What distinguishes Varaždin from other Croatian cities is the extraordinarily rich monumental and artistic heritage that is contained within its beautifully preserved Historic Core. Within the relatively small area of the Old Town are preserved palaces, important public buildings, Baroque, Rococo, Classicist and Secessionist houses and villas and one of the oldest City Halls in Europe. The richness of the religious heritage tells another story about Varaždin as a city of bell towers which its inhabitants have strived for centuries to build. The angels that adorn alters, walls and paintings will appreciate every glance they receive.
HOUSES AND VILLAS
The Drašković Palace
Since 1616, the Draskovic family has had a residence at the site of what today is the Drašković Palace. The current Palace was constructed in the second half of the 18th Century and Count Franjo Nadasdy came to live in a Palace in 1756 when Varzdin was the capital of the Kingdom. The Croatian Parliament (‘Sabor’) convened in the Palace, and in 1767 the Palace became the seat of the Royal Regional Council. On a stone portal above the main entrance is the gold plated Draškovic family coat of arms.
The Oršić Palace
From the minutes of the City magistrate in 1804, it was evident that the Count Erdödy (from Novi Marof) wanted to build a Palace in its current location. It is assumed that the building was completed in 1805, and this is confirmed by its early classicist features, in particular the beautiful stone portal. At the end of the nineteenth century it became the property of Countess Paula Oršić, and so the locals still call it the ‘Oršić Palace’.
The Patačić Palace
The most valuable Rococo Palace in Varaždin was built in 1764 and was left relatively unscathed by the Great Fire of 1776. During the 18th Century it was home to the Patačić family, and the hub of Varaždin’s cultural and social life.
After the financial collapse of the Patačić family, the Palace was used for a variety of purposes. During a thorough renovation in the late 1990’s, beautiful wall paintings were found once used as decoration. The ones on the first and the second floors have been partially preserved showing scenes from the late 18th Century.
Above the stone portal is “God’s Eye”, a symbol of the Counter-Reformation. The Palace boasts a beautiful bay window overlooking the Gundulić Street and the King Tomislav and Franciscan Squares. In the mansion on the street known as ‘Dućanska’ Street (‘The Street of Shops), there is a sign of the ‘turtle’ that once marked the grocer’s shop. The original sign is in the City museum.
In the courtyard of the Palace very decorative wooden beams can be seen, that are evocations of Varaždin in the mid-18th Century.
The Patacic-Puttar Palace
The present Palace is located in the immediate vicinity of what were the southern gates of the City, where nobles built their first houses outside the City walls from the mid 18th Century onwards. Around 1745 Count Patačić ordered the local master to merge three separate two-storey houses with a corner building and bay windows. It is interesting to note that on one side of the Palace the entrance has the features of the late Baroque period, whilst the other side, which was built a little later, has features which are recognizably Classicist.
The Sermage Palace
The Sermage Palace occupies a central position in the Miljenko Stančić Square. Following several marriage contracts this Palace passed from the Prassinzky family to the French noble Sermage family. In 1759 the Palace was renovated in a Rococo Style. The wrought iron balcony makes the facade stand out. Since 1947, the permanent collection of Old and Contemporary masters has been located in the Palace. Amongst the most valuable paintings are a fifteenth Century ‘Žitna madona’ (‘Madonna with Grain’) from an unknown artist of the Rubens school, and the Canaletto School oils . Most of the pictures came from surrounding castles after the Second World War and a smaller number of works were donated by the Nobleman Stjepan Leitner.
Sermage (17th century), Miljenko Stančić Square 3
Visits last 40 minutes; group tours per appointment.
Summer (April-September): Tuesday – Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Winter (October-March) Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Closed Mondays and holidays
The Erdödy Palace
With the expansion of the City outside the old City walls during the 1860’s, the Theresian styled Erdödy Palace was built in the Capuchin Square, which at the time was the largest in the City. In 1850 it was redesigned to form the ‘Capuchin’ Barracks. After World War II, the Palace became the barracks for the Yugoslav People’s Army, and consequently experienced devastation, particularly to the Erdödy family coat of arms that was placed on the front gate. Today, the Palace is more appropriately home to the Music School.
