an often used place for various cultural events.


Feštetić Castle (Croatian: Dvorac Feštetić or Kaštel Feštetić) is a castle in Pribislavec, a village first mentioned in 1367 of about 3000 and next to the town of Čakovec, northern Croatia.

The castle was built in the 16th century and owned by the members of the Zrinski family (count Adam Zrinski) untill the end of the 17th century. The name of the castle comes from the Croatian-Hungarian Feštetić family, dating from the times after the Croatian crown entered union with Hungary and during the Austria-Hungary Habsburg crown, they possessed it from 1791 until 1923.

Before its reconstruction in 1870, the castle was surrounded by a park and a lovely garden with a chapel in it. The reconstruction gave it the neogothic look, especially marked by a tower (steeple) on the southeastern side, bay windows, garlands and door and window jambs.

Feštetić Castle in the 19th century.

Although having been devastated and ablazed several times during the Ottoman wars in Europe in the past centuries, this building structure, considered by many as the most beautiful and most romantic castle in Međimurje County, was always renewed. It now functions as a local primary school.


Tvrđa (Citadel) is the Old Town of the city of Osijek in Croatia. Like in numerous other towns and cities, their old town sections originally started out as defensive fortresses, and the later towns and cities grew around them and even within them. Even the capital city of Zagreb is known for it's 12th century old defensive walls and buildings that later grew into the city of Zagreb.

The old town Osijek Fortress is the best-preserved and largest ensemble of Baroque buildings in Croatia and consists of a Habsburg style star fort built on the right bank of the Drava river. Tvrđa has been described by the World Monuments Fund as "a unique example of an eighteenth-century baroque military, administrative and commercial urban center.

Although the city of Osijek was already mentioned in 1196, the star fortress and fort was constructed in the immediate vicinity of medieval Osijek after the defeat of the Ottoman forces and their Serb allies in 1687. When complete, it was the largest and most advanced Habsburg fortress in Croatia near the border with the Ottoman Empire, and the Croatian forces stationed there withstood and repelled numerous Ottoman attacks.

Consisting of eight bastions and featuring armories, depots, a garrison headquarters, military court, construction office, a garrison physician, guardhouse and officers' apartments, it also had a military hospital and seven barracks. The completed fort was entirely surrounded with walls and palisades and had four main gates at each side (north, south, east, west). Tvrđa had street lights by 1717 and was the site of the first public water supply in Croatia, opened in 1751.

Tvrđa's military importance decreased after the Berlin Congress of 1878 as a result of increasing political and military stability in the region. Two north-western bastions were demolished in the 1870s, making way for Ambrose's Park (Croatian: Ambrozijev perivoj). Construction of the Royal Grammar School started in 1881, and the Royal General Secondary School was completed in 1890. Tvrđa became a center of administrative, educational, cultural, and scholarly life in Osijek and the entire region. The first school in Osijek was organized at Tvrđa; the first scholarly curriculum was introduced in 1707, to be later expanded and renewed, and the first printing press started working in 1735

The fortress and old town fort sustained considerable damage during the Croatian War of Independence, which lasted from 1991 until 1995. Numerous Yugoslav army and Serb shells and bombing campaigns hit the city of Osijek directly killing already over 800 by June 1992, and the old baroque fortress also sustained structural damage from collapsing roofs, walls and floors. The attacks on Osijek and Tvrđa fortress were welcomed in the Pravoslavlje newspaper published by the Serbian Orthodox Church, which gave a blessing to the Serb volunteers arriving from Serbia and their attacks as part of a great Serb jihad "holy war" against Non-Serbs.

Weekend outdoor markets, fairs and other events occur regularly within the walls of the old town Osijek Tvrđa Fortress.

...as well as events during the annual Dani Prvog Hrvatskog Piva (Days of the First Croatian Beer) also take place within Tvrđa Fortress.

According to the 2001 census, within the Tvrđa city district, there are 10,277 inhabitants living in 3,310 households. The fort interior is now a centre of Osijek's nightlife. There are numerous bars and restaurants in Tvrđa, and it hosts many festivals and events throughout the year. The fortress also hosts the regional Museum of Slavonia, the largest general-type museum in Croatia. The former town museum and archives building today houses the State Directorate for Monument Protection, a department of the Croatian Ministry of Culture.


