Photo by Zoran Jelača

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Castles are not merely impressive structures with stunning views of the surroundings. They are also places where the past can come to life and where you can find out what life was like in the past. With their impressive architecture, rich history, discovered and undiscovered secrets and numerous legends, Croatian castles are sure to leave you breathless. They may give some people inspiration for books, movies and popular TV shows.

Once Upon a Time a Count Built a Beautiful Castle…

If you want a day straight out of a fairytale, then the Trakošćan Castle is your perfect choice. Located on a hill, surrounded by a beautiful forest and a lake, this 13th century castle is sure to bring out your inner romantic.  For a complete fairytale experience, take a horse drawn carriage ride through the surrounding area, and then have a look inside the castle and its knight armors, a valuable collection of Baroque furniture, hunting trophies and an impressive weapons collection. One of the legends says that the castle was named after the Drachenstein knights meaning “Dragonstone”… Hm, all Game of Thrones fans should give this some thought.

Be a Count or a Countess for a Day

You must have asked yourself at least once in your life what it would be like to live in a castle, sleep in it and feel like a count or a countess. Visit the Bežanec Castle and satisfy your curiosity. This beautiful 17th century castle and a luxury hotel located on a hill overlooking the small village of Valentinovo is an exceptionally popular place for weddings. Just like any other castle that takes good care of itself, it has its own legend – a friendly ghost that bestows married couples with the magic of eternal love. Since we know that the way to one’s heart is through the stomach, the exclusive restaurant within the Bežanec Castle is the place where all those who enjoy food and superb drinks need to go. Who knows, maybe they get a surprise visit from the ghost of homemade cuisine.

The Castle of the Sisters of Mercy

At first glance, the Lužnica Castle is perhaps one of the most unusual of all the castles we have mentioned. This is an 18th century castle that was owned by the Rauch family of counts a long time ago. Surrounded by a forest and a vast field, its façade is embellished with reliefs. So, what is so unusual here, you wonder? The castle is owned by nuns who had purchased it from the count family in 1925 and then turned it into a tourist attraction over a period of time. The castle is open to visitors, it has 60 rooms, a conference room, Wi-Fi, and in addition to religious events, it is used for conferences, workshops, programs for children and adults, camps, picnics… Seems like a great place to relax, doesn’t it?


If These Walls Could Talk…

The feudal town of Veliki Tabor is located on top of Hum Košnički and has been dominating the area of Hrvatsko Zagorje for centuries. It is one of the best preserved forts in the continental Croatia with a beautiful view of Hrvatsko Zagorje and a part of Slovenia.

In addition to the castle itself, there is also the legend of Veronika of Desinic, a gentle beauty with golden locks who fatally fell in love with the castle lord’s son and paid for that love with her life. Some say that you can hear Veronika’s sobs in Veliki Tabor even today.

A Treasure Hidden among Snakes

If you look in the direction of Medvednica, you are sure to see a large white fort outline on one of its hills. That is Medvedgrad, a 13th century Medieval Age fort that is famous for its tales and legends. One of its most famous legends is the one about the cruel and beautiful Black Queen, the owner of the castle, Barbara of Cilli. They say she tried to deceive the devil himself. However, he saw through her and turned her into a snake to punish her. The legend says that her subjects still slither around Medvednica keeping their lady’s treasure and waiting for a hero to kiss the snake keeper and give the Black Queen her original shape.

If There Was No Czech Woman, There Would Not Have Been a Castle

There is a story going around about this beautiful castle located near Varaždin that it was built by an unknown but wealthy Czech woman named Maruša, and that the castle was named after her – Maruševec. The castle was mentioned for the first time in 1547 and since then, it has been home to many noble families that have taken great care to maintain and upgrade it. The Pongratz family invested great efforts when they redesigned the garden within the castle with the assistance of a prominent Swedish landscape architect. Maruševec was ravaged and nearly destroyed during World War II. Even though it has never regained its original splendor, it is still magical enough for everyone to see.

How a Small Rooster Stopped the Turks

Imagine being under Turkish siege, hungry and shooting the only food you have, in this case, a rooster, out of a cannon. Sounds a little bonkers, doesn’t it? The Đurđevac Castle witnessed such an event. But, before we get to that, let’s go back to the castle. It was built in the 15th century on  a less than glamorous escarpment in the midst of a swamp. This is why it is classified as a water fort or a “Wasserburg”. However, as early as the 16th century, the castle, as a military fort, became the final line of defense against the Ottomans… This is where we go back to the peacock and the famous Peacock Legend that tells the tale of the guile of those who were defending the castle. If you are interested in the entire legend, stop by “Picokijada” in Đurđevac and find out all the details.

The 20 Kuna Castle

The legend says that a castle was so beautiful and glorious that Suleiman the Magnificent, a famous Turkish sultan, personally forbade its destruction. Its beauty did not go unnoticed by the designers of Croatian banknotes who used the motif of the Eltz Castle on the 20 kuna note. Therefore, if you participate in the “Millionaire” show and get asked what the castle on the 20 kuna note is, you can no longer make a mistake! However, in order to appear on a banknote, this castle had to be built first. Count Eltz was the most deserving person for this as he started to build it in 1749 on his Vukovar fiefdom. The Eltz Castle had been upgraded several times before it got its final appearance at the beginning of the 20th century and became the Vukovar City Museum in 1968.