Discover Croatian Zagorje
The Northwest of Croatia, separated from the Croatian capital by Mt. Medvednica from which Zagorje (“behind the mountain”) takes its name, is one of the few not fully discovered Croatian tourist pearls. The picturesque, hilly landscape, with unspoilt nature, boasts many cultural and natural attractions; the area is particularly famous for its excellent cuisine offering a variety of local specialities and fine wines.
We now know that in the late 19th century, Croatian Zagorje was inhabited by our Neanderthal ancestors some hundred thousand years ago. Krapina is considered one of the most important Neanderthal sites in Europe. The town also hosts an excellent museum dedicated to the Krapina Neanderthal. Since the interactive concept of the museum has received several awards, it is strongly recommended that you visit it.
The Middle Ages
Although the prehistoric and ancient history of Croatian Zagorje is quite rich, tourist attractions were more strongly influenced by the Middle Ages when most of the castles and mansions were built. The most famous are the appealing Trakošćan Castle, which is also an important Croatian protocol building, and Veliki Tabor Castle. The latter, built for the purposes of defence during the Turkish invasions in the 15th century, is considered one of the best preserved medieval castles in Croatia.
Many great men were born or lived in Croatian Zagorje in recent history. Near Klanjec, which is home to the gallery of the famous sculptor Antun Augustinčić, lived the author of the Croatian anthem, Antun Mihanović, who was also a frequent guest in the nearby Mihanović manor, which was named after him.
In Zelenjak near Kumrovec, a monument to the patriotic song “Lijepa naša” (“Our Beautiful”), wrote by Mihanović in 1835, was erected in 1935, while the song became the national anthem after the independence of Croatia. Another important man from the history of the former Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito, was born in Kumrovec, which also hosts an open air museum. There you can visit his birth house.
Pilgrimage and Thermal Centres
Croatian Zagorje is also home to the most famous Croatian pilgrimage centre, located in Marija Bistrica. The shrine and the Basilica of the Bistrica Mother of God are especially known for one of the most important relics –the statue of the Bistrica Mother of God – from the 15th century.
In addition to Tuheljske Toplice, Krapinske Toplice and Stubičke Toplice also boast thermal springs.
Cuisine & Craft
Croatian Zagorje is famous for its excellent cuisine and distinctive local specialities, such as Zagorje soup and Zagorski štrukli. The area is also known for its fine wines.
What is more, traditionally manufactured wooden toys, Lepoglava bobbin lace, and honey and gingerbread products from Zagorje are included on the UNESCO list.