Frankopan Castle (Croatian: Frankopanski Kaštel) is a castle located on the southwest coast of the island Krk, in the ancient town of Krk, which is one of the oldest towns in the Adriatic, in Croatia.  Frankopan Castle on Kamplin was raised by Croatian noble family of Frankopan through several centuries and several generations. After the death of the first Duke Dujam, his sons continue to dominate over the island and the town of Krk. They left first architectural traces in the town of Krk. The oldest part of fortification is the square tower with the diocese, in which was located Frankopans courtroom. The inscription on the lunette over the entrance confirms that the building was raised in 1191, at the time of Bishop John and dukes Vitus and Bartula, with the help of the entire municipality.

The round tower on the northern corner of the castle with a transversely extended lower part, was built after the square, probably in the 13th century. It was restored around 1480, and again around 1600. On the tower there is bricked inscription Aureae Venetorum libertati with lions of St. Mark, which dates from 1500.

 This cylindrical tower has two floors and attic. On the ground floor once there were two doors, one open to the Kamplin, and the other toward the interior of the castle. On the eastern part of the castle, overlooking the sea there is still a square tower, while on the western part of the castle there was a sentry box for guard. Within the complex there was space for soldiers. It is not known precisely when, but the entire complex was completed before 1348.


Mirabela Castle (Croatian: Tvrđava Mirabela) is a Romanesque fortress built in the 12th century above the town of Omiš in the Split-Dalmatia county of  Croatia. Also called Peovica, it was a reliable hideout for the Omis pirates who used to retreat into the safety of the Cetina gorge. It's believed that the Kačić family, influential Croatian feudal lords of Omiš during the 12th and 13th centuries, built Mirabela in the early 1200s. The pirates used Mirabela as their lair during medieval times. The Omiš Dukes from the Kačić family: Malduk, Toljen, Pribislav and Osor were the masters of the Adriatic Sea, so mighty that the towns of Dubrovnik and Kotor were forced to make treaties with them on non-attacking, and in the 13th century even Venice appeared as a party in the pact with the Omiš pirates, making a commitment to pay tribute to ensure free sailing and trade. The pirates of Omiš didn't spare anyone who entered their waters, they used to attack traveling Pope's galleys and Greek bishops as well as the merchants of Venice, Dubrovnik, Split and Kotor. They were also known on a few occasions to have attacked the Crusaders on their way to the Holy Land, who were then forced to circumvent the Omiš area. The Venetians acquired Omiš only near the end of the 15th century to late 18th century and called the town Almissa, until Dalmatia and Omiš was rejoined as part of Habsburg Croatia again in the 19th century.

Mirabela fortress stands out among the significant monuments of Omiš, and it represents an important part of Croatian cultural heritage witnessing turbulent past times. The fortress played a significant defensive part in medieval times, the Omiš Pirates used it to guard the entire sea passage which was under their control. In 1537 during an attack by the Turks, the defenders of Omiš confused the attackers with their shouting and shots so much that the Turks overestimated the number of defenders and fled. Omiš Pirates ruled the Adriatic Sea for more then three centuries until the year 1444, when the coastal Dalmatia areas fell under the rule of the Venetian Republic which was the most powerful naval force of those times. That year marks the end of piracy on the Adriatic Sea as they were surrounded by the enemy and left completely alone, however the Pirates of Omiš still managed to defend themselves for decades afterwards.

During the last aggression on Croatia (420 years after various Turkish seiges) a group of monument lovers from Omiš, helped by schoolchildren and the young – without any modern technological devices succeeded to restore this neglected and damaged fortress. This was their contribution for the defending of heritage while at same time other Croatian cities protected by historical fortifications were resisting the attacks of modern artillery.


Drivenik Castle (Croatian: Gradina Drivenik) is a castle in the hinterland of Crikvenica and Novi Vinodolski, in the northern part of the Adriatic coast, western Croatia.  Drivenik is a small village in Primorsko-goranska županija county Croatia, close to Vinodolska dolina (Vine Valley). The castle of Drivenik is first mentioned in 1228 as one of the co-signers of the Vinodol Code. It sits in front of the mountain range called ‘Križišće’ opposite Tribaljsko polje (Tribalj field) on a high point named "Glavica" (181 m above sea level). Drivenik is best known for Drivenik Castle (Gradina Drivenik), which was built by Frankopan Dukes of the Croatian Frankopan noble family.

From the 13th century the castle was the seat of the district administration, and upon the arrival of the Frankopans, their deputy Dragoljub resided there in 1288. In the 16th century (1571 based on an inscription on its walls) the castle was expanded in size and in the style of Renaissance fortresses it received round towers on its corners. Then in 1577, the castle was ruled by the noble family Zrinski. Near the castle is the chapel of St. Stephen, built probably at the end of the 16th century with its tower containing three bells. The church has three building phases: Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque. The church originally contained a late Gothic period 'Pieta' sculpture and a Baroque period wood carved "Golden Altar".

