Arboretums, castles and mansions of Zagorje
To understand why Hrvatsko Zagorje has so many attractive places we must look back into history. Do not worry; this will not be a scientific expose, but a short story.
On a relatively small territory of Hrvatsko Zagorje, some 2.500 km2 with about 340.000 inhabitants, we can find more than 270 protected buildings and monuments. Among them, 1/3 are castles and mansions.
The Roman army built the first line of towns and fortresses in Zagorje The fortresses laid along the fields and hills and formed the line which was used later by the Franks, the Slavs, the Avars tribes. Much later, in 18th and 19th century fortresses were losing their primary purpose of being military forts and became somebody’s homes.
Veliki Tabor, a shining example of a late medieval architecture in Croatia, today protected by UNESCO, was a home of Ratkay family; than Trakoscan, breathtaking castle in neo.Gothic-Baroque-Classicist style was a home of Drašković family. Orsic grad was renovated in 18th century in Baroque style, built in Gornja Stubica was a home of Orsic family. The Old Town Varazdin, was a home of the Zrinski family; it was renovated in 16th century in Early Renaissance style. Luznica was home of the Rauch family and today is used by the Sisters of Mercy. They open this caste to public every Sunday and on other days if requested. You are welcome to visit it.
Some castles did not survive the merciless times of wars and neglect, however some did. Among them there are few we recommend to visit because of fantastic parks and avenues around them. The arboretums in Opeka (near Vinica town) and Marusevac (a three-story caste, today used by the Adventists) are wonderful examples of landscaping and planting domestic and exotic trees. Beside Cornel, Haw, Lilac, Black Elderberry or Spruce trees you can enjoy in exotic plants like the Tulip Tree, White Pine, Algerian Fir, Sequoia, Chinese Magnolia and many more.
Maybe a Queen or Princess would choose the Klenovnik castle to be her home; the most wonderful place in Zagorje, at least to some of us. Klenovnik is today hospital, but you can see its exterior and take a walk in the park around it. Placed on top of a hill, it dominates the Ivanec area. The foundations and the first fortress were built in 1244 by the Hungarian king Bela IV. Later, unlike other castles in the area, Klenovnik was upgraded is a tree-story castle, surrounded by a park and a forest. In 1616 the Draskovic family rebuilt the castle in early baroque style. In the year 1927 Klenovnik became a sanatorium and has remained to be used as hospital until today.
Hrvatsko Zagorje has about 50 parks and arboretums and half of them are protected as natural monuments.