Sitting on the southern flanks of Mount Medvednica and looking over the suburbs of Zagreb, Medvedgrad Castle is one of Croatia’s most important medieval fortresses. It was constructed in the mid-13th century to protect the growing city from invasion by the Tatars, who were warlike tribes under the rule of Mongolia in the Far East. The castle changed hands many times over the centuries, and by the mid-15th century was in the hands of the Counts of Celje, who terrorized the local area, plundering neighboring villages and towns. Following their downfall and a disastrous earthquake in 1590, the castle was abandoned and fell in to decay before being rediscovered in 1979 and slowly nursed back to life. Today the defense walls stand once more, encircling the carefully restored stone chapel of St Philip and St Jacob, the Great Palace, fortified towers and the Oltar Domovine (Homeland Altar) memorial to all the war dead of Croatia, made of stone from regions across the country and bearing an eternal flame. There are magical summer concerts at the castle in July and the last weekend in September sees an annual medieval pageant; a new visitor center is in the planning.
Nature Park Medvednica, Zagreb. Open Apr–May Sat–Sun 11am–7pm; May–Sept Tue–Sun 11am–7pm; Sept–Oct Tue–Sun 10am–6pm; Oct–Nov 8.30am–4pm. Admission 15 KN. By road there is a one-way circular route up to the castle; by public transport take bus no 128 to Lukšići and walk through forest to the castle.