 Today both are in the Museum of Art and Crafts in Zagreb. Within the village itself is St. Dujma Church. The Vinodolska dolina (Vine Valley) is popular for various outdoor pursuits like mountain biking, paragliding, free climbing and mountaineering and has become a tourist attraction. The lake near Drivenik is also popular for fishing and just 10km away is the coastal town of Crikvenica.


Castle Stara Sušica is a real historical jewel of the Gorski Kotar county of Croatia, parts of which are known as the Croatian Switzerland. There are more larger and historically important castles and manors, but the aesthetics and architectural design of this one I like, almost as if something out of a movie. It's located nearly 800 meters above sea level, within the virgin forest and diverse flora and fauna outside the city of Rijeka. The Croatian noble Frankopan family in the Middle Ages had a castle in Stara Sušica, which was a Frankopan ruled town located on the mountain slope, at the edge of coniferous forests.

For a time in the 19th century the castle was owned by Count Laval Nuget, and in 1890 it was bought by Rijeka merchants. The later restoration of the castle was in the romantic spirit of the time, according to various historical architectural forms.

Today, the castle Stara Sušica is owned by the City of Rijeka, which has enabled its local kindergarten and and elementary school children to to enjoy its charms on school trips. Capacity of the castle is 110 beds. The castle has 15 rooms that are located on the first two floors, along with toilets and showers. The castle also has a kitchen, dining room with seating for 60, a staff room and several social rooms with television and video.

The castle also includes a large playground and nearby is the ski resort with a ski lift during the winter season. During their stay there are a wide variety of projects and activities to do. (birthday parties, dance and music events, masked balls etc) It has become a favorite castle for the schoolchildren to explore and even get a feel for castle life centuries ago.


Castle Donji Miholjac (Croatian: Dvorac Donji Miholjac) is not an old Baroque and Gothic style castle or built on the scale of others found here or in other areas of northern Croatia, and it didn't have an historic part to play in Croatian history as others here, however it is a favorite of tourists and is part of the image and charm of the small town of Donji Miholjac, in the Osijek Baranja county. A short step back to the times that the Croatian lands were included within the Austro-Hungarian empire.

 Coat of arms at the Castle Donji Miholjac

In Donji Miholjac, a small town and municipality on the Drava river at the Croatian and Hungarian border, there is actually a complex of two castles. The older is a one-floor mansion and one of the first major buildings in Donji Miholjac, built in 1818 for the noble family Prandau. The Manor of Lower Miholjac was formed in 1831 and was owned by a Valpovo family Hilleprand von Prandau. It was built in late Baroque style and was the first building in the village covered with tiles. It has two lounges, fourteen rooms, and several kitchens and pantries. A greenhouse for tropical and winter crops was built in the park around the castle.

After the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph came to call on the counts of Prandau, the aristocratic family was rather embarrassed that their old Baroque era manor from 1818, once a local prize, didn’t quite come up to Imperial standards. It didn’t have enough bedrooms to host the Emperor’s party. The Count promised the Emperor if he returned there would be a castle of appropriate size to host the next visit. Construction of the new Gothic style castle was begun in 1903 and finished in 1914. The Austrian Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand a close friend, liked to come to hunt, with his last visit just three months before his assassination in Sarajevo in 1914.

The castle is sometimes also known as Dvorac Mailáth u Donjem Miholjcu. (Malaith Castle at Donji Miholjac) because it was built for the Mailáth family. (aka; Majláth, Májlát, Majlát, Maylád and Majáth) The Mailaths were a noble family in Hungary who previously held estates and titles in Transylvania, modern day Romania. In the 16th century a Duke Mailáth was given a fortress by Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand I and assigned to be an army captain there, but the Ottoman Turk armies captured him and imprisoned him in Constantinople for 10 years where he died. According to records the Mailáth family then appeared in Croatia in the 18th century.

All the rooms were covered with oakwood panels. Servant rooms were located in the loft. Castle possessed its own source of electric energy, a water supply system and central heating with a combination of tile stoves and open fireplaces. Shortly after the proclamation of the Serbian dictatorship and massacre of the Montenegrins, (aka Klanje Crnogoraca/Slaughter of the Montenegrins) in 1930 the castle and the estates were sold to the Jewish Schlesinger family until they left the new already crumbling and despotic Yugoslav kingdom. Donji Miholjac is located northwest of Osijek (Osijek Tvrđa Fortress) five miles from the border with Hungary and about thirty minutes from Virovitica  (Pejačević Castle)  Today the castle is the seat of the Donji Miholjac municipality government.


