To the east of Zagreb is the town of Samobor, established in the 13th century. The narrow cobble stone streets and the beautiful Trg Kralja Tomislava main square are great places to stroll and sightsee. Although the town has a long history, a fire in 1797 destroyed large sections and many buildings. Consequently most of the architecture is from the 1800s. The fortress ruins on Tepic Hill known as Stari Grad, date to the late 13th century. Samobor grew up at the base of the fortress.Today Samobor is a popular getaway destination for locals and travelers who enjoy hiking and good food. It is regarded as one of the best centers for Croatian gastronomy. There are also a few interesting sights in town, including the Gothic St Machael's Church (Sv Mihovil), the Church of St Anastasia, a Franciscan monastery, and the small Town Museum (Gradski Muzej). It is also possible to hike up to the Stari Grad ruins. For more extensive hiking there is also the nearby nature park of Zumberak i Samobor Gorje Prirodni Park.The popular Samobor Carnival has been held annually since the early 1800s and takes place in January and February.
Zumberak I Samobor Gorje Prirodni Park
Just outside of Samobor is the newly created Zumberak I Samobor Gorje Prirodni Park, established in 1999, in the Zumberak and Samobor mountains. The nature park has long been a popular hiking and walking area for Samobor locals. The park contains a number of interesting attractions to explore, including caves and river gorges. Encompassed within the hills of the Zumberak I Samobor Gorje Prirodni Park are a number of villages, many of which have a village church. Many of the churches are Greek Orthodox. Marked trails link the hamlets and run through beech and chestnuts forests and meadows.
The Trakoscan Castle is one of the most visited sites in this region. The Castle is well preserved and was built in the 12th of 13th Centuries, although the exact date is not known. The castle was acquired by the Draskovic family in the 16th Century, who lived in here until the early 1900s. During the latter half of the 1800s the castle was extensively renovated with beautiful results. The grounds were also landscaped at that time to include an artificial lake in a park like setting.The Trakoscan Castle still retains its look of a fortified castle, with high walls surrounding the building but does look quite modern compared to other castles in the area due to the renovations. The interior now houses a museum, with original furniture and pieces from the Draskovic family. These include portraits of the Draskovic family members which hang on the walls throughout the castle.The Trakoscan Castle is located 83km / 50mi northwest of Zagreb.
Marija Bistrica, Croatia
Marija Bistrica, in Zagorje, is the site of one of the largest pilgrimages in Croatia. The Marija Bistrica Church (Hodocasnicka Crkva Marije Bistricvke), also known as the Sanctuary of St Mary of the Snow (Sv Marija Snjezna) is home to a 16th Century, Gothic wooden statue known as the Black Madonna with Child. The story of the statue dates back to a Turkish invasion of Marija Bistrica in the 1500s, when the statue was hidden in the church, lost for decades, and "miraculously" rediscovered. The church which houses the statue is a combination of Romanesque Gothic and Baroque styles. A church has stood on this location since the 14th Century. In addition to the Black Madonna statue, the church also contains a collection of other valuable religious works of art.Marija Bistrica is on the northern slope of Mt Medvednica, just a short drive from Zagreb.
The beautiful Mirogoj Cemetery is located just a short drive north of Zagreb city center and is worth the trip. The cemetery was designed by Hermann Bollé, an architect who also designed many buildings in Zagreb. It was built in 1876 at the base of Mount Medvednica, and is still one of the most beautiful cemeteries in all of Europe.Approaching from the outside the cemetery looks like a fortress, with huge vine covered walls and a grand entrance which leads to the chapels and the Neo-Renaissance arcades, where the tombs of the most prominent families are found. The Mirogoj Cemetery is almost 7 acres with green space, trees, sculptures and ornate monuments.Buried here are some of the most famous Croatians, including the poet Petar Preradovic and politician Stjepan Radic. There are also sculptures by Ivan Mestrovic and Mihanovic.
Medvednica Nature Park
Mt Medvednica is just north of the city of Zagreb and is home to the Medvednica Nature Park, established in 1981. The park is popular with outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy the walking and hiking trails, ski trails, including ski lifts, and restaurant and accommodation facilities. A popular hike leads to the summit of Sljeme at 1033m / 3388ft. It can also be accessed by cable car. Veternica cave is also located on the mountain and has some evidence of prehistoric man.In the spring the Medvednica Nature Park comes alive with wildflowers, and in the autumn the fall colors turn the park a beautiful golden color. The park is at its busiest during summer Sundays. There are also picnic tables and benches for those who just want to come and relax.The park also includes a Zrinski Mine and the Veternica Cave.
Medvedgrad is a medieval town on the southern part of Mt Medvednica, on the western edge of Zagreb. The fortress was built in the middle of the 13th Century at the request of bishops Philip and Timothy of Zagreb and served to protect against Tartar invasions. Medvegrad was owned by a number of feudal lords but was hit by an earthquake in the 16th century and eventually became a ruin. Over the last 30 years the fortress has undergone extensive restoration and serves as a memorial to Croatian soldiers who fought in the Patriotic War. The site includes the St Philip and Jacob's Chapel to commemorate the founders. Today it is the most important monument in Zagreb from medieval times.
Castle, Veliki Tabor, Croatia
Veliki Tabor Castle is exactly what most people picture when they hear the word castle. Perched high upon a hill top, this medieval fortified castle comes complete with turrets and towers. Walls, which incorporate four towers, surround the main section of the castle The countryside around Veliki Tabor Castle is rolling hills and forest, and the castle is visible from a great distance.The Castle is now a museum displaying medieval weapons and tools, although nothing particularly noteworthy. The area around the Castle has good facilities for visitors, with restaurants and hotels. The Castle is only 57km / 34mi from Zagreb and can also be done easily as a day trip.