The City of Varaždin’s Historic Core
Of the historic necklace of Central European cities Varaždin today opens up to its guests as a rare urban pearl –a City of harmony and intimacy, a City whose specific urban identity discloses not only its constant beauty of old Baroque architecture but also the warmth of its cosy squares, streets and parks and, most of all, its preserved museum collections.
Varaždin has preserved until the present day some of the most significant features of the ‘Croatian Vienna’, being the City of Baroque, music and flowers – a comfortable resting place for its visitors.
A former residential castle, today it represents a well-preserved example of Romanticist park and residential architecture. Special value has to be attributed to the preserved original furbishing of the interior: the knights’ and hunters’ halls, the music salon, the Julijana Erdödy painting studio, the arms collection with exhibits dating from the 15th to 19th Centuries, the preserved custom made furniture for the redecorated castle and furniture from previous Centuries.
The tradition of lacemaking is an example of a culture that originated from the landscape to which it was attached. As a highlight of the Baroque tradition, lace adds a touch of festivity to everyday life.
The subtle net has developed its recognisable version and in 2009 and, as a part of Croatian lace tradition, it was listed on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
Every year in September, the traditional ‘International Lace Festival’ is held and this contributes to conservation of the lacemaking skill and expansion of the available tourist offerings.
‘AQUAE IASAE’ Roman Excavations – Varaždinske Toplice
What is today Varaždinske Toplice was, from the 1st to the 4th Centuries, an important Roman settlement known as Aquae Iasae, which was located next to the healing thermal water spring. The public area of the Roman settlement was located on the upper-most terrace of the Varaždinske Toplice (today a park), and the residential area was located on the terraces that run down to the foot of the hill, and at the very foot of the hill trades, crafts and a fair ground were located. The complex of the public Roman architecture comprises a bathing part, consisting of a building with pools, and the basilica. There is a forum with patios around the main thermal spring and a capitol with temples of Jupiter, Juno and Minerva.
Specific soil conditions around the thermal spring, i.e. gypsum layers, have supported preservation of Roman architecture, which makes this complex one of the best preserved locations in Croatia.
Thermal sulphur water that springs on the area of today’s park, with a temperature of 58oC, is extremely healing, and the discoveries so far have shown that the spring has been used for over 2000 years, from pre-history to the present.
The Pilgrimage Site of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ in Ludbreg
Throughout Croatia Ludbreg is famous as the pilgrimage site of the Holy Blood of Jesus. This pilgrimage site is linked to a miraculous event that happened in 1411 in the chapel of the Ludbreg manor. One day during that year a priest held a holy mass there. During the mass he had doubts about whether the bread and wine really turned into the body and blood of Christ after the priest expresses the words from the liturgy. When he reached the point of the Holy Mass, when the sacral bread is broken into three parts and one is put in the chalice, the noticed fresh blood in the chalice. Very excited he kept the blood from the chalice behind the altar and quickly finished the mass. For a while he kept this miracle a secret, but on his death bed, he handed the chalice with blood to be permanently preserved in the Parish Church of the Holy Trinity in Ludbreg. The Ludbreg pilgrimage site is unique in Croatia and is amongst one of rarest in the world that was created and acknowledged by charter (a ceremonial Letter from the Pope). The Pope in question was Leo X, who issued this document on 14th April 1513. Since then many people have been healed miraculously after praying in front of the relic. The Chapel of the Holy Cross, where the miracle occurred, is part of the Batthyany Castle. The chapel is covered in frescoes of the miraculous event when wine turned into the holy blood of Christ.
As part of the pilgrimage site there is also the Pilgrimage Site of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ that includes a votive chapel of the Croatian Parliament whose construction represented the fulfilment of the ancient vote from 1739 which, together with the stations of the way of cross, creates a unique, open air standing exhibition of Murano glass mosaics.
‘IOVIA’ Roman Excavations – Ludbreg
Ludbreg can be considered one of the oldest settlements in Croatia. This little Podravian Town developed on the crossroads of paths that led to the west and from the north to the south, and through this point all trade had to cross the passing on the River Bednja. The Illyrians and the Celts passed by, and the passing ‘witnessed’ the Tartars, Turks, and the regiments of Ban Jelačić. This is the area where the pre-historic medicine-men foretold future fortunes, Slavic pagan priests brought sacrifices and Roman wealthy men enjoyed the beauties of nature.
It was because the importance of these roads, whose directions had already been drawn in the 1st Millennium BC, that the Romans inhabited this area between AD 6 and 9 and erected the monumental building of IOVIA. Over time the building became surrounded by a settlement and local inhabitants worked to meet the needs of Roman soldiers. From the destruction of IOVIA in AD 4 during the Great Migration, and all the way to AD 7 there are very rare archaeological findings. More details on the development of the city are provided by Slavic motte-and bailey fortifications, which were surrounded by a ditch filled with water, and the earth dug out from the ditch served as the motte and was supported by wooden keep. Of the four motte-and-bailey fortifications that existed at the rime, one was the safest, located on the left bank of the Bednja River, hidden by the wood and away from the roads. This motte is the location of today’s town, whose foundations date back to 11th Century. On the ruins of IOVIA there was plenty of stones, so the rough walls of the Medieval Wasserburg were erected and the settlement grew in its vicinity. As new settlers removed the old fortress stone by stone Iovia disappeared. In its place Ludbreg – a settlement with organised a civil and church administration – was built.
At the time, Christianity was again spreading in these areas and it seems that the first Christian house of prayer was built at the same place where the Roman Catholic Church of the Holy Trinity is located today.