Varazdin Tourist Attractions
Once the capital of Croatia, Varazdin is a beautiful city with a wealth of cultural and architectural treasures. The city boasts a baroque city center, with numerous museums and galleries. The cities landmark attraction is the 16th Century Stari Grad castle which houses the Town Museum. Varazdin is located 77km / 46mi northeast of Zagreb, making it possible to visit on a day trip from Zagreb.The city has a lengthy history, with reference to it as far back as late in the 12th century. Fires have twice ravaged Varazdin, once in 1446 and again in 1776, although the Baroque buildings which still stand were not affected.Croatia claims Varazdin to be one of the major tourist destinations in the north of the country. While this is true, many visitors use the town as a stopping point between Zagreb and Hungary, or visit on a day trip from Zagreb. The city holds enough interest to warrant a stop of its own and perhaps a day or two to explore.
Varazdinske Toplice are hot springs that have been in use since the 1st Century. The Romans built a settlement here around the healing waters of these sulphurous springs, making it the oldest spa in Croatia. Water at 58 degree Celciusis is channeled into indoor and outdoor pools, forming the basis of the health spa that has developed here. A variety of fitness programs and therapies are on offer. Varazdinske Toplice is in a largely isolated area of rolling hills. The town has a number of interesting buildings, some of which date back to the 16th Century. Many archeological treasures, related to the Roman settlement, remain. The area around the hot springs complex is an important archeological park in Croatia.Varazdinski Toplice is only 50km / 30mi north of Zagreb and is possible to visit on a day trip from the city.
The Entomological Museum (Entomoloski Odjel) in Varazdin has an interesting collection of butterflies and other bugs, with almost 4500 exhibits. This also includes insect nests and information on behaviour and reproduction of insects. A larger portion of the collection came from the museum founder, Franjo Koscec, who donated his personal collection. He was also instrumental in displaying the insects, designing the mountings himself. The museum was opened in 1954.Another reason to visit the Entomolgical Museum is to see the Herzer Palace (Dvor Herzer), which houses the collection. The baroque palace was built in the late 19th century. The museum is on the ground floor.
Croatian National Theatre
The Croatian National Theatre (Narodno Kazaliste) in Varazdin was built in 1873 by Viennese architect Hermann Helmer. Besides being the primary venue for performing arts in Varazdin, this neo-Renaissance style theatre is also internationally known, drawing crowds from all over Europe during the fall and winter season. The National Theatre offers a full season of musical and theatrical performances. In the fall Varazdin hosts a musical event known as Varazdin Baroque Evenings. Some of the concerts are held in the Croatian National Theatre and offers a great opportunity for visitors to experience the building.
Varazdin Castle and Civic Museum
Just a short walk from the city center is Varazdin's main attractions, the Castle and Civic Museum (Stari Grad i Gradski Muzej). The Castle dates to the 13th Century but was rebuilt by Italian architect Domenico dell'Allio, in the 1560, giving the castle most of its present day appearance. It was used as a fortress to guard against ottoman Turks. The castle is enclosed by a moat which is now dry.The Civic Museum in the Castle displays a variety of weapons, period furniture and glass wear, and other collections from particular epochs. Also on site is a café with outdoor tables during the summer months.
Church of St John the Baptist
The Franciscan Church of St John the Baptist (Sv Ivan Krstitelj) is a 1650s baroque style church with a Renaissance doorway and a high bell tower which can be seen from many points around the town. Statues of St Francis of Assisi and St Anthony of Padue mark the main entrance. A replica of Ivan Mestrovic's "Monument of Bishop Gregory of Nin" stands in front of the church.The interior of the Church of St John the Baptist has some surprisingly ornate features, including the gilded pulpit. Eight side chapels line the church.
Varazdin Cathedral of the Assumption
This former Jesuit church was designated Varazdin's Cathedral of the Assumption (Uznesenja Marijina) in 1997. The structure dates to the 17th Century. It is noted for its Baroque entrance and the Baroque interior which contains a gilded main altar with a painting of the "Assumption of the Virgin" in the middle. Next to the Cathedral is the former monastery and grammar school, now the residence of the Bishop.The Cathedral, which is said to have exceptional acoustics, is used as a venue during the Varazdin Baroque Evenings music festival, to host concerts.