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Castles And Fortresses Of Croatia Tour

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DAY 1 Zagreb Arrival at Zagreb Pleso Airport, transfer to hotel. Today's Zagreb has grown out of two medieval settlements that for centuries developed on neighboring hills. The first written mention of the city dates . .
Country: Croatia
City: Zagreb
Duration: 10 Day(s) - 9 Night(s)
Tour Category: Heritage Tours
Departure Date: Thu 01 Jan '99
Package Itinerary

DAY 1 – Zagreb

Arrival at Zagreb Pleso Airport, transfer to hotel.

Today's Zagreb has grown out of two medieval settlements that for centuries developed on neighboring hills. The first written mention of the city dates from 1094 when a diocese was founded on Kaptol, while in 1242, neighboring Gradec was proclaimed a free and royal city. Both the settlements were surrounded by high walls and towers, the remains of which are still preserved.

DAY 2 – Veliki Tabor, Trakošćan and Varaždin

The fort of Veliki Tabor is one of the most important cultural and historical monuments of secular architecture in continental Croatia, with a unique monumental and authentic fortification structure. Situated at the top of Mount Hum Košnički, at 333 meters above sea level, it has dominated the Zagorje area for over half a millennium, during which time the architecture has blended in with nature. Professional opinions regarding the fort construction dates vary.

Some believe that the oldest part of Veliki Tabor was built in the mid-15th century, while others believe that the construction of the oldest part of the fort began as early as around 1502. It is assumed that the palace was primarily a housing facility, but fortification elements are present, mostly for defense from cold steel, as opposed to the semi-circular Renaissance towers, used to defend the town from firearms, which is why their bases are slanted, expanded, and hard-packed with soil.

The Rattkay family ruled the fort the longest (1502-1793).

Trakošćan was built in the late 13th century in the northwestern Croatian defense system as a small observation fortress for monitoring the road from Ptuj to Bednja Valley. According to legend, Trakošćan was named after the Thracian fortress (ARX Thacorum) which allegedly existed in antiquity. Another preserved legend says it is named after the knight Drachenstein who in the early Middle Ages, ruled the region.

The toponym was first mentioned in written records in 1334 years. The Lords of the fort in the first centuries are not known, yet we know that the end of the 14th century. Owners Counts of Celje, which at the same time ruled with the entire Zagorje County. The family soon became extinct and Trakošćan shared the fate of their other towns and estates that were divided and changing owners.

In this division, Trakošćan such a unique property at first belonged to warlord Jan Vitovac and then to Ivanis Korvin who gave it to his deputy John Gyulay. The family kept the castle for three generations and became extinct in 1566, and the estate was taken over by the state. For services rendered King Maximilian gave the estate to Juraj Drašković (1525th-1587th), first personally, then as the family heritage. So finally in 1584 years, Trakošćan belongs to the Drašković family.

After the tour of Trakošćan, we will take you to Varaždin town.

Varaždinska feudal fortress, from ancient times called Old Town, is the most important historical building of Varaždin. It is the center of the aristocratic estate, owner, and legally separate from the free royal town of Varaždin. The present fort was built from the 14 to 19th centuries. The oldest part of the central tower.

The bench and canopy on its ground floor are the most beautiful examples of Gothic secular plastic in North Croatian. For the wars with the Turks in the 16th century, rebuilt in the Renaissance Wasserburg, a fortress – the castle is surrounded by high earthen walls with bastions, surrounded by a double belt of water.

Turnover in the second half of the 16th century carried Italian architects from around Coma headed by the emperor who built the fortress in the Slavonian frontier Domenico del Lalli. In the past had many important noble families, the Counts of Celje, John Ungnada, George of Brandenburg, and Croatian Ban Thomas Erdödyja and his successors. In 1925 became the property of the city of Varaždin.

DAY 3 – Medvedgrad, Ozalj and Trsat, Rijeka

Situated at the southern slope of Medvednica, a picturesque medieval castle Medvedgrad has been watching over Zagreb for eight centuries.

It was built in 1254, after the catastrophic invasion of Tartars who had raided and devastated this area, burning and razing to the ground the two settlements now included in Zagreb: the burgher’s Gradec and the bishop’s Kaptol. Although built to protect the burghers, the bishop, and the ecclesiastical treasure, castle Medvedgrad commanded such a perfect strategic site that it was perpetually in the center of proprietary and political turmoil.

In its history it changed many lords, either winning or losing it through marriage, purchase, sale, intrigue, or even plotting. Even though magnificently fortified and always ready for battle, Medvedgrad was never attacked. On the contrary, the lords of Medvedgrad often filled their coffers and storehouses by plundering neighboring villages, and sometimes even, either by political or armed force, reached after Zagreb itself.

The most notorious of them was the Counts of Celje, who in the mid-15th century terrorized the town to such an extent that many townspeople of Gradec had to flee from their homes. Even today the scary stories about the Countess Barbara of Celje – the ill-famed Black Queen – circulate about the villages at the foot of the mountain.

