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Meet Varaždin

THE CHARMING CITY OF CULTURE AND THE CROATIAN CAPITAL OF THE BAROQUE

The city of Varaždin is one of those cities that I have heard about so many times, but it always somehow eluded me, it was out of the way. Who knows how long it would have been like that if I hadn’t gone on an organized trip a couple of years ago because of one tourist event. Upon entering the city, it reminded me a lot of my hometown Osijek. Even though they have quite similar architectural styles, they still differ, so immediately after a short ‘sniffing’ the streets of Varaždin, the feeling of similarity was lost and I was ready to embrace Varaždin, as it is, unique, interesting and beautiful.

In the categorization of destinations, I placed it under Međimurje because I had to decide on one of the regions on whose borders, it is located: Međimurje, Zagorje, Steiermark and Upper Podravina.

LOCATION: The city of Varaždin is located in the northwestern part of Croatia on the right bank of the river Drava.

MY EXPERIENCES – WHAT I VISITED, DID AND TASTED IN VARAŽDIN

Guided sightseeing
The Varaždin City Museum
Cabaret in the Croatian National Theater
Entomological collection ``World of insects``
Local gastronomy
Varaždin Cathedral
Making ``klipich``
Exhibition Culture of Clothing 18.-20. st
Varaždin travel document in my name

“The main square of Varaždin”

“The Old Town”

CHECK OUT VARAŽDIN FUN FACTS, BLASTS FROM THE PAST, THINGS I HAVE LEARNED AND I WANT TO SHARE WITH YOU

FASHION HERITAGE: FROM BAROQUE, ROCOCO, SECESSION TO THE PRESENT DAY

One of the things I especially enjoyed during my short stay in Varaždin was the Cultural-Historical Department Permanent Exhibition of the Varaždin City Museum entitled CULTURE OF DRESSING FROM THE 18TH TO THE MIDDLE OF THE 20TH CENTURY. I totally went crazy looking at dresses, hats, fans, handbags, gloves, umbrellas and shoes from that time. The exhibition includes approximately 150 items of clothing and footwear, fashion accessories, jewellery, photographs and paintings. Just when I was thinking of regretting that all this is no longer in fashion, I realized how tight the waists of women were then, so I admitted to myself that this fashion is not for me after all 🙂

Varaždin has been home to the Varteks textile factory for more than a hundred years. While wandering the streets of Varaždin, I noticed several boutiques with very good clothes on display, at a very reasonable price. I remember exactly how the thought went through my head then that it would be worthwhile to come to Varaždin at least once a year and do good shopping 😀

OLD TOWN – CASTLE AND FORTRESS

At the first visit to Varaždin, the first encounter with Varaždin’s fortified castle really leaves you breathless. At least it left me. Walking through the city streets and squares, I had no idea that I would, let alone when I would run into it until at one point it just appeared! I’m in love with castles, so I was especially impressed at first glance. I toured it from the inside, but also from the outside, enjoying the walk along the Strossmayer promenade that passes around it, but also the beautiful view from it to the city. The Old Town, ie Varaždin, was founded in the Middle Ages, it was first mentioned in the 12th century, and at the very beginning of the 13th century, it received the charter of a free royal city. The Old Town was created at the intersection of roads and over time changed owners and appearance under their influence. The old town was continuously repaired, perfected and changed its purpose. The architectural foundation was built in the Gothic style, while in the 16th century it underwent significant alterations. At that time, the Ottomans were in danger, and Varaždin was considered the “gateway to Styria” and needed to be converted into a strong fortress. It is rebuilt into Wasserburg, a castle-fortress surrounded by an earthen embankment and a double belt of water. Defence walls are being built, which in some places are more than two meters thick. For these works, the Croatian Ban Ungand brought Italian builders. In the second half of the 16th century, an entrance watchtower was built. From the end of that century to the beginning of the 20th, the Old Town was owned by the Erdody family. After the danger from the Ottomans ceased, they rearranged it to serve the role of the castle more. In 1925, it was bought by the city of Varaždin, where the City Museum of the City of Varaždin now operates.

THE MEANING OF THE ‘BAN’ TITLE – Ban is one of the oldest noble titles in Croatia, dating back to the early Middle Ages. Ban was the head of the administration, army and judiciary, and he ruled in the name of the king.

 

VARAŽDIN AND BAROQUE, WHAT IS THE SECRET?

The old town of Varaždin, whose beauty we can enjoy walking its streets today, was created by the emergence of houses and churches around the Old Town thanks to merchants and craftsmen who began to settle in the 16th century. The oldest baroque building in Varaždin is the church of St. Mary built in the mid-17th century. Thanks to the fact that it became the capital of Ban Croatia in the middle of the 18th century, various nobles and gentlemen moved to Varaždin. Due to the prestige and due to their own comfort, representative baroque palaces are beginning to emerge. One of the largest Baroque buildings in Croatia is the County Palace, the construction of which was approved by the ruler Maria Theresa. In addition to the Baroque, Varaždin is adorned with buildings built in the style of Rococo, Classicism and Art Nouveau.

