Town like a museum
It can not be precisely determined when the first settlement on location of today’s Samobor appeared as no prehistoric finds have yet been identified. However some artefacts have been found scattered around the hills surrounding the town, on Stražnik, Vrhovčak and Gradišće like: stone axes, tableware, fractions of weapons and tools. There are many different localities with artefacts from the Copper, Bronze and Iron Ages. From the period of a Celtic tribe Taurisk – 3rd to 1st centuries BC – important is the discovery of silver coins the so called ‘Samobor coins’ found in the vicinity of Okić. Most probably the mint was situated nearby. The most important monument from the ancient Roman period – 1st and 2nd centuries – is a burial ground near Budinjak on Žumberak with sixty graves from the period of early Emperors.
In the 11th and 12th centuries the market place of Samobor was situated along the road and Teutonian borderline, near the fortress of Okić to which it actually belonged to up until the year 1242. That year King Bela IV. Croatian-Hungarian king conferred the privileges of a free royal market-place on Samobor. Towards the end of the 13th century began the construction of fortified town, today’s Stari grad (Old town) above the present day Samobor. The town was abandoned and neglected somewhere at the end of the 18th century.
In the 14th century copper mines were opened in the village of Rude, what directly contributed to the flourishing of crafts and metal processing trade. The Franciscans first came to Samobor in the 16th century. A great 1797 fire devoured most of the houses in Samobor. The town was rebuilt and the majority of houses from the city core date from that time. Between 1809 and 1813 Samobor was a cantonal seat of Napoleon’s Illyrian Provinces.
It is from this period that recipes for the preparation of bermet (type of liqueur) and Muštarda (grape mustard) – unique and famous Samobor specialities originate.
Soon Samobor got the City Hall, glass factory (1839), public library (1843), sulphur water spa – today’s Šmidhen (1868), its first newspapers, entertaining and instructive newsletter Ljubica (1879), Society for embellishment of Samobor predecessors of today’s Tourist Organisation (1886), and narrow-gauge railway which linked Samobor with Zagreb between 1901 and 1979 the year of its regretful abolishment – a very popular ‘samoborček’ .
There are so many places and monuments to see in Samobor. The whole town is in fact like one big museum. On Tepec hill, easily reached on foot, lies the Old town Samobor. It is now in ruins. Only the walls have still remained. It was built around 1270 by the supporters of the Czech king Otokar. Only the defence tower has survived to the present day from the oldest parts. In the 16th and throughout the centuries to follow the town was reconstructed and fully developed, what contributed to its castles resemblance approach that of Baroque. On many occasions, it changed owners as well. Many noble families owned it: Counts of Celj, The Frankopan family, Tržački, Tahi, Erdödy, Auersperg, Kulmer, Kiepach and Montecuccoli families. Finally in 1902 the Municipality bought it from the Montecuccolis. Early as the end of the 18th century, when the landlords abandoned it, the life slowly started to die there. Inside the city walls there are ruins of the Gothic chapel of St. Ana. The city offers a delightful view of Samobor and its environs.
Important sacral buildings can be seen in the city centre. The parish church of St. Anastasia is mentioned in 1334, and today’s church was built between 1671 and 1675. It was built to resemble the Jesuit church of St. Catherine in Zagreb with early Baroque and Mannerist features.