Lužnica Castle is a baroque manor located in the settlement of Lužnica and just 20 kilometers west of Zagreb. Built in 1781 it was originally the home of Croatian noble families and is set on an 8 acre park with lush vegetation, a lake with gazebos and woodland walks with promenades. These days it is used mostly for ceremonial functions, educational seminars, workshops and conferences. (photo: darkoantolkovic.deviantart.com)

Today it is in the hands of the nuns of Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul who were first founded in 1633 as the Servants to the Sick & Poor, once known as the Gray Sisters - from their habit colors. The mansion is of a formal symetrical design with turreted corners and was originally the home of successive Croatian noble families until being acquired by the sisters. Many of the rooms of the mid-18th Century mansion retain their original wood paneling, crests and decorative tile heaters common to baronial manors of central Europe. The castle is also filled with some stunning art of classic style, furniture as well as a very unique and a very modern altar in the chapel.

Lodging accommodations for the public is available at the Castle Luznica. The guesthouse on the park grounds, which shares part of a modern dormatory structure has 53 single rooms available, 5 which can be used as twin, all with bathrooms and Internet connection. Meals are served in the manor house dining room including a Vegetarian menu. A large conference hall in the manor’s basement can accommodate up to 150 people with a refreshment room. The park offers ample opportunity for woodland walks surrounded by pines and flowers and some neighbouring rustic farms. If one is on a religious tour of Croatia, Lužnica is not far from Marija Bistrica. As a project of the Croatian Ministry of Culture, the castle had a six-year restoration, which was completed in 2007. During the renovation the roof was replaced and cracks were repaired, thus preventing further deterioration. As far as the interior of the castle, most of the rooms were renovated to their original design.

Image gallery: www.milosrdnice.hr

The Lužnica Manor is about 8 kilometers from the Slovenian border and can be reached by car or by public transportation, though the bus and train stations are about a 15-20 minute walk. Zagreb airport is about 45 minutes by car. Guided tours of Lužnica manor are available on Sundays and by special request. On other days it is also possible by calling ahead. The castle on Sundays has guided tours offered at 4 pm. Many historical reeneactments from the era and costumed cultural events also take place at the castle and surrounding grounds, most importantly the visitors will be transported back in time to the lives of Croatian nobles and aristocracy and daily life in the 18th century.


Sokolac Castle (Croatian: Gradina Sokolac) is a castle in Brinje, Croatia. It is named after the Croatian word for hawk (sokol), which appears on the town's coat of arms. It dates back to medieval times, while the town was held by the noble Frankopan and Gorjanski families. The castle was part of an important medieval fortified city held by Frankopan family. Sokolac Castle was an extremely grand building, dominated by the powerful perpendiculars of the entry tower, and the Chapel of the Holy Trinity. The entry into the burg was through a square, three-storey tower, the façades of which were relieved with lesenes linked at the top with blind arcades, making it a unique specimen in the whole of Central Europe.

Image: www.peteranthonygroup.com

After the restoration of Sokolac Castle, a permanent exhibition was opened in the substructure of the chapel in 2007. The exhibition presents concise information on Sokolac and the role of the princes of Krk in Croatia's history. Stone fragments from Sokolac, reliefs, casts of the coats of arms of the Frankopans, and Gothic sculptures of the Pietà and Madonna with Child are also on display. Sokolac Castle, a protected protected heritage site and one of the finest medieval monuments in Croatia, was first mentioned in the 14th century. Brinje was the seat of the princes of Krk (the Frankopans); it also hosted many important figures such as King Sigismund (1412), King Eric VII of Denmark (1424), and other famous personalities of that time.

Next to the castle, the Frankopans built a town with narrow streets, surrounded by ramparts in the form of an irregular hexagon, fortified by four semi-circular towers and a rounded pentagonal bastion. The town gate was in a square, three-floor tower. Opposite the tower, the eastern side of the rectangular courtyard was enclosed by the imposing presence of the castle’s Gothic Holy Trinity Chapel (late 14th century), one of the most beautiful late Gothic religious buildings in Croatia.  In the 16th century, the former castle was adapted into a fortress that was used in the struggle against the Turks. In the 17th century, a new floor was laid in the chapel and tall, narrow mannerist altars were installed instead of Gothic wing altars. Gothic statues were incorporated into the new altars.


Čakovec Castle or Zrinski Castle (Croatian: Čakovečka utvrda or Stari grad Zrinskih) is a castle in Čakovec, northern Croatia. The castle is located in Zrinski Park, not far from the city's central square. It was built in the 13th century and was later owned by the House of Lacković, the Counts of Celje as well as the Counts of Ernušt, Counts of Zrinski, Feštetić and others.