Since 1971, the “Festival of Varaždin Baroque Evenings” has been held in September, with the participation of Croatian and European experts from the world of music and culture. This festival is extremely important for the preservation of Croatian musical baroque heritage.

ARCHITECTURAL HERITAGE: EXCEPT BAROQUE THERE ARE ROCOCO, CLASSICISM AND SECESSION STYLES TOO

There are so many preserved palaces, buildings, villas and churches that alternate with their style and beauty that I later searched the website of the Tourist Board of Varaždin for buildings with their photos to find out additional information. Even though I was on a city tour with a tour guide, it’s hard to remember and experience everything at first. I also realized that I missed a lot of beautiful buildings in Varaždin. Fans of beautiful architecture could play in Varaždin in search of every building they find here. I know that I will when I come to Varaždin next time.

HISTORY NEWS

THE CAPITAL OF CROATIA – In 1756, during the Habsburg Monarchy, Maria Theresa, the holder of the titles of the queen, empress and ruler, declared Varaždin the administrative centre of the then Banska Hrvatska. Thus, for the next twenty years, the Ban, the Provincial Government and the Ban’s Table ruled in Varaždin.

THE GREAT FIRE – The story of the great fire that took place in Varaždin in 1776 has several versions. All versions have in common that it was caused by a clumsy boy, accordingly Jakob Verček, a 14-year-old boy, a serf from the neighbouring village of Sračinac. Due to the wind, the fire spread quickly and lasted for four days. Of the six hundred or so houses, as many as half were destroyed in the fire. Because of this fire, the Croatian Royal Council moved to Zagreb, and Varaždin lost the title of the capital city.

THE FIRST VOLUNTARY FIRE SOCIETY in Croatia, but also in Eastern Europe, was founded in Varaždin in 1864. Unfortunately, during my visit to Varaždin, I did not have time to visit the Museum of the Croatian Fire Brigade, so I put it on the list of things I have to visit the next time I come to Varaždin.

 

VARAŽDIN CITY NOTARY AND VARAŽDIN TRAVEL DOCUMENT

The Varaždin city notary delighted me, especially with its appearance, personality and, to a lesser extent, the Varaždin currency of good emotions, VARAŽDINKA 🙂 Behind the character of the city notary lies Mr. Krunoslav Čolo, a master of calligraphy and an expert on coats of arms. Thanks to him and his beautiful handwriting, I brought home an authentic souvenir – VARAŽDIN TRAVEL DOCUMENT written in my name. The point was to collect five stamps from various city locations in this document and get two free lunches in one of them

ONE OF THREE – THE STATUE OF GREGORY OF NIN BY WORLD FAMOUS SCULPTOR IVAN MEŠTROVIĆ

Meštrović’s first made statue of Gregory of Nin is located in Varaždin. It was originally set up in Split in 1929, and in 1931 it was moved to Varaždin.
During the installation of the second statue of Grgur Ninski in Split, Ivan Meštrović said:
“Let Grgur Ninski be in the Croatian north as well as the one in the south – in Split, a visible proof of our successful struggle for the Church Slavonic language and the Croatian Glagolitic alphabet.”
The third statue is in Nin.
Gregory of Nin was a Croatian bishop and an ardent advocate of the Old Slavonic language and Glagolitic alphabet. He dined from 900 to 929 in Nin.

 

CROATIAN NATIONAL THEATER IN VARAŽDIN

Today’s theatre building was built in 1873 according to the project of the Viennese architect Hermann Helmer. Although he founded a company specializing in theatres and concert halls with another architect in Vienna, Helmer independently designed the Varaždin theatre, which was actually his first work in the profession. He later became Varaždin’s son-in-law because during the construction of the theatre he fell in love with Varaždin lady Filipina, with whom he married and had two daughters and two sons.

I was really lucky that during my first visit to Varaždin I had the opportunity to visit the theater and see the play. The play I watched was a cabaret with elements of the stand-up comedy “Kajbare” by singer-songwriter and chansonnier Mladen Medak Gaga. I had a great time and laughed a lot. Although I tried not to laugh too loudly, I’m not sure I succeeded 🙂

 

VARAŽDIN SCULPTURES AND OUTDOOR INSTALLATIONS

CRINOLINE OF LOVE sculpture is inspired by the love story of Ksaver Sandor Gjalski’s “Love of Lieutenant Milić”. The plot of the story is set in Varaždin at the beginning of the 19th century. Despite the tragic ending, it sends a message of unbreakable love and invites lovers to become co-authors of the sculpture and place the padlock as a symbolic vow of love. The final seal vow is the act of throwing the key of the locked padlock into the well in the Old Town Castle, where Lieutenant Milić saw on one of the windows his deceased love, Anastasia. The author of the sculpture is the academic painter Ivan Mesek.