The Ozalj fortress, located on the stone cliff perched above the Kupa River, is one of the best-known fortifications of this type in Croatia. It is a very old stronghold (first mentioned in 1244) that has been converted into a castle.

The popularity of this castle is because this was the joint castle of the Croatian noble families of Frankopan and Zrinski. It was the scene of the unlucky Zrinski–Frankopan conspiracy, which significantly marked the history of Croatia. In the castle, there is a museum and a library.

Trsat is part of the city of Rijeka. It has a historic castle or fortress in a strategic location and several historic churches. The Croatian noble Prince Vuk Krsto Frankopan is buried in one of the churches. It was mentioned as a parochial center for the first time in 1288.

At this same site, there was a Liburnian observation post from prehistoric times, used for monitoring the roads leading from the hinterland to the coast. This location served well to the Romans to establish their defense system, the so-called Liburnian limes, whose starting point was the Tarsatica fortress town – which was situated at the site of today's Old City of Rijeka.

Trsat is a steep hill, 138 m high. It was strategically significant from the earliest times right up to the 17th century. Today it is a major Croatian Christian pilgrimage center and home to a statue of Pope John Paul II who came to Trsat as a Pilgrim in 2003.

DAY 4 – Nehaj and Plitvice Lakes, Zadar

The Nehaj Fortress is a fortress on the hill Nehaj in the town of Senj. The name Nehaj comes from the Croatian term Ne Hajati [ne xajati], which means Don't care. This name was given to the hill and the Fortress by the Uskoks, who built the on the top of this hill the Fortress for defensive purposes. They gave the hill and the Fortress such a name because they wanted to emphasize to the citizens of the town of Senj, and all of those who lived in the vicinity of the town of Senj that they should not care that someone will conquer this hill or the Fortress until they are there.

It was built by Croatian army general Ivan Lenković, a captain of the Uskoks. Finished in 1558, it was built on the remains of ruined churches, monasteries, and houses which were situated outside of the walls of Senj. These buildings were scrapped since it was concluded that they would not survive anyway if they were outside the city walls, as the Ottomans would loot them or use them as housing during sieges.

The fortress was mainly built to fight the Ottoman Empire and to be used as a base for the Uskoks. The Uskoks (who built and inhabited the fort) were great enemies of the Ottomans, as they had previously taken another city called Klis, where the Uskoks used to reside. Before the fortress was built, Senj had been besieged three times, but none succeeded; after the fort was built, the fortress or Senj was not attacked again.

The Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia’s most popular tourist attraction, located roughly halfway between the capital city Zagreb and Zadar on the coast, covers a total area of 300 square kilometers, whilst the lakes join together over a distance of eight kilometers.

It is a part of UNESCO World Heritage since 1979. It lies in its sixteen lakes, the waters flowing over the limestone have, over thousands of years, deposited travertine barriers, creating natural dams which have created a series of beautiful lakes, caves, and waterfalls. The forests in the park are home to bears, wolves, and many rare bird species, so the Plitvice Lakes National Park is a must-see!

Zadar was a settlement of the Illyrian tribe of Liburnians (Jader) in the 4th century BC. Later it became Roman municipal, which shaped the architectural characteristics of today. It became the center of the Byzantine province of Dalmatia in the 7th century, and in the 9th century, Zadar was mentioned as the seat of bishop Donatus and the Byzantine leader Paulus.

A city of old and dynamic history often destructed and devastated, every time emerging from the ruins stronger, richer, and more beautiful. In 2016 Zadar got the prestigious title of ‘Best European Destinations’.

DAY 5 – Šibenik and Krka NP

Šibenik was created as an ancient castrum, a fortification at the bottom of St. Michael’s Fortress, that today still dominates the town. The city was mentioned for the first time in the 11th century in a proclamation by King Petar Krešimir IV., the most important Croatian ruler. In the 12th century, it was destroyed by the Venetians, but settlers built it again from the ground.

The harbor, connected to the open sea by St. Anthony Strait, has been an initiator of maritime affairs development, trading, and the overall economic prosperity of the town for centuries. The Fortress of St. Nicholas, at the entrance into the Strait, is the most important Renaissance fortress on the eastern coast of the Adriatic.

Then we will take you to the beautiful Krka National Park, home to more than 800 species of flora and a huge range of birds. You’ll trek through lush vegetation to the magnificent waterfalls of Skradinski Buk, and Roški Slap, enjoying views of beautiful small cascades and numerous backwaters and islets. Krka Waterfalls is the only National Park in Croatia where swimming is allowed!

DAY 6 – Trogir, Solin, and Klis, Split

Trogir, the city with 2300 years of tradition, is a remarkable example of an urban island settlement from the Hellenistic period. In the first century, Trogir became the Roman municipality ‘Tragurium’, and joined Salona, the center of the Roman province of Dalmatia. Upon the fall of the Roman Empire, Trogir became an independent town. It has beautiful Romanesque churches which are complemented by the outstanding Renaissance and Baroque buildings from the Venetian period, and in 1997 UNESCO acknowledged Trogir as a World Cultural Heritage.

