The history of mankind is the history of ideas.

ANDRE GIDE

Royal

The

Old Town

This picture-perfect castle is not just a backdrop. It is an old, powerful military fort which dates back to the 13th century. Once surrounded by a moat of water from a tributary of the Drava River, its owners, all members of powerful noble families, to put it mildly, were not on the best terms with the citizens of the royal free city of Varaždin. Today, the Old Town is the most impressive, popular and most photographed building in Varaždin and for almost a hundred years it has been home to the Cultural and Historical Department of the City Museum.

The Old Town

THE WATCHTOWER

The park that surrounds the Old Town can be entered through an impressive building highlighted by the now permanently lowered drawbridge. The Tower with a chain bridge was part of a large fortification system around the Old Town. This visually completes the view of the Old Town from Miljenko Stančić Square, said to be one the most beautiful spots in Croatia to have a coffee.

strelica-fotografija-desno
strelica-fotografija-lijevo
LISAK’S TOWER

Just like the Old Town, there was once a time the royal free city of Varaždin also had walls. However, they were demolished at the beginning of the 19th century when Varaždin urgently needed space to expand. Today, the only remnants of the walls are the northern or “Viennese” city gates from the 16th century, known as the Lisak’s Tower, which gives us a suggestion of what Varaždin, if the walls had been preserved – would look like today.

Palaces

What do attractive ball gowns and Varaždin palaces have in common? It’s simple. They are both baroque, elegant, playful and pastel coloured. These palaces symbolize the lavish history of Varaždin, and today are the most beautiful possible backdrop for numerous festivals and events for which Varaždin has become well-known. As there are so many, we’ve highlighted the most significant:

strelica-fotografija-lijevo
PATAČIĆ PALACE

The most valuable Rococo palace in Varaždin at the beginning of the so-called Dućanske ulice (Shopping Street) has been completely renovated. Take a peek into its courtyard, which faithfully evokes the atmosphere of the 18th century.

strelica-fotografija-lijevo
DRAŠKOVIĆ PALACE

The large building on the main city square is not only visually impressive but also a significant palace which, when Varaždin was once the capital, played home to the Croatian Parliament and the then Government. Today it is “only” a beautiful baroque palace with a story to tell.

VARAŽDIN COUNTY PALACE

Following many historical misfortunes, the palace has been restored to its original Rococo splendour with soft pink pastel shades dominating the facade. Its charming, semi-hidden courtyard features a small square which often hosts various events.

strelica-fotografija-desno
PRASSINSKY-SERMAGE

This playful Rococo palace with an elegant balcony dominates the locals’ favourite square for coffee. It houses the Gallery of Old and Modern Masters, and during summer months its courtyard hosts plays, film screenings and concerts.

strelica-fotografija-desno

Villas and houses

Magnificent palaces were not built by themselves. In its golden age, Varaždin was an advanced, rich and developed city with a numerous and wealthy bourgeoisie, and its architectural legacy is neither less valuable nor less beautiful. On the contrary.

Müller-Bedeković Villa 

This was built by doctor Müller, who transformed it into a public bath. It got its present appearance and name at the end of the 19th century. Today, the beautiful villa and park are known as one of the most stunning concert venues in Croatia, especially during Špancirfest Street Festival.

strelica-fotografija-gore

The Birth house of Ivan Padovac

A cute petite red-painted house located in an equally charming alley in the heart of the old centre of Varaždin is the birthplace of Ivan Padovac, a composer and a guitar virtuoso. When in Varaždin, you will almost certainly stop at this beautiful house as today it is the home of the Tourist Information Centre.

strelica-fotografija-dolje
RITZ HOUSE

Its name has nothing to do with the famous hotel chain – instead it is connected to the owners of the former cafe. It still serves coffee and its superb location, on the corner of two central squares in Varaždin, overlooking all sides of the city-centre pedestrian zone, simply adds to the reasons why it deserves a visit.

strelica-fotografija-dolje
Müller-Bedeković Villa 

This was built by doctor Müller, who transformed it into a public bath. It got its present appearance and name at the end of the 19th century. Today, the beautiful villa and park are known as one of the most stunning concert venues in Croatia, especially during Špancirfest Street Festival.

The Birth house of Ivan Padovac

A cute petite red-painted house located in an equally charming alley in the heart of the old centre of Varaždin is the birthplace of Ivan Padovac, a composer and a guitar virtuoso. When in Varaždin, you will almost certainly stop at this beautiful house as today it is the home of the Tourist Information Centre.

RITZ HOUSE

Its name has nothing to do with the famous hotel chain – instead it is connected to the owners of the former cafe. It still serves coffee and its superb location, on the corner of two central squares in Varaždin, overlooking all sides of the city-centre pedestrian zone, simply adds to the reasons why it deserves a visit.

