Medieval castles in Croatia

Topana Fortress

The Topana fortress is located near to the mountain slopes of Modro jezero (Blue lake) and dominates over the town. The fortress was built in the 10th century and throughout history had a great strategic significance. The patron of the Imotski border- land is Our Lady of the Angels, and a small church of the same name is located in the fortress" surroundings. The fortress was under Ottoman rule for over 200 years. To ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Imotski, Croatia

Trakoscan Castle

Trakošćan was built in the 13th century within Croatia"s northwestern fortification system, as a rather small observation fortress for monitoring the road from Ptuj to Bednja Valley. According to a legend, Trakošćan was named after another fortification (arx Thacorum) that was alleged to have stood in the same spot back in antiquity. Another source claims that it was named after the knights of Drachenstein w ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Trakošćan, Croatia

Pazin Castle

Pazin Castle is built on a solid rock situated in the middle of the town of Pazin, the administrative seat of Istria County. It is the largest and best-preserved castle in that westernmost Croatian county. The fortified structure was constructed of hewn stone, and, during its 1100 years long history, subjected to several major reconstructions and renovations. The Pazin Castle was first mentioned in 983 in a document issu ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Pazin, Croatia

Dvigrad Castle Ruins

Dvigrad was originally two towns, Moncastello and Castel Parentino. Dvigrad was first mentioned in 879, when it fell under the rule of the Patriarch of Aquileia. However, it had existed long before it as a part of the Roman province settlement. Its name speaks originally of two towns. Today"s ruins are the remains of the northern town of Moncastello, while the other one, Castel Parentino, was abandoned in the 10th ce ...
Founded: 9th century AD | Location: Kanfanar, Croatia

Samobor Castle

Samobor Castle was built on a hill above the crossroads of then important routes in the northwestern corner of the Sava valley, above the medieval market town of Samobor. The castle was erected by the supporters of Czech king, Ottokar II of Bohemia, between 1260 and 1264, who was then in a war with Hungarian king Stephen V. Croatian-Hungarian forces under command of duke of Okić soon retook the castle, for which he was g ...
Founded: 1260 | Location: Samobor, Croatia

Dubovac Castle

The Dubovac Castle overlooks the Croatian city Karlovac. Its square tower was probably built during the 13th century. In the 15th century, the castle was rebuilt in Renaissance style. The castle had various owners—from Slavonian nobleman family Sudar to famous Croatian counts and dukes Frankopan and Zrinski. From 1671 until 1809, the Dubovac was owned by the Karlovac generals. In 1837, a new owner, Count Laval Nugent, r ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Karlovac, Croatia

Ozalj Castle

Ozalj Castle, located on the stone cliff perched above the Kupa River, is one of the best-known fortifications of this type in Croatia. It is a very old stronghold (first mentioned in 1244) that has been converted into a castle. The popularity of this castle is because this was the joint castle of the Croatian noble families of Frankopan and Zrinski. In fact, it was the scene of the unlucky Zrinski–Frankopan cons ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Ozalj, Croatia

Tureta Fortress

The Byzantine Fortress of Tureta is located in the Kornati Islands dates probably from the 6th century. It is assumed that the fort had a military purpose to secure and control sailing on the Adriatic Sea which was quite insecure at the time.
Founded: 6th century AD | Location: Kornati Islands, Croatia

Veliki Tabor Castle

Veliki Tabor is a castle and museum in northwest Croatia, dating from the middle of 15th century. The castle"s present appearance dates back to the 16th century. Most of the castle was built by the Hungarian noble family of Ráttkay, in whose ownership it remained until 1793. The oldest part of the fort centre is its central part, the pentagonal castle, whose stylistic characteristics belong to the Late Got ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Hum Košnički, Croatia

Vitturi Castle

Vitturi Castle was built by the aristocratic family Vitturi from Trogir, at the end of the 15th century. Two noblemen from Trogir, Nikola and Jerolim Vitturi, built the castle in order to provide protection not only for the Vitturi family but also for the population of the nearby village of Ostrog. The castle was built in the style of a luxurious renaissance palace and it was completed in 1564. It consisted of a residenti ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Kaštel Lukšić, Croatia

Drivenik Castle

The castle of Drivenik is first mentioned in 1228 as one of the co-signers of the Vinodol Code. From the 13th century the castle was the seat of the district administration, and upon the arrival of the Frankopans, their deputy Dragoljub resided there in 1288. In the 16th century (1571 based on an inscription on its walls) the castle was expanded in size and in the style of Renaissance fortresses it received round towers o ...
Founded: 1228 | Location: Crikvenica, Croatia

St. Michael Fort

St. Michael"s Fortress dates from the 13th century and it was built by the Venetian Republic. The island"s highest point, rising to an elevation of 265 meter above sea level, is easily visibloe from Zadar. Although in ruinous state, the Fortress is favourite place to visit, thanks to its magnificient view over Zadar archipelago and Kornati National Park.
Founded: 13th century | Location: Ugljan, Croatia

Novigrad Castle

Novigrad (literally “New Town”, somewhat of a misnomer), a castle ruin perched on a hill above the town of the same name, also has had a turbulent history. The Romans, and before them, the Liburnians, built forts on the same spot. Some of the walls date from Roman times, but Novigrad has been modernized. It has several restaurants and cafes right on the water, offering nice views of the harbor. Located 31 km east of ...
Founded: 13th century | Location: Novigrad, Croatia

