Green spiritual oasis
Excursionists regularly make pilgrimages to the natural attractions and beautiful destinations of the Zagreb Green Ring, because there they have found the perfect hiding place to get away from stress, city crowd and hectic life-style. It is impossible not to feel calm and relaxed in the harmonious greenery, with a discreet soundscape of dormant villages, forests, meadows, mountains, streams and lakes. There is hardly a better way to get rid from worries and recharge with new energy. Some of the visitors are also seeking for spiritual fulfilment, and the rich sacral heritage of Zagreb County hides many places worth visiting. In addition to the famous Valley of the Cardinals in the Krašić region, there are also numerous chapels, churches, monasteries and other holy places with the long term and interesting past. Religious tourism naturally relies on existing facilities, and in addition to all the well-known beautiful sights, the surroundings of Zagreb can offer an additional dimension of peace and spirituality. Whether you are a true believer or just a curious traveller, this list of prominent locations can serve as inspiration for you to plan your next trip.
1) Valley of the Cardinals, Krašić
The birthplace of Cardinal Stepinac, Cardinal Kuharić and many other church dignitaries is the most famous pilgrimage destination of Zagreb County. Apart from visiting the birthplace of Alojzije Stepinac in Brezarić, a tour of the Memorial Home in the old parish office is unavoidable, where the Blessed spent the last years of his life under house arrest. In the parish church of the Holy Trinity you will find an altar erected in 2004 in his honour.
2) Wooden churches of Turopolje Region
A special feature of Turopolje Region is its wooden churches and chapels, an original product of traditional folk architecture. These modest beauties delight with their refined simplicity and resistance to modern times. About ten of them have been preserved, and the most charming and most famous is the chapel of St. Barbara in Velika Mlaka, from the 17th century.
3) Foot of St. Martin, Dugo Selo
Parish Church of St. Martin on Martin breg is the ruins of an old building built in the Gothic style from the 13th century and the location of the first Croatian "Footsteps of St. Martin". With this label, the nearby town Dugo Selo became part of the network of European cities united in the cult of worshiping this popular saint and a pilgrimage route that connects more than ten countries.
4) Franciscan monastery with the Church of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Jastrebarsko
On the edge of the city of Jastrebarsko there is a valuable cultural asset and an exceptional monument of sacral architecture. The Gothic core of the monastery dates from the 16th century, later it was extended in the Baroque style, and in the 18th century the present church was completed. In addition to the impressive interior, there are numerous works of art and a library with a collection of old books and maps.
5) Chapel of St. Elijah at Sveta Gera, Žumberak
With 1178 meters, Sveta Gera is the highest peak of Žumberačka gora with the Chapel of St. Elijah the Prophet. Today's building is a restored version of the original Gothic building from the 15th century. A tour of this unusual chapel is an ideal opportunity for a combination of hiking and pilgrimage. A special day for this is the last Sunday in January, when a pilgrimage-mountaineering hike to Sveta Gera from Sošice is traditionally organized.
6) Chapel of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Volavje, Jastrebarsko
One of the most magnificent Baroque churches in this part of Croatia was built in the 18th century on the site of an older medieval chapel and is surrounded by a portal wall. The noble Erdödy family is most responsible for its rich baroque decoration, and the monumental altar and the beauty of the stonework are especially impressive.
7) Franciscan monastery and the Church of St. John the Baptist, Kloštar Ivanić
Construction of the complex, which is one of the largest Gothic sacral buildings in northern Croatia, began in the 16th century and was completed in the 18th century. The massive Baroque bell tower stands out, which at the time of cadastral surveys during the Austrian rule served as the starting point for the survey. The sacristy preserves many valuable works of art, and the library numerous rare books.
8) Church of St. Lawrence, Lovrečka Varoš
A new church was built on the site of the original building that was destroyed during the Ottoman conquests in the 18th century. The Baroque building, seemingly typical of northwestern Croatia, also hides some peculiarities. A couple of free-standing statues of saints in front of the church are rarely seen, and the pulpit in the shape of Jonah's fish is a rarity at the global scale.
9) Church of the Three Kings, Komin
One of the most significant assets of the Croatian sacral heritage, the impressive church from the 17th century is surrounded by "cinktor", a wall with arcades characteristic of pilgrimage churches. The entire interior is covered with sumptuous frescoes and stucco ornaments, and especially valuable Gothic frescoes were discovered during the 1980s restoration.
10) Greek Catholic parish Church in Žumberak
Žumberak is the origin of the Greek Catholic Church in Croatia, since the area was inhabited in the 16th century by the Uskoks of the Byzantine rite on the run from the Turks. From their heritage came the Church of the Annunciation in the Neo-Byzantine style and the complex of the Greek Catholic Episcopal Palace in Strmec Pribićki. The church is of more recent date, built on a small artificial island, surrounded by a lake, and forms a whole with the castle, and the whole area exudes a unique atmosphere.