Not many people in Zagreb are aware that, in addition to Medvedgrad, there is another medieval fortress in their vicinity.
The dark Middle Ages provide a fertile ground for legends, horror stories, and movies and TV-shows, so people gladly travel to other parts of the world just to see a castle or dungeon. A case in point is Dubrovnik and the rise in its popularity after Game of Thrones, which represents times similar to medieval, albeit fictional, was filmed there. However, we are often unaware that we don’t need to travel far and that there are more than enough places to explore around the northern part of Croatia as well.
Did you know that the remains of a medieval fortress can be found in the westernmost part of Zagreb?
The fortress, called Susedgrad, can be found in Podsused. Even though it is a protected cultural property, it had the misfortune of being located on the slopes of Medvednica, so all the funding has gone towards the restoration of its more famous sibling, Medvedgrad.
To get to know the history of Susedgrad, we need to go back to the 13th ct: in 1209, King Andrija’s deed of donation mentioned pograđe, which probably referred to Podsused, so this is thought to be the first time Susedgrad was mentioned, even though it was only indirectly. What we know for sure is that the fortress was directly mentioned for the first time in 1319, when it was referred to as Zumzed. Even though there is still no reliable archaeological evidence for this, it is believed that an older fortress had existed on this location even before Susedgrad was built. A warrior’s tomb, containing an iron sword and dating back to the 9th ct, was found here as well.
Susedgrad was owned by various noble families throughout its history, until the 13th ct, when Charles I of the House of Anjou took it over from the House of Babonić and had it renovated and rebuilt.
The owner of the fortress in the 16th ct became Ferenc Tahy, the notorious Baron whose cruel actions towards his serfs sparked the famous Peasant Revolt of 1573. Not many people know that in 1572 there was a smaller peasant revolt in Susedgrad as well.
After that, the new owners neglected the fortress in the 16th and 17th ct, and when it finally lost its strategic importance in the 17th ct, it was completely abandoned.
A mountain lodge and a park were built here in the 1930s, but the lodge didn’t survive the ravages of time.
A perfect weekend getaway
In its heyday, the fortress had 10-15 rooms, a basement, several farm buildings, 3 gardens, and a fishpond. In addition to the previously mentioned tomb of a warrior, several ceramic artefacts were also found here, and you can see them in the Croatian History Museum. The rest of the fortress is, unfortunately, left to decay at the mercy of time and weather.
You can reach Susedgrad by climbing up a steep hill in Podsused. Even though the climb is not simple, the breathtaking view over Podsused and the Sava River and the park around the fortress are worth every step.
Even though the fortress is in ruins, you can still let your mind wander when you see the remains of walls and doors, and easily imagine what the life in the medieval times used to look like.
We can only hope that the city government will soon invest their time into renovating this gem so that we and the generations to come can marvel at its grandeur once again.
Until that time, we encourage you to go on a weekend hiking adventure and visit Susedgrad.