Fortified towns – citadels


On the slopes of mountains Žumberačka gora, Samoborsko gorje and Medvednica (or Zagrebačka gora, as it is called), a number of fortified towns were built through the Middle Ages, from which only ruins have remained today. The breakthrough of Tatars into Croatia in 1241 particularly speeded up the construction of a large number of massively built towns – burgs which are naturally inclined towards terrains with a more difficult access, at strategically important locations determined by layouts.

Many stories and legends arose about old towns and citadels, many things were guessed about their construction, owners, secrets they hide, so that these historical locations still attract visitors today as bella vistas and places for rest in nature and resolving the riddles of the past.

Old town of Samobor – Samobor

Built at the intersection of roads in the northwestern corner of the Sava Valley arout 1260. Its early rulers were of the Babonić line, followed by the Hungarian-Croatian king, and, with the beginning of the 15th ct., it was given to the princes of Celje. By the beginning of the 16th ct., it entered in the possession of the Frankopans. Its last owners were princes Erdödy and Kulmeri. The burg was built from stone on solid rock. The oldest structure of the burg is the defense tower from the 13th ct., a slender and well-built structure, perhaps even the best quality structure of the whole complex with: palace, tower with chapel, two battery towers, yard, shoring up with a pentagonal bulwark and the palace called the “Ajtić’s House”. Today this picturesque ruin burg-castle above Samobor takes part in the beauty of the city of Samobor by its position above the main square and roofs of town houses as a memento of the past.

Old town of Okić – Podgrađe Podokićko, Samobor

With the specific position, it is situated on the top of a steep hill. Okić was first mentioned in 1193, and the first known owner of Okić was Jaroslav, which was mentioned by a written document in 1217. In the 14th ct., Okić consisted of two separate parts of the burg and a chapel. On burg walls, several phases of construction are discerned, a quality Romanesque building is evident. From stone details, windows, a stairway and firing slots can be discerned.

Tušćak – Kravljak, Samobor

Located on the top of a long and narrow cliff of eastern slopes of mountain Žumberačka gora near the Kravljak village. In the 12th ct., a border between Slavonia (Hungary) and Germany passed over the top of Žumberačka gora, and the burg of Tušćak was under the jurisdiction of the German part and counts Spanheim. By its position on a long cliff, the burg has the task of keeping the border safe. It is a good example of the so-called axial burg, regardless of the fact that it consisted of only two masonry structures.

Lipovec – Mali Lipovec, Samobor

LipovecSituated on the top of a cone-like hill, to the west of Samobor, not far from the Šoić’s house and the peak called Oštrc. In 1251, the son of Jaroslav Okićki received the permit to construct the Lipovec castrum from king Bela IV. After that, it was bought by the Babonić princes, so that, in 1349, its master was Nikola Seč, all until Martin Frankopan. It was built on solid rock with very steep sides, which made a possible approach of attackers more difficult. The burg of Lipovec was probably abandoned during the 17th ct., because it was not fit for comfortable stay or for defense needs anymore.

Old town of Žumberak – Kekići, Žumberak

Situated on a plateau (501 m) above two tributaries of Kupčina, the access is also possible by a hiking trail across Žumberak. The Žumberak town was mentioned in historical documents under the name of “Sichelberg” in the list of papal tithes from 1296. Its owners changed several times, all until the Turkish times and settling of Uskoci in the 16th ct., when it was abandoned and a new Žumberak town was built. The ground plan of “Sichelberg” is rather regular, i.e. it is close to the ground plan of Romanesque citadels. The new Žumberak town was built for defense from Turkish attacks, and it was also the seat of Uskoci captains. In the 18th ct., it suffered from fire, and since then, only ruins remained from it, currently mostly covered with soil. The complex is situated outside of the Žumberak settlement in the valley between two hills. A particularity is the whole it makes with the church of St. Nicholas (the current one was built in 1654), together with the parish house and the Baroque “post of shame” from the 17th ct.

Zelingrad – Zelinska gora, Sveti Ivan Zelina

On the mountain Zelinska gora, in the close vicinity of the climbers’ lodging on Kladeščica, on a cliff next to a forest road, lies Zelingrad, a medieval town first mentioned in 1295, when Ivan, the son of the palatine Dionysius, donated the land to Pavao Nespeš and his brother’s son, Fabijan, for their faithful services. Through history, Zelingrad changed many owners, but the most important names which owned it are: members of Bičkele family, Zapolja family, Petar Palffy and Pavao Kerečeni. Since 1635, Zelingrad was first mentioned as a ruin. The complex of town elements was enclosed by a defense wall from which one round defense semi-tower projects to the north, on which the entrance semi-tower leans at the northwest. There is a firm polygonal building at the southwest, on which the southern defense wall leans, with a semi-tower at the south-east. The interior is divided in two parts: the northern or residential part, which consisted of two rooms, and the southern part, which consists of the internal yard. In recent years, it has been owned and managed by the Museum of Sveti Ivan Zelina.

More information: www.zelingrad.hr