The castle is the biggest fortification in Međimurje County. It was the scene of the Zrinski-Frankopan conspiracy, a significant event in the history of Croatia. The castle's main palace is now the site of the Međimurje Museum, the biggest museum in the county, and its atrium is also used as an outdoor theatre during the summer months.

Čakovec Castle, also known as Zrinski Castle and Old Town of the Zrinskis, has been renovated numerous times over the centuries, like many castles in Croatia. Following an earthquake in 1738, much of the castle was rebuilt in a baroque style. Since 1954, the castle has housed the Museum of Medimurje Čakovec.

On display, you’ll find portraits of the Zrinski family along with archeological, ethnographic, and cultural collections. If you’d rather spend your time outside, take a relaxing stroll through the the surrounding park, where, for centuries, a moat circled the castle. While wandering, you might catch a glimpse of the Zrinski Guards, (Zrinska Garda) a historical military unit dressed in characteristic red and black uniforms, who to this day evoke their glorious past and strive to honor the memory of the Zrinski family.


Samobor Castle is now a ruin on the hill Tepec in town Samobor in Croatia.  It lies only a 10 minute walk from the city centre, there are still visible remains of the moat, the massive entrance and most of the walls are still standing. The first fort on this site, on a hill above the intersection of the then important routes in the northwestern corner of the Sava valley above the medieval market town Samobor, was erected by supporters of the Czech king Ottokar II of Bohemia between 1260-1264, who was at that time in a war with the Hungarian king. Croatian-Hungarian forces of knez of Okić near Samobor soon retook the castle and the duke/knez of Okić was granted the city of Samobor and also the privilege to collect taxes.

It was a stone fortress built on solid rock - in an irregular and indented layout, which consists three parts, of which the central core -is the oldest. In the southeastern part of the core is the high guard tower (today in ruins), the only remaining original part of Ottokar castle. With this tower lies a semicircular tower with a small gothic chapel of st. Ana from the third decade of 16th century. In the third decade of the 16th century began the castle reshaping and gradually it expanded the core to the north - an elongated trapezoidal courtyard surrounded by a strong defensive wall with a pentagonal tower on the battery ends. Through the 17th and 18th century the castle was upgraded and reconstructed.

In its upper part forms a courtyard whose facades with two sides articulated porches with Tuscan columns, and the interior is rich with motifs, so that the castle lost its fortification function and gradually turned into a countryside baroque styled castle. Last residents left the castle at the end of the 18th century and then began the decline of the stone building. Today the Samobor Castle is just a picturesque ruin on the hill above the small creek Vugrinščak in Samobor. Annually medieval battles are reconstructed that took place. There is a project to renovate the Samobor Castle, but just rehabilitation of the chapel walls has been done so far, during restoration stones found in the ruined parts are reused, along with cement and slaked lime.


A pleasant town on the main road from Varaždin (see Varazdin Baroque City) and the railroad between the capital of Zagreb and the eastern city of Osijek (see Osijek on the Drava), in the province of Slavonia.  Našice (pronounced Na-shi-tse) suffered significant damage during the Croatian “Homeland War” of 1991, but has done a lot to recover. In the last few years the town, first mentioned in historic records as early as 1229, has won awards for the best city park, best museum and a few other bests. Pejačević Castle was first built in 1811, then renovated in 1864 with an added more ornate faux-Baroque façade, additional decoration and two corner towers during the grand époque age of European nobility. One of the curiosities of the house is that it had no kitchen, meals were prepared in the servants house and carried to the mansion by an electrical rail dumbwaiter through an underground tunnel. Most of the rooms of the mansion are taken up today by the local Ethnographic and Historical Museum of Našice, with displays of historic periods from prehistoric up to the Second World War. The life of the nobility is represented by the remaining photos and mementos of the Pejacevic family.

The Pejačević family moved around a bit with one branch of the family purchasing the large estate around  Našice in 1734. The family produced some important Croatian political figures, including the Croatian Ban  Ladislav Pejačević but the person most connected with the house is Croatia’s first woman composer, Dora Pejačević. She was born in Budapest in 1885, where her father Count Teodor Pejacevic, another Ban of Croatia, married the Hungarian Countess Lilla Vay de Vaya, a prominent pianist who started her daughter with early piano lessons.

 Dora Pejacevic, a child prodigy, began composing when she was 12 years old. She lived only a portion of her life in Nasice, studying in Zagreb and she died from childbirth complications in Munich in 1923 and is buried in the local cemetery.

