If little kids are asked to draw a castle based on their reading of stories like Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty then I wouldn’t be surprised if their drawings look something like the Trakošćan Castle. Sitting on a hilltop next to a lake and surrounded by woods and meadows, the castle, with its light yellow and white exterior, stone walls and a central tower, looks like a structure straight out of fairytales.
Located in an idyllic setting near the northern border of Croatia, Trakošćan Castle is only around 80 km from Zagreb.
BIDDING ADIEU TO ZAGREB
We woke up early on our final morning in Zagreb and walked to Ban Jelačić Square. After two days of relaxed atmosphere, the square was buzzing with Monday morning activity. We bought a couple of Sim cards from a Tele2 store and then took a tram to Hotel Sheraton where the office of Nova car rental was situated. We filled up our paperwork, collected our car, drove back to our apartment to pick up our luggage and left for Trakošćan by 10:45.
A BRIEF HALT BY LAKESIDE
When the 13th century Trakošćan Castle was modified and renovated in the 19th and 20th centuries, an artificial lake was added to it. Just a few kilometres before the castle, the wall of trees that surrounded the narrow winding road we were driving on, parted to give us a glimpse of that lake. It was an enchanting sight which compelled us to take a halt and spend a few minutes sitting in solitude and clicking photos by the lakeside.
From there we continued our journey and arrived at the castle by 12:20. We parked our car (15 kn), bought our tickets (40 kn each) and set out to explore the castle.
THE CASTLE GROUNDS
Once we walked in through the turnstiles, we came across a souvenir store and a cafe from where our gradual ascent to the castle began. The first building we saw was a small 18th century chapel dedicated to St. Cross in the castle grounds.
We kept following the gravel path and before long we came upon the lake at the foot of the small hill on which the castle is built. We decided to explore the castle grounds and capture the fairytale look of the castle before visiting the castle itself. Walking along the side of the lake to find the perfect vantage point, we eventually reached a small clearing on the other side of the lake right opposite the castle. There, we finally understood why Trakošćan is the most famous and picturesque of all castles in Croatia. Gleaming in the noon sun under the clear blue skies, surrounded by greenery and reflected in the lake below; it looked like a scene from those Disney movies. Once we had our fill of that magical scene spread out in front of us, we made the slightly steep climb to the castle gate.
INSIDE THE CASTLE
In the mid 20th century, the Drašković family, owners of Trakošćan Castle for the majority of its history, left the castle. Soon after that, the castle was nationalized and was converted into a museum.
The interior of the castle was divided into four levels and consisted of almost 30 rooms, most prominent of which were the Hunter Hall, the Knight’s Hall, the weapon rooms, the Dining Room, the Music Room, Juliana’s Room and the Kitchen.
These rooms contained beautiful exhibits dating from 15th to 19th century and belonging to different styles. These exhibits included furniture, portraits, paintings, weapons, armour, books, utensils, etc. A couple of rooms detailed the history of the castle and the Drašković family. A room which we found quite fascinating had large canvas paintings depicting battle scenes and formations of Drašković soldiers in minute detail and miniature models of the soldiers. Unfortunately, photography was prohibited inside the castle but some of the exhibits can be seen here on the official site of the castle. There is also a viewpoint from where one can see the pretty landscape surrounding the castle.
Since we didn’t have to spend any time taking pictures, it took us a little less than one hour to see the entire museum. By 2 p.m. we were back in our car and on our way to the charming town of Varaždin.