Tucked away in Varazdin County is the most unusual little town in Croatia. Five things not to miss in Ludbreg.
Tucked away in a remote part of northern Croatia, less than 100km from Zagreb, lies a small town which perhaps can claim the title as the most unusual town in all Croatia. It is a town which in a period of economic downturn, is bucking the national trends with very low unemployment. But it is for other reasons that little Ludbreg holds our fascination. Here are five things not to miss on your visit.
1. Ludbreg, the Centre of the World
Crazy but true, say the locals.
Centre of the World Day is celebrated on April 1 each year, when the fountain next to the centre of the world flows with wine, in commemoration of the legend and the lady from which Ludbreg takes its name. Ludberga, the beautiful 16 year-old daughter of an estate manager, was seduced by Satan in the form of a knight, and they had a son, Theobold. She took care of her son, looked after the sick and worked as a maid, until Satan trid to seduce her again, this time in the form of a hermit. She escaped to the house of a winemaker and started to make wine, and her wine made it all the way to the table of the Pope. She aged beautifully and Satan came a third time, this time as a rich lord, trying to buy her vineyard. She wrestled Satan to the ground with a wooden cross, and the Earth exploded on the other side of the world, which is how the volcanic island of Antipodes came to be. Myth or reality? Does it matter – April 1 is a GREAT time to visit.
This legend, believed by many in Ludbreg since antiquity, was confirmed by Dr. Erasmus Weddingen, a Swiss, a frequent visitor to the Restoration centre and a Ludbreg enthusiast, by pure chance. He was playing with a chart divider and a map, and taking Ludbreg as the centre, he made circles on it, noticing that on this imagined line there really were major cities located, not only in Croatia, but wider. The closest proof of this legend are the cities closest to us: Varaždin, Koprivnica, Čakovec and Varaždinske Toplice, located 20 km from Ludbreg.
And last year saw the addition of another momument on the main square, so now you can put your head in the middle of the circle and have your photo taken in the centre of the world.
2. A Pilgrimage Site and Miracle Town
The religious town of Medjugorje in Hercegovina attacts more than 1.5 million tourists a year, it is one of the most important Catholic shrines in the world, even though it is still not recognised by the Vatican. Meanwhile in Ludbreg, there is a Vatican-approved Medjugorje lookalike (the church is VERY similar to the famous Medjugorje church), and a site which attracts 100,000 pilgrims in September each year, but very little apart from that. And, just like the centre of the world, the reason is linked to wine.
And it is in town where you can find the miracle which attracts all the pilgrims each year, for here is located the Blood of Christ, officially approved by the Vatican in 1513 by Papal Bull after an investigation.
3. Sara Kolak
Last year saw a miracle of an altogether different kind related to Ludbreg, a miracle which was perfromed in distant Rio de Janeiro at the 2016 Olympics, as little-known local javelin thrower Sara Kolak pulled off the performance of her life to land Olympic gold against all expectations. Her winning throw of 66.18m is now immoralised on Ludbreg’s main square.
4. Restoration of Croatia’s treasures.
Batthyany Castle is arguably Ludbreg’s finest and most historic building, with a rich heritage, but what is happening inside the building these days is equally spectacular. The Ludbreg Consevation Centre, part of the Croatian Conservartion Institute, was founded within its walls in 1992, tasked with the painstaking restoration of Croatia’s cultural treasures from churches, theatres and other public buildings which were damaged by the recent war. The war may be over for more than 20 years, but the slow, meticulous work continues. A fascinating project with truly dedicated experts. Regular workshops are held in the castle for restoration students and enthusiasts.
5. Smart tree
Croatia is quickly becoming known as an innovative nation when it comes to solar technology, but the first so called smart tree in the country was located in the main square in Ludbreg. Sit down and relax under your solar shade, while recharging your mobile at the points provided. A perfect place to relax and observe life on the main square of the most fascinating little town in Croatia.