The Pejačević family is an old Croatian noble family, during the remarkable period in history marked by the Ottoman war in the Kingdom of Croatia in the Union with Hungary and the Austro-Hungarian Empire respectivelyNotable members of the family were politicians, clerics, artists, senior military officers, bans (viceroys) of Croatia and other high state officials. They were very potent and influential in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country, and especially distinguished in the region of Slavonia. In German, the family name was sometimes rendered Pejacsevich, ie a simplified variant of the Hungarian spelling. The above private collection photograph of the castle is from 500px.com/Zeljko_DUBROVNIK


Sisak Fortress or "The Old Town" (Croatian: Stari Grad) is a 16th century triangular fortress of the Old Town of Sisak. It is well-preserved and was turned into the Native Museum, it is the main destination of every tourist. Construction of Sisak fortress, at the confluence of the Kupa and Sava rivers, started in 1544. and was financed by Zagreb Archdiocese. Its purpose was the defense from invading Ottoman forces. On 22nd June 1593, the field in front of the fortress became the scene of one of the most important battles in Croatian history.

The fortress is famous for the victory of the joint forces of Croats and Carniolans over the Turks in 1593, known as the Battle of Sisak. It was one of the early significant defeats of the up-to-then invincible Turkish army on European territory. In mid-June 1593, with an army of about 12000 men, Hasan Pasha reaches the fortress of Sisak and besieges it for the third time. At the same time, the Croatian army, 5000 men strong, assembled near Zagreb. The joint army of the Holy Roman Empire pounded the massed attackers with heavy artillery fire. The Croat defenders with the Habsburg reinforcement broke the Ottoman siege and repulsed the enemy back towards the Kupa river. Caught in the middle between two Christian army flanks, the attackers panicked and started a chaotic retreat. Disintegrating under the unending cannonade, the bulk of the army with all the commanders are said to have been slaughtered or drowned in the Kupa river.

 A 1593 German painting showing the Turkish armies preparing to advance on Sisak Fortress.

As the Battle of Sisak took place on Croatian territory and the main body of the Christian defenders consisted of Croatian troops, the victory has ever since played a major role in the history of Croatia. It was the decisive turning point in Christian-Muslim relations, an historic victory where a three times larger Turkish army was defeated and brought to an end 300 years of Ottoman attacks and Jihads.  News of the victory resounded throughout Europe because now the whole of Christian Europe was relieved of great immediate Muslim danger. These days programs take place planned by the Sisak City Museum, including re-enactments, festivals, concerts. Stari Grad has also become a restaurant.


The names of Grobnik and its representatives are mentioned in 1288 within one of the most significant legal documents of feudal Europe, the Law codex of Vinodol, that was composed in Glagolitic alphabet and written in Croatian language. During the 15th and 16th centuries, life in Town of Grobnik is characterized by the numerous Ottoman incursions. The town of Grobnik now came to be ruled by Zrinski family, actually the relatives of Frankopans. In 1671 then very rich Town of Grobnik was robed and turned over to Austrian-Hungarian chamber.

Grobnik Castle was built in 1255 and designed in the form of triangle, belted by walls, strengthened by towers and semi-towers, and additionally protected with another belt of walls. Fortifications were mainly constructed in a period from the 15th to 17th century. At the ground floor of south-western tower there is St. Helen chapel with a preserved renaissance portal.

Castle’s yard encloses a gothic well with carved crests of Frankopans and Counts of Krbava, dating from the 15th century. At the immediate proximity of Castle, one can find St Philip and Jacob parish church, that was first mentioned in 1105. Beneath the castle extends Grobnik Plain where in 1241 Croatians prevailed over Tartars during the Battle off Grobnik field, hence the subsequent Tartarian raids in the region are mentioned nowhere in the history.

Grobnik Castle is also a site of Homeland museum with ethnological collection and one of the most beautiful galleries in Primorsko-goranska County, namely Gallery of Contemporary Art. Since 1996 Grobnik Castle has became a seat of International Visual Arts Colony, with few hundred artworks, whose authors include the visual artists from Croatia, Italy, Slovenia, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia, Austria, Germany, France, Netherlands, Spain, China and Japan. In 1998 Grobnik Castle has also become a site of unique festival for young singers – Grobnik Scale Festival.

There’s a restaurant at the Castle’s ground floor. Grobnik Castle became a peculiar cultural centre of Grobnik Area and a site of big events with numerous programs including Croatian and international participants, especially during the summer and autumn. The Automotodrom Grobnik (Grobnik Race Track) is located nearby.


