Croatia is well known as a land of thousand islands, but it is also a land of thousand castles. They range from simple, unassuming abodes to truly majestic residences. You can find medieval feudal fortified castles, castles and curiae in Northern Croatia built after the wars with the Ottomans in the 17th century, Renaissance summer houses and rural country-house castles in Southern Dalmatia, especially in the Dubrovnik area. It can be said that Croatian castles are a common part of the landscape of numerous areas of the country.
The Hrvatsko Zagorje region has the largest density of castles and curiae in Europe, most of which belong to the Baroque period, showing excellent craftsmanship in building and architecture.
The Trakošćan Castle
The best preserved castle in Croatia is the spectacular Trakošćan Castle. It is situated in the Zagorje region, in a lush forest and next to the lake bearing the same name. It was built in the end of the 13th century. After the Ottoman danger decreased, the castle slowly started decaying. Luckily its owners, the Drašković family, decided to renovate the building in the 19th century due to the spirit of romanticism and the awakened interest for the national and family heritage.
The castle museum boasts an extensive weapon exhibition, as well as the portrait gallery and the old furniture exhibition.
The Zrinski castle
The Zrinski castle is a medieval fortification in the middle of the town of Čakovec, in the Međimurje county. Nikola Zrinski, nobleman and general, and member of one of the great mid-European dynasties, wrested the territory from Hungary in 1546 and built a Renaissance residential palace inside the walls of a medieval fortress. The castle fortress held Međimurji against the turks but could not sustain the revolt for independence that the Zrinskis and the Frankopans fought against the Austria-Hungary empire. After the last Zrinski died, the castle was overrun by the force of the Vienna Imperial army. Throughout the 1700’s the castle was in the hand of the Czech counts but in 1738 an earthquake devastated the whole county and with it the castle. It was later rebuilt, this time in Baroque style.
The city of Čakovec and the castle returned to Croatian rule at the end of World War I. The castle has been turned into a museum and it is possible to visit.
The Dioš Castle
The Dioš castle lays on a hill of the same name, in the Bjelovar-Bilogora County. The feudal possessor, the noble by Alajoš Tükory and his wife Paula built it for their daughter Marija in 1904.
The owners did not allow the appearance of the castle to give the impression that it was a country-life villa. They wanted it to look like a lord’s house. The castle presents a luxuriant and elaborate architectural solutions. The rooms’ interiors and the outdoor elements make of it a beautiful and rich monument, especially the roof which presents an extremely sophisticated structure.
In 1995 the castle was returned to the Silesian monks. Every year in May, on the catholic holiday – a holiday of great importance for the monks – they carry out the procession that gathers a large number of believers and the curious.
The Maruševac castle
The Maruševac castle is situated in the Varaždin County, in a municipality of the same name. It was built around the XV century by the noble family Vragović, but over the course of the centuries it changed many owners. In 1945 it was expropriated from the Pongratz family, and recently it has been returned to them, who are now their final owners.
Today’s construction of the castle is a combination of Renaissance and neo-Gothic architecture. It has been enlarged and re-constructed several times. In early XX some intensive interior works were accomplished by its next owner, Dr. Oscar Pongratz. The castle is surrounded by a park and there is a small fountain behind it.
The bright yellow color of its facade gives it warmth and beauty.
The Miljana Castle
In the Krapina – Zagorje county there is another beauty of the Croatian castles – the Miljana Castle. It is the best preserved Croatian castle. It is located in the vicinity of the Sutla river, some ten kilometers from Kumrovec, famous for being the birthplace of marshal Josip Broz Tito.
The building of the castle lasted during three centuries, and was finished in the 16 century by the Rattkay family. It was in their possession until 1793, when the last member of the family died. After that, the castle changed many owners. In 1900 the Jäger family took possession of it, while in 1980 dr Franjo Kajfež bought it and by restoring the whole castle he gave it back its initial shine.
Today it is open to the public, prior announcement necessary.
The Lužnica castle
The Lužnica is an 18th century castle, located in the Zagreb County. It is a beautiful open type castle surrounded by a lake and a park, with a surrounding promenade.
The first owners of the castle were the noble Italian family Čikulini, who arrived in Croatia at the end of the 18th century. After the Čikulini, the ownership of the castle passed to the family of the baron Rauch, an important figure in Croatian history.
The castle was built under the influence of 18th century Austrian Baroque. It is a one-story baroque style castle with highlight to the central hall. It was in that central hall where all the socializing between the baron and the respectable gentlemen and high ranking society members of the domestic and foreign nobility took place. One very interesting fact about the hall is that it had separate balconies for men and women. The female balconies had a bulge because of the large crinolines that they were wearing.
Today the Lužnica baroque manor is run by the Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, and it’s primary role is to provide spiritual and educational programs for the surrounding communities.