What I love most about visiting Croatian castles is that they still don’t attract too many visitors and are a little rough around the edges (in a good way). It might be a lawsuit waiting to happen, but there is something charming about tramping through the ruins of an old castle that is in various states of repair (or disrepair).
Stepping over a few tools on your way to look out the window or carefully making your way up a banister-less staircase somehow makes it easier to imagine the castle bustling and full of life. Definitely always worth the couple of kuna it costs for admission.
Our latest adventure took us to the old town of Ozalj, located southwest of Zagreb and just north of Karlovac.
Situated high above the banks for the Kupa river, the fortified old city is made up of a main castle and a few other buildings and is home to a small museum.
According to the tourist board, the first record of the town comes from 1244. It has a rich history that includes some of Croatia’s most famous aristocratic families like the Frankopan and Zrinski. To this day, Ozalj commemorates these two great lost families on the 30th of April every year. This is the date when Petar Zrinski and Fran Krsto Frankopan were executed near Vienna for rebelling against the Austrian crown in the Croatian-Hungarian Magnate conspiracy.
Besides what remains of the castle/old town, Ozalj is known for a very elaborate hydroelectric plant built by everyone’s favorite Croatian architect and all-around stand-up Purger, Hermann Bolle, builder of such sites as the Zagreb Cathedral and Mirogoj Cemetary, among many notable others. The plant, in charming Croatian turn-of-the-century parlance, is called “Munjara” which can be translated as “Lightning Mill.”
It threatened to rain almost the whole time, but we still spent over an hour tromping around what’s left of the old castle and checking out the museum.