The Hertzer Palace
This classical Herzer Palace was built in 1791. Carved in stone above the main entrance is the coat of arms of the Herzer family, who made their wealth through postal enterprises and bought into the nobility in the 18th Century. The Herczer Palace now houses the Entomological Collection, which belonged to local Grammar School teacher Franjo Koscec (a biology teacher). The Košćec Collection was rebuilt in 1990’s, and now forms a permanent collection called ‘The World of Insects’. This is recognized by experts and visitors alike as one of the most beautiful collections of its kind in Europe. The 4,500 exhibits illustrate the biology of insects, and are divided into several fields: In the Woods, Near the Woods and in the Meadows, In the Water and on the Shoreline, at Night in the Ground. There are displays of entomological preparations, vertebrate taxidermy, herbarium specimens of plants, larger insect models, and various objects and photographs from Professor Košćec’s legacy. Amongst these are the tools he designed to process insects for the collection, and his preserved study. Other parts of the Exhibition include examples of Entomological work from Professor Koscec’s contemporaries.
Herzer Palace (18th century), Franjevački Square 6
Visits last 40 minutes; group tours per appointment.
Summer (April-September): Tuesday – Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Winter (October-March): Tuesday-Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Closed Mondays and holidays.
The Keglević Palace
This late Baroque Palace, which overlooks the Ban Jelačić square, was built in the late 18th Century. It was owned by the wealthy mercantile Nitzky Family.
Baron Stjepan Josip Patačić gave this house to the Councillor Juraj Petković, who went on to become a President of the ‘Banski Stol’ (‘Tabula Banalis’). They later sold it to the Tomassi Family who owned a drapery in Varaždin, and one of the later modifications turned it into Varaždin’s first cinema.
The Varaždin County Palace
The Varaždin County Palace was built in the Rococo style in 1768, but was destroyed in the fire of 1776, losing much of its original stylistic features during renovation. A great restoration and conservation project that began in 2001 has returned the Palace to her original condition, and now she once again houses the Varaždin County Headquarters. A coat of arms on the gable of the building was in 1763 officially designated by the Queen Maria Therese as the coat of arms of Varaždin County.
The Building of the Zagreb 'Kaptol’
The Lisak Tower
The Free and Royal City of Varazdin had embankments and a moat. Unlike the embankments of the Old Town, those surrounding the city were destroyed (mainly in the early 19th century). The only remaining part of original City walls are the North or ‘Viennese’ City gates, built in the 16th century and today known as the Lisak Tower. Lisak was a merchant and the owner of the tower in the first half of the 20th century.
The Lisak tower is located in the Ban Jelačić Square, more commonly known as the “Banus plac.” Once a very spacious and beautifully decorated square, it has been transformed into a Flower Market and parking area. From this spot in 1848, ‘Ban’ Josip Jelačić mobilised 50,000 troops over the River Drava, to wage war with the Hungarians.
The Zakmardy Palace
The City Hall
The official seat of the Free and Royal City of Varaždin was located in the City Hall, which dominates the main town square of King Tomislav. In 1523, the Old Town’s owner Juraj Brandenburg, gave to Varaždin its first stone building, which became home to the the City’s ‘magistratuš’ (Magistrate) and ‘rihtar’ (the Judge). They were the forerunners of today’s Mayor. Over the centuries, the Hall changed its appearance to its present shape with a tower in the middle, which was built in 1791 after the old hall burned in 1776.
A Varaždin coat of arms above the balcony adorns the Hall. It was confirmed by King Matthias Corvinus as the official emblem of the City in 1464, and has been unchanged since. Under the clockface on the tower is a moon phase indicator.
The Miljenko Stančić Memorial Collection includes 22 of his paintings, and is located in the City Hall Salon. The collection can only be viewed by appointment made with the City Protocol: + 385 42 402 508.
The Bishop's Palace
The town’s first primary school; ‘NORMALSKA SKOLA’ (‘NORMAL SCHOOL’)
In 1779, the first City primary school was a small single storey construction. In 1842, following the initiative of City judge Franciscus Rizmann, it was converted into a two-storey corner building, and at that time it was the most beautiful and the most harmonic of all classical public buildings. A prominent inscription read ‘Za dobro i korist znanja’ (‘For the good and benefit of knowledge’).
The First Grammar School Building
The new Varazdin Grammar School Building, erected in 1870, was built in a historicist style. It was designed by the Viennese architect H. Neumann W. Weiner together with various Varaždin artisans. A number of famous personalities such as: Ljudevit Gaj, Vatroslav Jagić, Franjo Rački, Ksaver Šandor Gjalski , Ivan Kukuljević, Gustav Krklec, Miljenko Stančić, Ruža Pospiš Baldani, and many others attended this prestigious school, and have left a significant mark on Croatia and world culture, science and spiritual heritage. Today in Varaždin there are two more grammar schools which are involved in a number of international educational institutions and projects.