Prozor Castle

Prozor Fortress sits prominently above the town of Vrlika. The known history of fortress begins parallel with the history of Vrlika in the 7th century, when the Croats moved there and formed a village on the spring of the river Cetina, in a field below the mountain Dinara. After the crowning of Ladislaus as the Hungarian King in Zadar in 1403, and in political maneuvering against his arch political rival and enemy, king ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Vrlika, Croatia

Kastilac

Kaštilac was a fortress of a Benedictine Monastery. Kaštilac is the only castle of seven castles in Kaštela. King Zvonimir of Croatia of the Svetoslavić branch of the House of Trpimirović, had donated to a Benedictine from Split possession in the Kaštela field (Kaštelansko polje) in 1078. In the 12th century Benedictine built a church of St. Cosmas and Damian in the Romanesque Architecture style. Due to th ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Kaštel Gomilica, Croatia

Ilok Castle

Ilok Castle overlooks the town of Ilok in eastern Croatia. It is built on a hill above the town centre, offering views on the Danube and the Pannonian Plain. The castle was originally built in the 15th century by Nicholas of Ilok, Croatian viceroy and the king of Bosnia. The Ottomans conquered Ilok in the 16th century. After the victory against the Ottomans at the Battle of Vienna in 1683, the Emperor Leopold I gran ...
Founded: 15th century | Location: Ilok, Croatia

Pietrapelosa Castle

Pietrapelosa is a castle in the Croatian part of Istria, now ruined. In the medieval period a family took their name from the castle. 'Pietrapelosa' comes from the Italian words meaning 'hairy stone' after the moss that has always grown on the walls of the castle. It is one of the best-preserved of the Istrian castles. History Pietrapelosa is a few kilometers west of Buzet in a strategic location at ...
Founded: 10th century | Location: Buzet, Croatia

Sokol Castle

Sokol castle was first documented in 1373, but it has been used already in the Roman ages. After been a stronghold of Roman and Byzantine empires, the city-state of Dubrovnik (Ragusa) took its possession in 1423. After the Cretan War (1645–1669) the castle lost its military purpose and it was abandoned. Today it is a protected site.
Founded: 14th century | Location: Konavle, Croatia

Slunj Castle

An old fortification of the Frankopans, built during the wars against the Turks, Slovin was first mentioned in the 12th century. The old fort was property of the Frankopan family since the 15th century, joined by an old Franciscan monastery from the same period. Later, this town has been called Slunj. In the 16th century the town was ravaged by the Ottoman wars and turned into a military outpost of the Croatian Military ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Slunj, Croatia

Novigrad na Dobri Castle

Above the river and bridge across the river Dobra, stands elevated Novigrad, a historic fortress built west of Karlovac in the 14th century. Until recently the old castle of Frankopan, Novigrad, was a neglected ruin. The restoration so far has at least brought back some of its basic dimensions and made it again a recognizable point in the landscape. When this city appeared, is not known precisely. Its name Novigrad could ...
Founded: 14th century | Location: Netretić, Croatia

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba

The Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba, also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita is regarded as one of the most accomplished monuments of Moorish architecture.

According to a traditional account, a small Visigoth church, the Catholic Basilica of Saint Vincent of Lérins, originally stood on the site. In 784 Abd al-Rahman I ordered construction of the Great Mosque, which was considerably expanded by later Muslim rulers. The mosque underwent numerous subsequent changes: Abd al-Rahman II ordered a new minaret, while in 961 Al-Hakam II enlarged the building and enriched the Mihrab. The last of such reforms was carried out by Almanzor in 987. It was connected to the Caliph"s palace by a raised walkway, mosques within the palaces being the tradition for previous Islamic rulers – as well as Christian Kings who built their palaces adjacent to churches. The Mezquita reached its current dimensions in 987 with the completion of the outer naves and courtyard.

In 1236, Córdoba was conquered by King Ferdinand III of Castile, and the centre of the mosque was converted into a Catholic cathedral. Alfonso X oversaw the construction of the Villaviciosa Chapel and the Royal Chapel within the mosque. The kings who followed added further Christian features, such as King Henry II rebuilding the chapel in the 14th century. The minaret of the mosque was also converted to the bell tower of the cathedral. It was adorned with Santiago de Compostela"s captured cathedral bells. Following a windstorm in 1589, the former minaret was further reinforced by encasing it within a new structure.

The most significant alteration was the building of a Renaissance cathedral nave in the middle of the expansive structure. The insertion was constructed by permission of Charles V, king of Castile and Aragon. Artisans and architects continued to add to the existing structure until the late 18th century.

Architecture

The building"s floor plan is seen to be parallel to some of the earliest mosques built from the very beginning of Islam. It had a rectangular prayer hall with aisles arranged perpendicular to the qibla, the direction towards which Muslims pray. The prayer hall was large and flat, with timber ceilings held up by arches of horseshoe-like appearance.

In planning the mosque, the architects incorporated a number of Roman columns with choice capitals. Some of the columns were already in the Gothic structure; others were sent from various regions of Iberia as presents from the governors of provinces. Ivory, jasper, porphyry, gold, silver, copper, and brass were used in the decorations. Marvellous mosaics and azulejos were designed. Later, the immense temple embodied all the styles of Morisco architecture into one composition.

The building is most notable for its arcaded hypostyle hall, with 856 columns of jasper, onyx, marble, granite and porphyry. These were made from pieces of the Roman temple that had occupied the site previously, as well as other Roman buildings, such as the Mérida amphitheatre. The double arches were an innovation, permitting higher ceilings than would otherwise be possible with relatively low columns. The double arches consist of a lower horseshoe arch and an upper semi-circular arch.