Medvedgrad: A Medieval Fortress Overlooking Zagreb Through the Ages

Medvedgrad is a medieval fortress located on the southern slopes of Medvednica, specifically on Mali Plazur, where it has been watching over Zagreb for eight centuries.

It was built in 1254 primarily to protect citizens after the catastrophic invasion of the Tatars, who had destroyed and burnt Zagreb to the ground. However, due to its strategic location, it was always at the center of property-political upheavals, so it changed owners several times in its history.

Probably because of its excellent location, Medvedgrad was never attacked. Instead, the owners often filled their treasury by looting surrounding villages. There are even recorded cases where these same owners, either through politics or weaponry, attacked Zagreb itself.

The most notorious among them were the counts of Celje, who attacked the city, so many Gradec inhabitants fled from their homes. There is also a well-known story about Countess Barbara of Celje – the infamous Black Queen (also known as Barbara Celjska).

After the fortress was struck by a terrible earthquake in 1590, Medvedgrad was abandoned, and its last rulers, the Gregorijanci, moved to a castle in Šestine. Only treasure hunters, allegedly looking for the treasure hidden under the city by the famous Black Queen, would visit it.

Many years later, in 1979, archaeological research, conservation of the walls, and reconstruction of some parts of the fortress began. Thanks to the care for this medieval burg, from the ruins arose the chapel of St. Philip and Jacob, the southern defense tower, the palas (a residence palace), and some other parts of the fortress.

In 1994 under the southern tower, the Altar of the Homeland was built, a work by sculptor Kuzma Kovačić, in which an eternal flame burns in memory of all Croatian heroes.

This is just one of many interesting places you can visit on the Mevednica Mountain, and I couldn’t recommend it more!

Hi! My name is Ivan, and I'm an author of I have been photographing and exploring Zagreb for more than 15 years, and if you want to know more about me and, read the Introduction articles by clicking here.

Read more

Stock Exchange Palace: A Landmark in Croatian Architecture

The corner semi-enclosed four-story building was constructed from 1923 to 1927 based on the competition project by Viktor Kovačić from 1921. The construction was...

Guardians of Zagreb: The Evolution of Gradec’s Medieval Fortifications

In the construction of Gradec, after King Bela IV granted the municipality the Golden Bull, typical features of medieval city architecture emerged, along with...

Rebuilding History: The Dawn of Zagreb’s New Era with the 16th Century City Hall

In the 16th century, Zagreb and Croatia were significantly impacted by the Hundred Years' Croatian-Ottoman War. The century concluded with a major earthquake on...

Exploring Zagreb’s Historic Charm: A Journey through the World’s Shortest Funicular

The Zagreb Funicular, affectionately known as "The Old Lady," is not just a means of transportation, but a symbol of the city's heritage and...