Frankopan Castle (Croatian: Frankopanski kaštel) is a Renaissance fortress in Ogulin in Karlovac County. Floor plan of the building is in the shape of an irregular rectangle, but by its content belongs to the Renaissance type castle. The town of Ogulin emerged around the castle, built by the Frankopan aristocratic family in the late 15th century. The exact time of the building of Ogulin fortress has not been determined, but it is known through documents of the noble, diplomat and warrior Bernardin Frankopan issued in the city of Modruš around 1500, that the newly built town Ogulin marked the border between Modruš and Vitunj, so the castle would have been the center of activities.

The castle was built near the low pass of the Dobra river in the center of Ogulin. Bernardin Frankopan ordered the construction of this castle, at that time he was one of the most powerful people in Croatia, nobility, military leader, diplomat and patron, as well as a member of the House of Frankopan. As a powerful and respected aristocrat, he was the bearer of the struggle for survival of the Croatian people in the areas threatened by the Turkish invasions.

Frankopan Castlel has played a major role in the development of the current Ogulin. Today the castle includes the Heritage Museum which was opened in 1967. There are several collections: archaeological, ethnographic, old weapons, the memorial room of Ivana Brlić Mažuranić, hiking and mountaineering, and an exhibition of the academic painter Stjepan Galetić who was born in Ogulin. 


Prozor Fortress (Croatian: Tvrđava Prozor or Gradina) is a medieval fortress situated in the continental part of Split-Dalmatia county, in inland Dalmatia, just above the town of Vrlika in Croatia.  It developed into a fortress in the 15th century, during the reign of the Croatian feudal lord Hrvoje Vukčić. Prozor Fortress sits prominently above the town of Vrlika. It was a chain link of nearby forts like fort Glavaš - Dinarić and Potravnik. The closest large towns are Sinj, Knin, and Drniš.  Prozor Fortress has an equally spectacular view of the Peruća Lake (Perućko jezero) and mountains Dinara and Kamešnica to the east and mountain Svilaja to the southwest. Prozor Fortress is made of stone like other fortresses in Dalmatia. It is partially restored, and entrance is free of charge.

The way up to Prozor Fortress starts at the Roman Catholic parish church in Vrlika. It takes a 1.5 kilometres (0.93 mi) car ride towards small village of Maovice, followed by a 25-minute walk along a dirt trail. Prozor Fortress was built on isolated rock, deatached from the craggy clif on the end of mountain Svilaja range of hills. The remains of the Prozor Fortress are the ruins of a spacious residential building, a water tank, stone walls and a chapel. Prozor Fortress is dominated by the tall keep or donjon, around which is an open court with houses and a chapel. The courtyard is defended by the lower ramparts and a round tower. A drawbridge once gave access to the keep. Today's condition of Prozor Fortress is poor compared to others, as the fortress is mostly ruined, although it has been slightly renovated over the years.

After the Slovenian and Croatian Declaration of Independence in the early 1990s, Vrlika was attacked and held by the illegal and unrecognized criminal eniity so-called Republic of Serb Krajina for four years. (Consisting of armed Serb irregulars, ultra-nationalist chetniks and other paramilitaries from Serbia, who then initiated ethnic cleansing and killing sprees and numerous attacks on other free areas) During Operation Storm the Croatian Army pushed the Serb forces and extremist paramilitaries out in August 1995 to allow the people to return. The large Adriatic islands of BračHvar and Vis also lie within Split Dalmatia County, and there is no shortage of alluring castles in those places either.


This hilltop Erdut castle and fortress remains presents an interesting case and worth mentioning. There are other larger Croatian castles and fortresses in better condition located in eastern Croatia, but this one particularly harkens to the times that the crown of Croatia was in union with the crown of Hungary and under the Habsburgs during late middle ages. Times when there was a common interest, goals and cooperation between the Croatian and Hungarian crowns and lands and the various noble families as well, most notably during the Ottoman wars in Europe. (the House of Zrinski being a notable example) Thirty-five kilometers east of the city Osijek and found among other Croatian strongholds and fortresses are the ruins of Erdut Castle. 

Located in the Osijek-Baranja county of eastern Croatia, about 20 km north of Vukovar and 25 km east of Osijek, is an area famous for it's wines, wine cellars and other gastronomical offers, and also the remains of Erdut castle. Rising 70 meters above and overlooking the Danube river near the town of Erdut. Built in the 14th century and first mentioned as Ardud, (also Erdut, Erdod, Edewd and Erdung in German), the surrounding area below the hilltop is completely flat, so it’s easy to see why nobles built the castle on this spot – it provided an excellent view of any marauding hordes invading from the east and the whole of the Danube river. 

