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About Oroslavje

The town of Oroslavje is located 36 km north of Zagreb, in the southern part of Croatian Zagorje, in an area bordered by Zagreb County on the south side, by the City of Zabok on the northwest side, by the Municipality of Bedekovčina and the City of Donja Stubica on the east side, and on the southeast side by the Municipality of Stubičke Toplice. It also borders the municipalities of Veliko Trgovišće and Jakovlje.

Oroslavje has 6,253 inhabitants and has had the status of a city since 1997. It includes Andraševac, Krušljevo selo, Mokrice, Slatina, and Gornje Oroslavje settlements.

The origin of the name Oroslavje

The Oroslavje area appears in historical sources from the 13th century under the name Possessio Chernech (possession of Črnec), and the name Oroslavje was first mentioned in 1474.

The name Oroslavje is most often associated with the word eagle (Croatian – orao) – a symbol of strength and freedom, but the true origin still remains unknown. Josip Matasović, in his book “Letters of Count Sermage from the Seven Years’ War,” assumes that the name Oroslavje is certainly of Hungarian origin and is connected with the words: raise, build. The name is still closest to the word eagle (orao) and is a symbol found in the emblem of Counts Vojkffy, and an obelisk with an eagle sculpture adorned the garden of Sermage Castle. A replica of that sculpture is today in Oro square. Additionally, the Hungarian word oroslan (lion) could be connected with the name Oroslavje as well, as the lion is also a motif in the emblems of the Vojković family.

History of the city

The history of Oroslavje is entwined with two castles, which were the centers of the entire economic, social, cultural, and sports activities for centuries. According to all available information, Oroslavje nobles were the first to bring tennis, fencing, horse riding, skiing, and other sports to our region. Famous artists such as Franz Liszt, Vlaho Bukovac, Bela Čikoš – Sesia, Mirko Rački, August Šenoa, Ksaver Šandor Gjalski, Antun Gustav Matoš, and others were frequent guests or even lived and worked in Oroslavje.

With the arrival of industrialization at the end of the 1930s, Oroslavje became the largest industrial center in Croatian Zagorje. Along with industrial progress, a rich social, cultural, and sports life began to develop. Also, the first textile school in the territory of the former Yugoslavia was founded in Oroslavje in 1927.

Parks and castles of Oroslavje

The history of the two castles and their owners, noble families, played an enormous part in Oroslavje’s history, leaving a significant mark on the town’s development. These are primarily the Vojković-Vojkffy, Čikulini, and Sermage families. The entire economic, social, political, and social life of Oroslavje took place around the two castles until the beginning of the 20th century. Today, unfortunately, only one castle remains – Oroslavje Donje, once owned by the Vojković-Vojkffy family, while the other, Oroslavje Gornje, burned down in 1949.

Only a few examples exist of two castles being built in such a small area, at different times, and owned by different people, such as in the town of Oroslavje.

A peculiar question is – what encouraged very respected and wealthy Croatian aristocrats to settle in Oroslavje at such challenging times as Middle Ages were, so close to the restless Turkish invader’s border? Evidently, the valley of the Krapina river played a big part in shaping the Oroslavje’s history, as the main traffic route to Austria and Vienna, a seat of the empire, passed there.

The baroque portals at the entrance to the palace parks of Oroslavje Donje and Gornje are only 300 meters away and are the endpoints of today’s inner city center.

Around the castle, in the 18th century, luxurious gardens were arranged, which followed the stylistic features of the most famous European gardens of that time, especially the one in Versailles.

The beauty of the meadows and castles attracted the great Hungarian composer Franz Liszt to stay in Oroslavje on two occasions in 1846 and hold a concert for the local audience. Other than him, that beauty drove other artists to seek inspiration for their work here. Some of them are Vlaho Bukovac, Bela Čikoš Sesija, August Šenoa, Janko Matko, and others.

The Oroslavje Gornje Castle, owned by a Sermage family, was one of the centers for social and cultural gatherings for the aristocrats of the second half of the 18th century. The castle’s owners were aristocratic families Čikulin, Sermage, and Vranyczany. We assume that the castle’s foundations were built in the 1730s by Julije Čikulin. However, there is no accurate information about it. Over the centuries, the castle was renovated several times. Its architecture had baroque features, a four-winged form with an inner courtyard and round towers. The castle had a beautiful entrance facade with a tower and a clock on top of it. It was the only castle in northwestern Croatia covered with tiles. Next to the castle was a landscaped garden modeled and inspired by the one in Versailles, with a lake and an island at the bottom of the garden.

The statues of Flora and Satyr, the only baroque statues with mythological creatures in Croatia, have been preserved in this park. The beauty of the castle and the surrounding garden attracted the famous composer Franz Liszt to visit and stay here on two occasions in 1846 and perform a concert for the local nobles.

One of the owners, Ivan Franjo Čikulin (1681-1746), had one of the richest libraries in northwestern Croatia, with the works of the greatest European lawyers, philosophers, and writers of the time. The last owner, baron Ljudevit Vranyczany, further refined the park in the romanticism and historicism style. Vranyczany was a lover of literature and fine arts, and he often hosted some of the greatest Croatian writers and painters at his castle in Oroslavje. In 1920, businessman Milan Prpić became the castle’s owner and opened a textile factory there. Unfortunately, the castle burned down in 1949.

The Oroslavje Donje Castle, which still exists today, was built at the end of the 18th century by Sigismund Vojković/Vojkffy, a royal chamberlain and commander of the guard at the Schönbrunn Castle in Vienna during the reign of Empress Maria Theresa. At the time, Zagorje experienced a wave of extraordinary creativity in the second half of the 18th century. The castle was built in the late baroque style in the shape of the letter U with a large tower leading to the castle’s courtyard. One of the castle’s main attractions is its interior vaults that preserved rare remains of Croatia’s late baroque paintings from the end of the 18th century, which contain motifs of characters from Greek and Roman mythology.

Additionally, in the castle’s main hall, you will find the only preserved example of the late-baroque-classicist stove in Croatia. At the end of the 18th century, a beautiful park was built around the castle, decorated with baroque and classicist features. At the end of the 19th century, it was reconstructed with landscape and garden architecture characteristics. Also, the park is home to many exotic trees from all around the world. Since 1897, the castle has changed several owners, and in 1920, it was bought by businessman Milan Prpić.

Parish Church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

The parish church, the former Blessed Virgin Mary chapel, was probably built in 1652 or 1653. However, it was first mentioned in historical sources in 1669. Since 1941, it has been a parish church.

The chapel was remodeled several times throughout history and got its present look at the beginning of the 20th century. The altar with the sanctuary (tabernacle) dates back to the beginning of the 18th century. Above it, there’s a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary with a silver crown. Above her, there’s an image of God the Father in the clouds. Below him is the Holy Spirit, portrayed as a dove. The entire altar is decorated with rays, spreading in all directions, with little angels and various decorations.

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