Journey into Zagorje: Veliki Tabor Castle, Kumrovec Village & Lunch
If one has a problem while driving up and down the hills and on serpentines, one should consider taking a medication before the trip.
Tour Participation Requirements
Special Medical Restriction
Winding country roads, beautiful rolling green hills, clusters of rustic houses with red-tile roofs and handsome gardens. No, it's not the French countryside. It's Zagorje – the delightful rural district just north of Zagreb where some of Croatia's rich and powerful kept their castles over the centuries.
This region is also where ex-Yugoslavia strongman Josip Broz Tito was born and raised. You can actually check out his boyhood house and the school he attended when you visit charming Kumrovec. It's quite a contrast from the 32 official residences he acquired later in life, not counting his elaborate underground bunkers.
But centuries earlier, it wasn't Cold War weapons from above that Central Europeans worried about. It was the cold steel of scimitar-wielding Ottomans, large hordes of whom were rampaging through the region in the early 1500s in a push to expand their territory, religion, and way of life.
Against a threat like that, nothing short of a massive, impenetrable rampart would help you sleep well at night. That's why, when you visit Veliki Tabor castle, you'll see that most of its earliest elements were dedicated to stopping blade-carrying intruders from getting in – as opposed to the later barrel-shaped bastions, useful for defending the compound from attack by firearms. Those were never much of a threat once the Ottoman incursions died down.
Yet it's those classic round, pointy-roofed towers that today give Veliki Tabor such a great castle-like look. Well, that and the fact that the whole shebang is stacked 1,100 feet up on top of a mountain ridge visible from miles away.
It's a powerful image, and has become one of the iconic images of picturesque Zagorje.
Freddy and Veronika
Count Herman II of Celje, member of a medieval power family, owned Veliki Tabor in the 15th century. His son Fridrik fell in love with Veronika, a lovely but poor maiden from the village below. Dad disapproved (big surprise), so the young couple eloped and moved far into the forest. Dad's private soldiers eventually found Veronika, and imprisoned her in the castle on charges of witchcraft. At trial, she was found guilty only of being in love. But the moment the judges left, Herman took the law into his own hands. He had her drowned in a giant vat of water, then buried in the castle wall – where, according to legend, she wails still on long winter nights.
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