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 who were in control of the region in early Middle Ages.
The toponym was first mentioned in written records in 1334. It is not known who its owners were in the first years of its existence. As of the end of the 14th century, it was owned by the Counts of Celje, who were in charge of the entire Zagorje County. The family soon became extinct, and Trakošćan shared the fate of their other burgs and estates that were divided and kept changing owners. In these divisions, Trakošćan was, as a whole, first owned by an army leader by the name of Jan Vitovac, then by Ivaniš Korvin, who gave it to his deputy warden Ivan Gyulay. The family kept the castle throughout three generations, and became extinct in 1566, after which the ownership was taken over by the state.
King Maximilian gave the estate to Juraj Drašković (1525–1587) for services rendered, first personally, and then as family heritage. This was how, in 1584, the Drašković family finally came into possession of Trakošćan.
In the second half of the 18th century, when the building of manors was flourishing in Hrvatsko Zagorje, Trakošćan was abandoned. Neglected, it fell quickly into dilapidation. It was only towards the middle of the 19th century that the family became interested once again in its estate, in the Romanticist spirit of return to nature and family traditions. In this spirit, the deputy marshal Juraj V. Drašković turned the castle into a residential manor-house, while the surrounding park was turned into Romanticist pleasure grounds. The generations that followed were staying at the castle from time to time all the way until 1944 when they were forced to emigrate to Austria. Soon after that, the castle became nationalized.
The Museum with collections on permanent display was established in 1953. The castle is today owned by the Republic of Croatia.
The castle itself reveals different phases of building. For several centuries, it used to be a fortification, so that the reconstructions undertaken during that period were functional rather than aesthetic. The facility's essential core is a Romanesque fortification consisting of a housing unit, a small fortified yard, and a massive high tower. The fortification's good location and its observation tower made it safe and easy to defend.
Rapid development of firearms and increasingly threatening Turkish attacks made additional construction and further fortifying urgently necessary. The Drašković family's second generation, Ivan II and Petar, added the western tower, which may be seen from the coat-of-arms and the accompanying inscription.
On the Great Genealogical Tree, the oldest visual presentation from 1668, the facility had three floors, and its basic dimensions could already be discerned. Over the next period, several defense facilities were added around it. At the time, it also had the highest number of inhabitants, as may be seen from the Small Genealogical Tree dating back to 1755. It was in this same century that the outbuildings were erected at the foothills of Trakošćan, and a stone bridge built over the river Bednja.
In the 19th century Trakošćan acquired its present appearance. In the 1840–62 period, during one among the first restoration undertakings in the country, the castle was reconstructed in Neo-Gothic style. This not only altered its exterior, but also finally brought to an end its five centuries long fortification purpose. The reconstruction also included the appearance of Romanticist pleasure grounds by Juraj V. Drašković, after the model of English parks. When the dam was built, the valley turned into a large lake. The uniqueness of style characterizing the facility equally includes the interior and its surrounding landscape. Count Drašković sold Klenovnik Castle, the largest castle in Croatia, then also held by the Draskovich Family in order to fund the restorations.
After the reconstruction, the castle was still inhabited by several generations of the Drašković family that did some additional constructions and adaptations. It was at the time that the northern tower appeared over the entrance, a large shingle cap added to the top of the tower (removed in 1961), and a southwestern vaulted terrace added.
The end of World War II found Trakošćan in a neglected and dilapidated condition, which is why protective architectural and interior decoration works were immediately undertaken. Over the past few years, the castle has once again been undergoing more thorough reconstruction.References:
Castle of Lorca (Castillo de Lorca) is a fortress of medieval origin constructed between the 9th and 15th centuries. It consists of a series of defensive structures that, during the Middle Ages, made the town and the fortress an impregnable point in the southeast part of the Iberian Peninsula. Lorca Castle was a key strategic point of contention between Christians and Muslims during the Reconquista.
Archaeological excavations have revealed that the site of the castle has been inhabited since Neolithic times.
It has not been determined exactly when a castle or fortress was first built on the hill. The first written documentation referring to a castle at Lorca is of Muslim origin, which in the 9th century, indicates that the city of Lurqa was an important town in the area ruled by Theudimer (Tudmir). During Muslim rule, Lorca Castle was an impregnable fortress and its interior was divided into two sections by the Espaldón Wall. In the western part, there was an area used to protect livestock and grain in times of danger. The eastern part had a neighbourhood called the barrio de Alcalá.
Lorca was conquered by the Castilian Infante Don Alfonso, the future Alfonso X, in 1244, and the fortress became a key defensive point against the Kingdom of Granada. For 250 years, Lorca Castle was a watchpoint on the border between the Christian kingdom of Murcia and the Muslim state of Granada.
Alfonso X ordered the construction of the towers known as the Alfonsina and Espolón Towers, and strengthened and fixed the walls. Hardly a trace of the Muslim fortress remained due to this reconstruction. Muslim traces remain in the foundation stones and the wall known as the muro del Espaldón.
The Jewish Quarter was found within the alcazaba, the Moorish fortification, separated from the rest of the city by its walls. The physical separation had the purpose of protecting the Jewish people in the town from harm, but also had the result of keeping Christians and Jews separate, with the Christians inhabiting the lower part of town.
The remains of the Jewish Quarter extended over an area of 5,700 square m, and 12 homes and a synagogue have been found; the synagogue dates from the 14th century and is the only one found in the Murcia. The streets of the town had an irregular layout, adapted to the landscape, and is divided into four terraces. The synagogue was in the central location, and around it were the homes. The homes were of rectangular shape, with various compartmentalized rooms. The living quarters were elevated and a common feature was benches attached to the walls, kitchens, stand for earthenware jars, or cupboards.
With the disappearance of the frontier after the conquest of Granada in 1492, Lorca Castle no longer became as important as before. With the expulsion of the Jews by order of Ferdinand and Isabella, Lorca Castle was also depopulated as a result. The castle was abandoned completely, and was almost a complete ruin by the 18th century. In the 19th century, the castle was refurbished due to the War of Spanish Independence. The walls and structures were repaired or modified and its medieval look changed. A battery of cannons was installed, for example, during this time. In 1931 Lorca Castle was declared a National Historic Monument.
Currently, a parador (luxury hotel) has been built within the castle. As a result, archaeological discoveries have been found, including the Jewish Quarter.