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:
The Church of Saint Demetrius, or Hagios Demetrios, is the main sanctuary dedicated to Saint Demetrius, the patron saint of Thessaloniki. It is part of the site Palaeochristian and Byzantine Monuments of Thessaloniki on the list of World Heritage Sites by UNESCO since 1988.
The first church on the spot was constructed in the early 4th century AD, replacing a Roman bath. A century later, a prefect named Leontios replaced the small oratory with a larger, three-aisled basilica. Repeatedly gutted by fires, the church eventually was reconstructed as a five-aisled basilica in 629–634. This was the surviving form of the church much as it is today. The most important shrine in the city, it was probably larger than the local cathedral. The historic location of the latter is now unknown.
The church had an unusual shrine called the ciborium, a hexagonal, roofed structure at one side of the nave. It was made of or covered with silver. The structure had doors and inside was a couch or bed. Unusually, it did not hold any physical relics of the saint. The ciborium seems to have been a symbolic tomb. It was rebuilt at least once.
The basilica is famous for six extant mosaic panels, dated to the period between the latest reconstruction and the inauguration of the Byzantine Iconoclasm in 730. These mosaics depict St. Demetrius with officials responsible for the restoration of the church (called the founders, ktetors) and with children. An inscription below one of the images glorifies heaven for saving the people of Thessalonica from a pagan Slavic raid in 615.
Thessaloniki became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1430. About 60 years later, during the reign of Bayezid II, the church was converted into a mosque, known as the Kasımiye Camii after the local Ottoman mayor, Cezeri Kasım Pasha. The symbolic tomb however was kept open for Christian veneration. Other magnificent mosaics, recorded as covering the church interior, were lost either during the four centuries when it functioned as a mosque (1493–1912) or in the Great Thessaloniki Fire of 1917 that destroyed much of the city. It also destroyed the roof and upper walls of the church. Black-and-white photographs and good watercolour versions give an idea of the early Byzantine craftsmanship lost during the fire.
Following the Great Fire of 1917, it took decades to restore the church. Tombstones from the city"s Jewish cemetery - destroyed by the Greek and Nazi German authorities - were used as building materials in these restoration efforts in the 1940s. Archeological excavations conducted in the 1930s and 1940s revealed interesting artifacts that may be seen in a museum situated inside the church"s crypt. The excavations also uncovered the ruins of a Roman bath, where St. Demetrius was said to have been held prisoner and executed. A Roman well was also discovered. Scholars believe this is where soldiers dropped the body of St. Demetrius after his execution. After restoration, the church was reconsecrated in 1949.