The National Bank Building
The Croatian National Theatre
During the 19th Century, the site of the ancient canal was filled in, and the City walls were demolished to make space for the mushrooming public building programme. One of these buildings was the Croatian National Theatre, built in 1873 and designed in a historicist style. The famous Viennese Architect Hermann Helmer designed the Theatre, and during its construction, he fell in love with a Varaždin woman whom he later wed. The Theatre staged its first Croatian production, ‘Poturica’ by Ivan Kukuljević Sakcinski, on the 25th September 1873. The romance that occurred during its construction possibly explains the Theatre’s pleasing external harmony, and its luxury interior reveals an unquestioning passion and enjoyment of life. In any case, this exquisite building is home to people who create a parallel reality, and it is here that you can still enjoy the charms of Old Varaždin.
The building is also the seat of the Varaždin Concert Bureau, the organizer of Varaždin Baroque Evenings, and the City Library ‘Metel Ožegović’
Theatre (19th century), A. Cesarca 1
Theatre: +385 42 212-166 www.hnkvz.hr
The Post Office
The Hotel ISTRA
Formerly the ‘K divljem covjeku’ (‘The Wild Man’) tavern and inn, the proprieter Novak converted it in 1912 into the high-quality and well-known “Grand Hotel Novak.” The single-storey corner building has retained its original purpose, and after 1945 it changed its name to “Hotel Istra”.
The Railway Station
In the mid 19th century Varaždin was framed by railroad tracks on all four sides, but it was without a terminus to link it with the rest of the Croatia and the world. The City’s efforts to build the station included purchasing shares, the free allocation of land for the station and the route through Varaždin as well as providing building bricks. These bore fruit, and the construction of railways Čakovec Varaždin – Zaprešić -Zagreb began in 1895. The Čakovec – Varazdin – Zagreb railway allowed more connections with other parts of Croatia, opening the door to the greater industrialization of the City. The railway station building was designed by architect Valent Morandini. Initially an older building dating from 1886, it was enlarged in 1908 with two-storey raised facade of monumental proportions in an Art Nouveau style, which is typical of his work.
The Ritz House
During the house’s renewal, renaissance arches were found underneath the existing structure. Under the porch is a well-preserved stone entrance with a carved monogram IA – Andreas Italus de Argent, and the year 1540. He was a Varaždin goldsmith from the 16th century. The house is now named after the previous owner, who in the early part of the twentieth century had a coffee house, and the house remains one of the City’s cafes. Due to frequent changes in the names of town square (on average every 20 years), many locals probably do not know its official name, but it is known to one and all as the ‘Korzo’. In the 16th century it became the center of town. It is certainly one of those places for which the motto ‘Vidjeti i biti viden’ (‘To see and to be seen’) applies, and a very pleasant place to catch the first rays of spring sun on one of the terraces.
Ivan Padovec’s Birthhouse
The street leading from the Ursulin Convent to the Miljenko Stančić Square is the Cities best example of urban street. The eponymously named street where Ivan Padovac was born is the best street in the City for an ambience of calmness and relaxation; best appreciated during the winter dusk or on a spring morning. Ivan Padovec was a composer and the inventor of a guitar with two necks and he lived at number 3. As a child he lost an eye, and at 48 he became completely blind. He performed guitar concerts in Vienna, Brno, Prague, Graz, Budapest, Hannover, Hamburg and London.
The painter Ivo Režek lived in this same house.
The birthplace of Ivan Padovec is today home to the Varaždin Tourist Board and Tourist Information Centre.
PHONE +385 4 210 987, 210 985
The Müller – Bedeković Villa
A Varaždin physician, dr. William Müller, was known for building of the city park – the promenade in the area of the earlier souther moat. In 1827, he built the residential Villa Müller – Bedekovic alongside a park/promenade as his home. In 1874, the ‘Ban’ Koloman Bedeković transformed it into a classical style.
Dr. Wilim Bernhard Müller was born in 1785 in Germany and arrived in Varaždin in 1820. He was the towns’ physician and worked for more than 40 years as a doctor in Varaždin. A great philanthropist, he started schemes to pave downtown streets, construct sewers, plant trees lines and introduce oil lamp street lighting. He lived in the Augusta Cesarca Street, opposite the current Promenade. He opened a public bath in his house and a chicory factory in the neighbouring Anina Street. He died on the 27th March 1863 in Varaždin. Grateful citizens erected a monument in the promenade, and the sculptor Mila Vud dedicated sculptural rocks to the founder of the park; Dr. Muller.