ANĐELINJAK is an installation by Željko Prstec located in the centre of the city. Unfortunately, during my visit, the angels were temporarily removed due to facade work. Also, due to various engagements, I was unable to adjust to the working hours of the Museum of Angels. Although the mischievous little angels from Varaždin eluded me that way, I could still feel them following me from some of the baroque churches and buildings I passed. I promised myself that I would return to Varaždin, “the city where the angels sleep” and start looking for them all over again.

INTERACTIVE MUSIC BENCH is another artistic and creative installation of the public space of the centre of Varaždin, which is also great fun. It consists of five surfaces that produce sound and light when seated on them.

VARAŽDIN CATHEDRAL

The Cathedral in Varaždin is an early Baroque single-nave church built in the 1840s. It is dedicated to the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and is the central part of the Jesuit complex consisting of a gymnasium, the dormitory and the church itself. Jesuit Juraj Matota is credited with building the cathedral. Not only did he come up with the idea of building it, but he was also the construction manager, which was financed by Count Gašpar Drašković.

The sacristy and bell tower were built and completed in the second half of the 17th, while the main altar was completed in the first half of the 18th century. The dimensions of the altar are 11m x 14 m so that it covers the entire surface of the sanctuary. The whole altar is wooden. All six side chapels once had their altars, and today only three have been preserved. The interior of the cathedral is adorned with a pulpit with Rococo features.

On the front of the church, in the central niche, there is a statue of Mary from the 17th century, and below it the coat of arms of the Drašković family.

 

“Watchtower with a Drawbridge

“Miljenko Stančić Square”

Things left to do next time: – Watch the ceremonial change of the City Guard Purgari, visit the rest of museums and come to Špancirfest event

VARAŽDIN IN A NUTSHELL

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Food & Drink Varaždin gastronomy is exactly to my taste mainly because I had the choice to try various poultry specialities, which is usually not the case. Somehow I got the impression that the refined palates of meat lovers in Croatia despise poultry, so mostly pork, veal and lamb dishes predominate, ie meat that I don't eat, so I came to my own terms in Varaždin 🙂 All of you who rolled your eyes here, don't worry, except poultry, in the menu, you will find specialities made from game, but also other meat. As I am not really a meat lover, I enjoyed side dishes and dishes such as grinders, Varaždin 'klipich' and 'zlevanka' and I couldn't resist the cakes in the Countess Marica Café. It was a special pleasure for me to drink coffee on Miljenko Stančić Square with a view of the Old Town.
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Accommodation In Varaždin you can choose accommodation in one of the 3 * or 4 * hotels, boarding houses, luxury apartments, hostels or holiday homes. Most of the accommodation is located in the city centre so a lot can be toured on foot.
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Sights The sacral buildings worth visiting in Varaždin consist of eleven churches, three monasteries and a cathedral. Varaždin cemetery is an example of park architecture and is also a natural monument. Hatter, blacksmith, beekeeper, shoemaker and potter present their skills and products on the Square of Traditional Crafts. Varaždin City Hall is one of the oldest in Europe. Numerous city palaces, buildings, villas and houses in the historic centre of the city such as the post office, the National Bank, the railway station, the Drašković Palace, Sermage, Erdödy and others.
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Excursions In Varaždin itself, you can spend the whole day sightseeing and recreate along the way because you will have enough reasons to walk. If walking is not attractive enough for you, rent a bike. For the rest of the trip, more of the active type such as SUP, rafting or tandem flying, you will have to expand your horizons and head towards the Varaždin area. Personally, I would like to enjoy the beauties of nature and visit a dozen castles of the oldest county in Croatia.

GREETINGS FROM VARAŽDIN

Photo is emotion captured in time. See and feel the world you look at.

SURROUNDINGS OF THE CITY. THE VARAŽDIN COUNTY.

I will definitely return to Varaždin again and dedicate a little more to its surroundings. Since I am a big fan of castles, castles will be my priority, the first on the list is definitely the one in Trakošćan. Varaždin County also has the oldest thermal spa in Croatia, in the center of which are the excavations of the Roman thermal baths. The water in Varaždinske Toplice springs from a depth of approximately 1800 m. Cultural heritage is firmly intertwined with the natural. As a great example I would cite Vindija Cave. The finds found in it indicate that it was used both for living and as a hiding place for about 40,000 years before Christ until the 9th century later.

Miraculously!!!

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