3000 years old ‘Salona’, today Solin, was the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia and the birthplace of Emperor Diocletian. In the 7th century, the town was destroyed after the arrival of Avars and Croats, and refugees escaped to Diocletian’s Palace, in Split. Known as ‘The Cradle of Croatian history, it was one of the capital cities in the Medieval Croatian state and a place where Croatian King Demetrius Zvonimir was crowned in the 11th century. Today, Solin preserved remains of the old city and the arena, where gladiators fought to the death.

The Klis Fortress is situated on the eponymous hill near the town of Split, between the mountains of Mosor and Kozjak. Back in the 7th century, a very important defense point in Croatian history, as it was a seat to many of Croatia's rulers. Over history, it was in the possessions of Ottomans, Venetians, and Austrians. Today, Klis Fortress is a tourist attraction with a museum, from where you can take some beautiful panorama pictures of Split.

DAY 7 – Split and Imotski

“Mediterranean Flower,” Croatia’s second-largest city, Split, is located on a beautiful peninsula off the Dalmatian Coast. Built between 298 and 305 AD in the glory of Ancient Rome by Emperor Diocletian as a palace, a luxury summer house. Growth became rapid in the 7th century when the inhabitants of the destroyed Greek and Roman metropolis Salonae (Solin) took refuge within its walls. Today, Diocletian’s Palace in the very heart of Split is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has been a high point for world travelers for well over a thousand years.

The Blue and the Red Lakes have been recognized as the top tourist attraction of Imotski. Both lakes are natural phenomena, also known as 'pearls of nature. The Blue Lake is almost bordering the town of Imotski, while the Red Lake is only one kilometer away. Blue Lake was named after the color of the water in it, and Red Lake's name comes from the red stones that surround it. The Blue one is very attractive to media during periods of extreme drought because when the lake gets dry local people play football at the bottom.

DAY 8 – Ston, Trsteno Arboretum and Dubrovnik

Popularly known as ‘The Great Wall of Europe’, more than five kilometers in length, Ston town walls are the longest complete fortress system around a town in Europe and the second in the world. Built in the 15th century as the first line of defense, heavily fortified, to protect a precious commodity – salt. Ston was economically and strategically the most important place in the Dubrovnik Republic.

With the tradition of harvesting salt for over 4000 years, ‘The City of Salt’ is confirmed even nowadays as the oldest active salt pan in the world. Saltworks were built there in the 13th century, today producing salt in the same way as eight centuries ago.

Trsteno is a small seaside village known for its rich history and natural beauty, and the 500-year-old giant natural monuments - Asian plane trees. It is the home of the Trsteno Arboretum. Trsteno boasts the 15th-century renaissance summer residence of the Gučetić-Gozze family, with its garden which has been cultivated from the 15th century to the present day.

The garden encompassing the summer residence, aqueduct, mill, fountain with Neptune and nymphs, and the belvedere pavilion overlooking the sea and islands is the finest example of Dubrovnik's summer residence garden architecture. Dubrovnik, ‘The Pearl of the Adriatic', is known for its spectacular seafront location on the Dalmatian coast and breathtaking beauty.

For most of its history, Dubrovnik was a republic of its own and a beacon of diplomacy. In the 13th century, it became the trading power of the Mediterranean, keeping its freedom of trade through diplomatic routes and its protective walls and fortress.

The architecture, philosophy, science, literature, and music of Dubrovnik are an irresistible part of the cultural heritage of Europe, which is why UNESCO placed Dubrovnik under its special protection in 1979. The City offers a unique experience, numerous cultural activities, and festivals. It was the main filming location for King's Landing (Game of Thrones) and one of the filming locations for Star Wars: Episode VIII.

DAY 9 – Dubrovnik and Lokrum

Enjoy Dubrovnik one more day, for it is a city you will never forget!

Grave goods at the Dubrovnik Museum indicate that Lokrum was inhabited since prehistoric times. A fragment of an ancient gravestone and four interlaced relief fragments, built into the southwest part of the former Benedictine monastery, were preserved. Certain records state that Lokrum was settled by the Benedictine monks around 915 A.D.

The monastery complex was first mentioned in 1023 as the first of many Benedictine monasteries on the territory of the Dubrovnik Republic. The entire island was owned by the monastery, while the abbey served also as a hospital and an almshouse until the mid-15th century. The Roman Curia granted the miter in 1149 to the Lokrum Abbot and ever since then the monastery’s abbots, after the archbishop, are considered the first prelates of the Dubrovnik Church.

DAY 10 – Dubrovnik

Transfer to Dubrovnik airport.


2x nights in Zagreb

2x nights in Split

2x nights in Dubrovnik

1x night in Rijeka

1x night in Zadar

1x night in Šibenik

Everyday breakfast at the hotel and authentic lunch/dinner

All taxes and VAT

Private driver and guide

Private transfer from APT Zagreb to your hotel

Private walking tours

Entry tickets

Tickets for the boat to Lokrum

Private transfer from the hotel to the airport

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