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Liburnia – Following the Path of Frankopans

23 November 2009 No Comment

Liburnia is an area of rich history, which provided Croatia with the first script, code and presses, as well as the story of the Frankopans, a noble family who have left a deep mark on Croatian history during their centuries-long rule. The effects of their rule are still visible today through the remains of their forts, castles, towers and other buildings they ruled from. Ten out of the 19 castles and fortresses have been renewed and decorated as a part of the “Following the Path of Frankopans” project and they have been made available to those tourists who want to learn about the past and enjoy the beautiful landscapes of the Croatian coast and hinterland. The purpose of the project is to preserve the rich cultural heritage and show it to both the Republic of Croatia and the world. It is the most complex project of cultural heritage preservation, initiated by the County of Primorje-Gorski kotar in 2005. A well-preserved monument on this path and a witness of the past is the town of Grobnik and the beautiful castle built in a shape of a triangle, and is fortified and strengthened with towers and semi-towers and additionally fortified by another set of walls. The town of Grobnik has been a part of Croatia since the 10th century. It was owned by the Frankopans since 1225 and in 1671, after an agreement was made, it became the property of the Frankopans’ cousins, the Zrinski. However, after Petar Zrinski and Fran Krsto Frankopan were executed in the same year in Wiener Neustadt, the castle was plundered. For those who want to follow the map of the “Following the Path of Frankopans” project, the next destination is the castle in Bakar, located on an elevated plateau on the northwest side of the settlement, on the foundations of a prehistoric and Roman fortification. The castle owes its current appearance to renovations that were carried out in the 18th century after two earthquakes had taken place. The castle at Hreljin was built in an extremely favorable strategic position which dominated the communications linking the Croatian hinterland with the sea and Bakarac via Gorski kotar. The beautiful view that one can appreciate there clearly shows why it was a significant obstacle for the Turkish hordes during their raids towards Istria and Slovenia. The walls of the castle, which was abandoned in 1790, are poorly preserved. For those tourists who like historical buildings, Kraljevica offers the Frankopan castle in Nova Kraljevica and Zrinski Stari grad, a complex of buildings of the lower and upper castle. The Frankopan castle is one of the most attractive buildings within this project. It is located on a hilltop, on a cape above the sea, and it dominates the surrounding area and the entrance into the bay and the port of Kraljevica. Petar Zrinski started building the castle in the middle of the 17th century as a court for his family, i.e. his wife Katarina Frankopan’s family who used to own the property, which is the reason why it is called Frankopan castle. All the way up to the execution of Zrinski and Frankopan, the castle was a residency and later on it served as a hospital, barracks and a monastery. It was built as a Late Renaissance fort with many Baroque details. Stari grad in Drvenik is an impressive fort that was built in the Middle Ages for the protection and control of the traffic route through Vinodol. The fort consists of a quadrangle basis with round towers on the corners, one semi-tower and a Roman defense tower which is the oldest part of the fort. The castle gained its final appearance in the 15th century and, in the middle of the 18th century, the people who lived next to it went down to the valley and built the settlement that we know today along the Bakar – Novi Vinodolski road. The small settlement of Grižane is located not far away from Drivenik, and it is here where you can find the remains of the building located above Grižane, on a cliff under the rocks. Only a small part of the castle, built in the Middle Ages in order to protect the traffic route, has been preserved to this day: a part of the walls with the remains of three round towers. The Frankopan tower in Bribir, the only remaining part of that town’s castle, is in much better condition. Originally, the castle consisted of double walls, a narrow courtyard, residential and administration buildings and two towers. However, at the end of the 19th century the castle was demolished in order to build a school and a municipal building so only the quadrangle tower and a part of the walls on the north and west side of the former castle have been preserved to this day. The story of the ten Frankopan towers ends in Novi Vinodolski and Ledenice where the remains of the former fort are located above the sea and the Vinodol valley. You can reach the fort’s remains, where St. Stephen the Martyr’s Roman and Gothic church is the best preserved part, by a narrow mountain trail which leads you around the walls as well as into the inner part of the fort. The Kvadrac fort, a part of the once powerful fort around which Novi Vinodolski was built, stands out in the very center of the town of Novi. It is the only part that is left of the original architecture since it was modified to a significant extent at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. The former Novi Vinodolski castle was one of the most powerful and long-lasting Frankopan forts where the Vinodol Code, the most significant legal text written in the Croatian language and in the Glagolitic script about Medieval life on the Frankopan estate in Vinodol, was drawn up and adopted in 1288. The content of the code is one of the best and most advanced legal acts in feudal Europe and the protection of the serfs and women, who are described in it, is particularly interesting.

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