In the first Croatian city elevated to the status of a royal free city, proud of its civil liberties for more than 800 years, everyone at least for a moment – can feel like a king or queen. Look for the royal throne in Uršulinska Street. Take a seat, prepare your mobile phones and cameras, put on a smile and show yourself to the world in the royal light. And don’t forget – if it’s not posted on social media, it never happened!

Royal throne

strelica-fotografija-lijevo

CITY HALL

Apart from the Old Town, the most famous and popular building in the centre of Varaždin is certainly the City Hall. For the last 500 years, it has been the home to the leading person of the city, the magistrate, richtár or – the mayor. With its elegant tower, balcony, symmetrical windows and large front door, the City Hall reminds us of the friendly but serious face that calmly observes the people of Varaždin, the visitors and life in the square. On Saturdays from April – October, the City Hall is even bolder, significant and more beautiful, guarded by the city guard. Having coffee accompanied by a delicious Varaždin breadstick klipić, the traditional Changing of the Guard ceremony and the music from the balcony, will turn into memorable moments.

PURGARI

Since the reign of the Empress Maria Theresa, Varaždin has been guarded by purgari. Only natives of Varaždin can become members of this historical unit. These “soldiers” in Grenadier uniforms and bearskin hats no longer hunt criminals and bandits, but symbolically preserve the libertarian spirit of the city, adding a special charm to many gatherings and events, and the most stand-out attraction is their Saturday Changing of the Guard ceremony, marking noon by a cannon shot.

strelica-fotografija-desno

Baroque

Had it not been for the great fire in the second half of the 18th century, it is questionable whether Varaždin would be known today as a baroque city. Apart from losing the status of the capital, one of the consequences of the fire was the change in appearance of Varaždin’s facades. Old, burnt and damaged medieval buildings were then rebuilt in the latest fashion in architecture – Baroque. Varaždin is rightly proud of the luxurious, elegant and playful pastel facades of palaces, houses and churches. However, Baroque plays “only” a part of the city’s identity in which all architectural styles permeate – from Gothic, Renaissance, Rococo and Classicism to modern architectural works.

The city of bell towers

The Varaždin skyline consists of elegant towers of its eight churches nestled throughout the city centre. The sacred heritage of Varaždin is just as rich, valuable and old as the secular, and the artistic and architectural treasures hidden by large and beautiful churches, as well as the monasteries, are of exceptional value. Most of Varaždin’s churches are open to the public and you can enjoy their beauty and peace, regardless of your beliefs.

CATHEDRAL

The artistic treasures built into the Varaždin Cathedral deserve a special page, but let’s summarize and say that this is one of the most charming and “warmest” baroque churches in Croatia with incredible acoustics – the reason why it hosts the most significant concerts of the Varaždin Baroque Evenings.

strelica-fotografija-gore
FRANCISCAN CHURCH AND MONASTERY

The early Baroque monastery complex in the centre of Varaždin boasts the tallest tower in the city, a valuable interior and a large hidden garden. Moreover, in front of the church entrance is one of the three unique castings of the statue of Gregory of Nin, sculpted by the great Ivan Meštrović.

strelica-fotografija-dolje
CHURCH OF ST. NICHOLAS

This church has Romanesque and Gothic roots, an unusual, almost Mediterranean Gothic tower, and a particularly interesting legend behind the stone mother bear above the built-in coat of arms of Varaždin. Once upon a time, there was a fire watch on duty at the top of the tower to determine the strength and location of a fire.

strelica-fotografija-dolje
CATHEDRAL

The artistic treasures built into the Varaždin Cathedral deserve a special page, but let’s summarize and say that this is one of the most charming and “warmest” baroque churches in Croatia with incredible acoustics – the reason why it hosts the most significant concerts of the Varaždin Baroque Evenings.

FRANCISCAN CHURCH AND MONASTERY

The early Baroque monastery complex in the centre of Varaždin boasts the tallest tower in the city, a valuable interior and a large hidden garden. Moreover, in front of the church entrance is one of the three unique castings of the statue of Gregory of Nin, sculpted by the great Ivan Meštrović.

CHURCH OF ST. NICHOLAS

This church has Romanesque and Gothic roots, an unusual, almost Mediterranean Gothic tower, and a particularly interesting legend behind the stone mother bear above the built-in coat of arms of Varaždin. Once upon a time, there was a fire watch on duty at the top of the tower to determine the strength and location of a fire.

Rest?

YOU READ MY MIND …

Arbia Dorka
Arbia Dorka Heritage Palace Café is also an accommodation facility with a history-inspired decor. The food, and especially the desserts, are all home-made and prepared with top-quality ingredients.
Palatin
Apart from its royal name, the Palatine restaurant’s royal flair permeates its interesting menu, wine selection and the ambience.
Medina škrinja
Within the basement of the charming Zakmardy medieval palace, you will find one of Varaždin’s most popular pubs. The deep and stylized cellar hides a knightly atmosphere, and even serves its own beer called Barokno pivo (Baroque beer).
X
Skip to content