Five Incredible Croatian Castles and Manors

Lauren Simmonds

croatian castles
Copyright Romulic and Stojcic

November the 4th, 2023 – Croatia is bursting at the seams with history, and one thing everyone adores is the grand buildings of times long gone by. Here are five amazing Croatian castles and manors to visit.

Veliki Tabor


Northwestern Croatia might not get anywhere near the amount of limelight that the coast does, but there’s zero rhyme and reason to that – other than the obvious absence of the Adriatic Sea. Teeming with history, this part of the country has a lot to offer. One thing it offers is palaces, grand buildings and Croatian castles that will transport you directly back to the past. Veliki Tabor is one such castle which amazes with its architecture, size and overall grandeur. Located in Hum Kosnicki in Zagorje, this incredible structure dates back to the 15th century, with its current appearance being completed during the 16th. The majority of the castle as it currently appears was constructed by the Rattkays, a noble Hungarian family, who owned it until the late 1700s.

One of many interesting facts about this castle is the very dark aspect of its history. When it was under the ownership of the Count of Celje (Hermann II), his son Frederick fell for a local girl who came from a poor family. Veronika, the girl from the poor family who had very little to offer in the way of status or social climbing, was vehemently rejected by Hermann II, despite his son’s protestations. He had Veronika drowned after using what was a very easy way to get someone bumped off back during those days – accusations of witchcraft. Her body was apparently placed inside the walls of Veliki Tabor.


Copyright Romulic and Stojcic

Heading over to Varaždin County (Bednja), we’ll come face to face with what is arguably the most stunning of all Croatian castles – the mighty, imposing Trakošćan. Like something taken straight out of an old German fairy tale, this castle attracts hoards of visitors each and every year. Built back during the 13th century, it started out its existence as a humble observation tower as part of this part of Croatia’s fortification system. It was apparently named after another ancient fortification system called arx Thacorum, while others say its names draws its origins from the Middle Ages, more specifically from the former rulers of the area – the Drachenstein knights.

As time went on, this castle blossomed from being a mere observation tower to a much more imposing building, before falling into a dilapidated state after neglect in the 18th century. Juraj Drašković took an interest in the rapidly decaying structure in the 19th century, and transformed it into a manor house. By the time 1944 rolled around and the generations of Draškovićs who once stayed there were banished to Austria, the castle became nationalised. It fell into a state of semi-dilapidation once again following the end of the Second World War, before things turned around for it again in the 1950s.

Situated on the gorgeous Trakošćan lake and beautifully kept grounds, the castle is visited by many and has soared in popularity as far as Croatian castles, and indeed European ones, go. Now owned by the state, this remarkable castle is home to a permanent display of historical items and paintings and is often still undergoing renovations of sorts.

Ozalj castle

First mentioned in the 1200s, sitting high above the Kupa River like a vulture on a rugged cliff face, Ozalj castle is one of the most well known fortification systems of its kind in and around Croatia. Since converted from a mere fortification system to an actual castle, this amazing construction has rightfully earned its place among the most visited and photographed Croatian castles. Named after the town in which it is located, Ozalj, it was actually the joint property of the famous Frankopan and the Zrinski families. It’s also the scene of the Magnate conspiracy, a plot to oust the Habsburgs from their position by Hungarian and Croatian nobles. Naturally, that saga makes it all that more interesting to visitors and history buffs from across Croatia and the rest of the world.


Copyright Romulic and Stojcic

Believed to be built on the precise area on which there once stood an ancient Illyrian and Roman fortification complex, Trsat castle is a highly frequented historical site for people staying in both Istria and Kvarner. Built back during the 13th century above what is now the City of Rijeka, Trsat allows perfect views across the area. This strategic point was of enormous value to the numerous conquerors and occupiers of these lands throughout the turbulent centuries. Now boasting amenities to suit the crowds of visitors that descend upon it each and ever year, such as restaurants – it’s a must visit place for history lovers when anywhere near Kvarner. To make things more interesting still, one of the churches within the complex is the eternal resting place of Vuk Krsto Frankopan, a notable Croatian nobleman.


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This gorgeous baroque building, also often described as a manor as well as a castle, is located close to the City of Zagreb – in Zaprešić in the wider county. While nowhere near as old as some of the aforementioned Croatian castles, it’s absolutely no less impressive. Believed to have been constructed somewhere during the beginning of the 18th century, the von Rauch family were the owners of the sprawling and ever expanding estate. One fascinating fact about this castle is the fact that one of the greatest Croatian writers of all time – Marija Jurić Zagorka, resided here from the age of 3 until she was 10. Her father was employed as the von Rauch’s estate manager, and so Marija was given access to the estate’s expansive library after her talent was noticed by a member of the noble family.


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