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Varaždin ( , , ) is a city in north Croatiamarker, north of Zagrebmarker on the highway A4. City population is 41,434 on , urban area population (with: Črnec Biškupečki, Donji Kućan, Gojanec, Gornji Kućan, Hrašćica, Jalkovec, Kućan Marof, Poljana Biškupečka and Zbelava) is 49,075 on , and the metro area population (with municipality: Beretinec, Gornji Kneginec, Jalžabet, Sračinec, Sveti Ilija, Trnovec Bartolovečki and Vidovec) is 80,991 on (2001). The centre of Varaždin countymarker is located near the Drava river, at . It's mainly known for its baroque buildings, textile, food and IT industry.


Varaždin in 1668.
Varaždin's Croatian National Theater.
View of the Theater from the Park.

The first written reference to Varaždin, whose historical name is Garestin, was on 20 August 1181, when King Béla III mentioned the nearby thermal springs (Varaždinske Toplice) in a legal document.

Varaždin was declared a free royal borough in 1209 by the Hungarian-Croatian King Andrew II. The town became the economic and military centre of northern Croatia. Due to Turkish raids, the town was structured defensively around the old fortress, and acquired the shape of a typical medieval Wasserburg. In the early 13th century, the Knights Hospitaller ( ) came to Varaždin, where they built the church and a monastery.

At the end of the 14th century, Varaždin fortress passed to the hands of the Counts of Celjemarker. Over the following centuries Varaždin had several owners, the most influential being Beatrice Frankopan, Margrave Georg of Brandenburg, who built the town hall; the last was Baron Ivan Ungnad, who reinforced the existing fortification. At the end of the 16th century Count Toma Bakač Erdödy became its owner, assuming the hereditary position of Varaždin prefects (župan), and the fortress remained in the ownership of the Erdödy family until 1925.

In 1756, the Ban Franjo Nadasdy chose Varaždin as his official residence, and Varaždin became the capital of all of Croatia. It hosted the Croatian Sabormarker and the Royal Croatian Council founded by Empress Maria Theresa.

The periods of the Reformation and the counter-reformation had a great influence on Varaždin. With the arrival of the Jesuits, the school (gymnasium) and the convent were founded, and churches and monasteries were built in the baroque style. In the 18th century Varaždin was the seat of many Croatian noblemen, and in 1756 it became the Croatianmarker administrative centre. The fire of 1776 destroyed most of the town, resulting in the administrative institutions moving back to Zagrebmarker.

By the 19th century Varaždin had been completely rebuilt and expanded, with flourishing crafts and trade, and later the manufacture of silk and bricks. The theatre, music school, and fire department were founded.

In the 20th century Varaždin developed into the industrial centre of Northwestern Croatia. The textile manufacturer Tivar was founded in 1918. In the Croatian War of Independence, 1991, Varaždin suffered directly for only for a few days, because the huge Yugoslav People's Army base quickly surrendered, resulting in a minimal number of casualties, and providing weapons (worth $600m) for the Croatian army.


Varaždin, with its unique monuments and artistic heritage, represents the best preserved and richest urban complex in continental Croatia.

The Old Town (fortress) is a beautiful example of medieval defensive buildings. Construction began in the 14th century, and in the following century the rounded towers, typical of Gothic architecture in Croatia, were added. Today it houses the Town Museum. The fortress is depicted on the reverse of the Croatian 5 kuna banknote, issued in 1993 and 2001.

The Old and Contemporary Masters Gallery is located in the Sermage Palace, built in the rococo style in 1750.

In 1523, Margrave Georg of Brandenburg built the town hall in late baroque style, with the Varaždin coat of arms at the foot of the tower, and it has continued in its function until the present day. There is a guard-changing ceremony every Saturday.

Varaždin's Cathedral, a former Jesuit church, was built in 1647, and is distinguished by its baroque entrance, eighteenth-century altar, and paintings.

There are many baroque and rococo palaces and houses in the town. Worth particular mention is Varaždin's Croatian National Theatre, built in 1873 and designed by the famous Viennesemarker architects Herman Helmer and Ferdinand Fellner.

A baroque-music festival has been held annually in Varaždin since 1971 ( Baroque Evenings), and attracts some of the finest musicians and their fans from Croatia and the world. Recommended to visitors is also the historical street festival Špancir fest every September.

The city features its old city guard, named Purgari, in various city ceremonies as well as the weekly ceremony of the 'change of the guards' in front of the city hall. Additionally, Varaždin police officers patrol on bicycles in the warmer months.

