Veliki Tabor is one of the best preserved castles in Croatia and is great to bring a visit.
The white castle is nicely situated on top of Mount Hum Košnički – 333 meters above sea level, near the border with Slovenia. This castle has dominated the Zagorje area for over half a millennium and offers beautiful views on the surrounding area. Probably in the mid-15th century the building of the castle Veliki Tabor was started. The pentagonal castle was build in late Gothic style and is surrounded by four semi-circular Renaissance towers connected by so-called ‘curtain walls’ and the walls of the northern entrance. There is an outer defence wall with a farm office, a Renaissance bastion and two semi-circular guardhouses. It is assumed that Frederick II of Celje (1378-1454) has started the building of the castle and his successor Ivan Vitovec initiated the construction of the western and eastern Renaissance towers.
The members of the Rattkay family ruled the castle the longest from the years 1502 until 1793. In 1793 Josip Ivan Rattkay died without a male heir and Veliki Tabor was placed under the management of the Hungarian Chamber. After being transferred and owned by different owners, finally – in 2003 – the organisation ‘Muzeji Hrvatskog Zagorja‘ took over the management of Veliki Tabor. Archaeological, conservation research and reconstruction work was started financed by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia.
As most castles also Veliki Tabor has it’s own legend!
The legend of Veronika from Desinić
The young Frederik, son of the powerful Count Herman II of Celje, often went horseback riding across his father’s estate, and here he saw a beautiful golden-haired maiden by the name of Veronika. They fell in love, which did not please father Herman II, and Frederik and Veronika eloped to the town of Frederikštajn near Kočevje in current Slovenia, where they secretly married. When the old Count Herman II learned of the marriage he dispatched an army to fetch the lovers. Frederik managed to send Veronika away, and she fled through the woods and mountains of Gorski Kotar and Mount Kalnik to the village of Sveta Margita. Frederik was caught by his father’s soldiers and imprisoned in the Celje Tower, a narrow 23 meters tall building, where he spent over four years in captivity.
The tower has since been called Frederik’s Tower. Veronika was eventually imprisoned by Herman’s soldiers in Veliki Tabor. Herman accused the unfortunate Veronika of being a witch who had cast a spell on his son. A trial was organized, which lasted two days. On the evening of the second day, the judges said: “Count, there is no blame to be laid on this girl, much less crime. The only thing is that she is very much in love with your son Frederik. However, your eminence, love has never been a sin, much less a crime. Love is one of the most beautiful human virtues! This, your eminence, completes our work.” Despite the verdict, as soon as the judges set off on their way, Count Herman issued an order to his castellan that Veronika be killed. A large vat filled with water was put up in the courtyard of Veliki Tabor, in which Veronika was drowned. Her body was built into the wall connecting the pentagonal tower to the castle entrance. Veronika’s wails can still be heard, especially during long winter nights, along with the howling of the wind…
The origin of the name Veliki Tabor for the castle is unknown but in the Hungarian language ‘Tabor’ means ‘from the camp’ and Veliki means ‘large’ in Croatian – so maybe it means ‘from the large camp’.
Inside the Castle you can visit the wine cellars, the museum with a permanent exhibition and there are also temporary exhibitions which are promoted on the website of the castle.