June 20, 2020 – Did you know that one of Europe’s major restoration centres is in Varazdin County? Or that it was at a Ludbreg conference that Croatian war experiences helped to preserve much Syrian art and cultural treasures in the recent conflict?
One of the things I love about writing about Croatia is that there is always a story untold around the corner. This country is FASCINATING, and to give you a hint of how much fun and discovery you can enjoy here, here are 30 great discoveries I made in 2019 alone.
And if there is one place in Croatia which continues to surprise with every visit, it is the town of Ludbreg in northern Croatia. It is known to many here as the ‘Centre of the World’, but very few people even in Croatia know that it is home to the only certified miracle in all Croatia. You can read about the Ludbreg miracle here.
There are plenty of other unusual things to find in Ludbreg as well, as I noted after my first visit in 2016 in Ludbreg, the Most Fascinating, Unusual Little Town in Croatia?
Among them was the Ludbreg Restoration Centre, one of three major centres of restoration of Croatian art and cultural treasures. Tucked away on the upper floors of the impressive Batthyany Palace in the centre of town. For there you will find a team of some of the most skilled and dedicated professionals painstakingly restoring the many cultural treasures partially destroyed during the Homeland War and other events.
I visited the centre again recently, as part of our filming for the One Minute Ludbreg video series, which we will be starting shortly, only to be stunned all over again.
Not only was the centre doing outstanding work, but it was also winning international awards for its excellence. Take a look at the video below, for example, of the incredible restoration job on the equally incredible St Martin’s Church in Stari Brod, near Sisak.
The careful restoration won an award at the 2017 European Heritage Europa Nostra Awards – you can read more about that here, as well as enjoy this fabulous little church in the video below.
And, as we went around filming for One Minute Ludbreg, I learned SO much more on this, my second visit. How the chief restorer of the Sistine Chapel is a regular visitor to Ludbreg, and how a number of international restoration conferences are held in this miracle town.
During one such Ludbreg conference several years ago, at the height of the fighting in Syria, the topic on the table was how to protect Syrian cultural treasures during such a destructive conflict.
The Croatian experience of the Homeland War was that if a building was an obvious cultural treasure, it tended to be targeted, and so the advice to the Syrians was to remove any signs of cultural status from the buildings they wanted to preserve. As a result, many were spared which otherwise might have been destroyed.
I could have spent hours in there, just watching experts and masters in their crafts quietly going about their daily business, with a passion that was enviable. Experts such as Dunja, for example, who was delicately applying 24-carat gold leaf to historic wooden surfaces.
One Minute Ludbreg will start next month.
For more details on the incredible work of the Croatian Conservation Institute, visit the official website.
For the latest news from Ludbreg, follow the dedicated TCN section.