The Old Town (Stari Grad)

Churches and Monasteries

Varaždin Castle in the Old Town.
Varaždin's Cathedral.
Herzer Palace.

  • Parish Church of St. Nicholas
  • Jesuit Monastery and the Church of St. Mary, today the Cathedral
  • Franciscan Monastery and the Church of St. John the Baptist
  • Ursuline Monastery and the Church of the Nativity
  • Capuchin Monastery and the Church of the Holy Trinity
  • Chapel of St. Florian
  • Chapel of St. Vitus
  • Chapel of St. Fabian and Sebastian
  • Chapel of St. Rochus
  • Orthodox Church of St. George

Baroque Palaces

  • Town Hall
  • Bužan Palace
  • Drašković Palace
  • Eggersdorfer Palace
  • Erdödy Palace
  • Erdödy-Oršić Palace
  • Herzer Palace
  • Hinterholzer Palace
  • Janković Palace
  • Keglević Palace
  • Palace of the Varaždin County
  • Palace of the Zagreb Kaptol
  • Patačić Palace
  • Patačić-Puttar Palace
  • Petković Palace
  • Prašinski-Sermage Palace
  • Pauline Mansion


Varaždin is one of the few Croatian cities whose industry did not directly suffer from the war in 1991. Besides textile giant Varteks, it also has nationally important food (Vindija), metal, and construction industries. The Information Technology and financial and banking sector as are well developed. Further economic development has been encouraged with the creation of a free investment zone.


Railway station.
The city of Varaždin is easily accessible by major roads from all sides. The road infrastructure is good and the main highway connection is A4, connecting the Hungary border-crossing point in Goričanmarker with Zagrebmarker, as well as the coast of the Adriatic Seamarker via A1/A6. A2 is also accessible through the Zagorje region. In addition to the highways, there is also an east-west state route connecting the city to the Slovenian border, and Koprivnicamarker, Osijekmarker and the east part of Croatiamarker. The city is connected to the suburbs and villages surrounding it with a public transportation system of buses. The city also has a train and bus station, which are both located about a 10 minute walk from the center. The trains are mainly used for cargo, due to the lack of investment in the country's train infrastructure. Varaždin's bus service is of high quality and use, it offers regular service to many local, domestic and international routes, as well as many additional seasonal routes to the Adriatic Seamarker. There is also taxi service available on-call which is situated by the bus station. In the outskirts of the city there is also a small recreational airport, used mainly for sightseeing and farming purposes.


Streets of Varaždin.
Today Varaždin is a very popular destination for the summer holidays. In the summer time, actions are taken to attract hundreds of thousands of tourists that come to Varaždin and its surroundings for the holidays. The city has numerous areas of interests ranging from cultural areas (reflected by many museums, galleries and theaters in the area), shopping centers in the downtown core, various sports and recreation facilities, also a rich history in cuisine. The close of the Varaždin Touristic Season is brought down by two annual festivals. The annual Špancir Fest begins at the end of August and ends in September (lasts for 10 days). At this time the city welcomes artists, street performers, musicians and vendors for what is called 'the street walking festival.' Last year the there were over a 100,000 visitors in the city for the event. To kick off the fall, the city welcomes world famous classical musicians in Varazdin's Baroque Evenings festival (Varaždinske Barokne Večeri). Since 1971 the festival has been held to honor baroque music and its culture which holds a special place in Varaždin's identity.Varaždin is also the host of the "Radar festival", in wich he hosts concerts at the end of summer. He has already hosted concerts starting Bob Dylan, Carlos Santana, The Animals, Manic Steet Preachers, Solomon Burke & many more.


Varaždin is a city of numerous professional and semi-professional sports clubs. Varaždin will also be one of the hosts of the 2009 World Men's Handball Championship which will be held in Croatia. The games will be held in a brand new yet to be named facility located near the Drava River.


Varaždin has a rich and developed system of education, especially for a city of its size. It has seven elementary schools, 10 high schools (2 public gymnasiums, 2 private gymnasiums, trade schools, and other specialized high schools for various paths), 4 higher schools (equivalent to college) and 2 faculties (Faculty of Organization and Information Technology and Geotechnical faculty) that are part of the University of Zagrebmarker.

Notable people

Branko Ivanković.
Vjekoslav Klaić.
Ksaver Sandor Gjalski.

This list contains some of the notable people who were either born in Varaždin, lived in the city for a longer time or were in some significant way related to it.

International relations

Twin towns — Sister cities

Varaždin is twinned with:


External links

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