Documents from the 15th century in Titel provost state that it was a Bánffy family owned estate, and then it was mentioned as owned by the Erdődy family, dated 1552 and 1687 between the Turkish incursions. 

The castle was damaged in July 1991, during the Croatian War of Independence, by an artillery attack launched by the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA), but fortunately it missed it's mark several times. In the aftermath of the attack, Croatian authorities sent a list of Croatia's cultural monuments marked with the protective sign of the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict to the Yugoslav Defence Ministry and all JNA headquarters. 

However, soon afterwards the whole eastern Slavonia region of Croatia was overrun by the Yugoslav Army and Serb paramilitaries supported and encouraged by the Serb church crossing over from Serbia. The battle for Erdut quickly ended that summer as the entire Croatian population was expelled or killed along with other minorities including Czechs, Germans, Hungarians, Ruthenians, Ukrainians and any other minorities in acts of ethnic cleansing. Their homes were soon occupied by other Serbs crossing over from Serbia. Many buildings and homes were destroyed afterwards, including other Croatian cultural and historical monuments. However, recently there have been joint Croatian and Hungarian projects to promote education as well as nature conservation efforts in the larger Baranja border region which is shared by Croatia and Hungary. this includes of course conservation of this castle.


The easternmost settlement in Croatia, the small Slavonian town Ilok, is a place of rich history and cultural heritage. The monumental remains of medieval Ilok fortress, among others, is witness of this. Apart from sumptuous and quality construction, in accordance to contemporary European artistic streams, it also reveals facts about its owners. The most notable of them was Nicholas Iločki, of the Croatian noble House of Ilok after whom the town of Ilok is rightfully called a Royal Town. It is located on a hummock just above the right coast of the river Danube, and this excellent strategic position is a reason of it's great importance through the Middle Ages. The surrounding area below the hilltop is the Danube river and flat, so it’s easy to see why Croatian nobles built on this spot – it provided an excellent view of any marauding hordes invading from the east. 

The easternmost settlement in Croatia about 20 km east of the city of Vukovar, is the small Slavonian town Ilok, a place of rich history and cultural heritage. The monumental remains of medieval Ilok fortress, among others, is witness of this. Apart from sumptuous and quality construction, in accordance to contemporary European artistic streams, it also reveals facts about its owners. The most notable of them was Nicholas Iločki, of the Croatian noble House of Ilok after whom the town of Ilok is rightfully called a Royal Town. It is located on a hummock just above the right coast of the river Danube, and this excellent strategic position is a reason of it's great importance through the Middle Ages. The surrounding area below the hilltop is the Danube river and flat, so it’s easy to see why Croatian nobles built on this spot – it provided an excellent view of any marauding hordes invading from the east.

Nikola Iločki (1410-1477), with his significance, position in the medieval society, and the fact that he was Ban/Viceroy of Croatia-Slavonia-Dalmatia and Ban of Macsó, Voivode of Transylvania and nominal King of Bosnia from 1471 until his death....was a key individual in the development of Ilok in the middle of the 15th century. Hence, Ilok was made a capital of a kingdom, and the palace – a king’s court. Accordingly, Fortress Ilok was neither a settlement nor a burg, but a fortified royal residence with palace, court’s chapel, parish church, Franciscan monastery, old burg, an economic center and strategic military position.

The settlement of citizens – (Latin: civitas) was located outside the king’s fortification, and was fortified separately. The town’s wall complex is even today the largest fortified assembly in continental Croatia, with total length of 1350 meters. The walls are intersected by smaller circular and rectangular towers, set on arrow range from one another.

The entrance system was itself very advance, comprising of a barbacan with two doors, above which there were distinctive turrets. In front of the entrance there was another even smaller fortification which was used as a platform for a drawbridge. After the death of Nikola. his son Lovro Iločki continued ruling from IIlok, and even added Ban of Belgrade (1511 – 1513), member of the Royal Chamber Council (around 1516) and royal judge (1517 – 1524) to his official titles.

View of Ilok Fortress in 1697.

Locals proudly boast that wines from Ilok have been at the English Court since the 19th century and were served at the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. The Old Cellar from Ilok, which is unique in its architectural and technological features, is one of the rare cellars of its kind in Europe. It produces Welsh Riesling, Pinot Blanc, Chardonnay, Rhone Riesling and Traminer. Archaeological excavations, new sites, restoration and conservation works are a common sight in the old town. This location is a part of the project of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia called "Restructuring, research and restoration of the site Vukovar – Vučedol – Ilok".  Ilok will try to be included in the list of towns and monuments of special value protected and promoted by UNESCO. 

A few short videos introducing just some Croatian castles, fortress and manors through the centuries.