Only a few dozen kilometers away from Varaždin and Zagreb there is a place called Bednja - the uniquely appealing area, gently protected by a ring of Zagorje hills. The playful landscape with plenty of charming villages is truly delightful; it doesn’t matter if you’re entering the County by road, bike trail, or feeling adventurous and flying in with paraglider from Ravna Gora. Regardless the angle of approach, Bednja leaves a strong impression. Thanks to the centuries of peaceful and protected position, the rich, authentic and archaic culture (language, dress, customs, and traditional building) has been preserved. So, it is no wonder a fort named Dragon Rock was built right here in the 13th century, and over the centuries, it has grown into a fairy tale castle Trakošćan, thanks to the loving dedication of its owners.
Ravna gora (686 m), located in the upper basin of the river Bednja, is considered to be the last branch of the Alps. It is a favorite place for weekenders, and mountain lodges there make a great destination point for a picnic. You can opt for hiking, paragliding or rock-climbing in area of Velike pećine / Great Caves; take your pick according to your energy resources. At Ravna Gora, there are two paragliding take off sites.
Beautiful landscapes and landing sites in Cvetlin make Ravna Gora the most attractive location for paragliding in this part of Croatia. National and European competitions in paragliding are regularly held here.
Belvedere on Ravna Gora offers a breathtaking view of the Trakošćan castle, and several footpaths are leading toward it from here. On the path to the castle, small courtyards of Bednja, crucifixes along the road and early baroque chapel Sv. Tri kralja, will tell you a fascinating story of deep religiosity of local people. At about halfway, in the village of Križišće, do not miss a chance to stop by bell-ringer of Bednja - Ivan Kušenić, already well known to mountaineers for his wine, best in this area, and the offer of various tasty local dishes.
Bednja ... and the cottage was made of sugary hearts and chocolate bars...
The most beautiful little piece of the Earth
Mmmm... sausages, meat delicacies, cottage cheese and cream, eggs, butter, bread and fine white coffee, then turkey with mlinci - local side dish similar to dumplings and crisp baked štrukli - a truly delicious indigenous dish ... Domestic food and good wine are always a winning combination for a joyful gathering. Also, for a stroll through the hills of Bednja, Hotel Trakošćan will prepare the Pinklec (old-fashioned version of food to go) for you.
This is exactly the image that old wooden houses typical for Zagorje, with little hearts on wooden shutters, flowers in cute pots on windowsills and thatched roofs, provide. Rural architecture elements, typical for Zagorje can be seen, in their original form throughout 285 villages of this region. The most beautiful little piece of the Earth also has its own distinctive voice. Bednja dialect is one of the most unusual and melodic local dialects, understandable only to inhabitants of this region. It’s been proclaimed Croatian intangible cultural heritage, just like the gorgeous Bednja wedding ceremony, which is being held in local dialect and is a true representation of customs that have taken place during the wedding and marriage ceremony in this area.
Take a deeep breath ... and listen to your body and soul
Beside unique language, deep religious beliefs also connect people of this region. On Mass days and holidays they get together in the Church of St. Mary (in town of Bednja). Although the building dates from the 14th century, in the 19th century it got its present look. The curiosity of the church is the organ, made by master Moscatelli, known representative of the Italian school, opposed to the German organ masters that are mainly found in northern Croatia. The church is the final resting place of the Drašković family since 16th century. On top of the hill Jamno, on the Slovenian border, St. Augustine and St. Magdalena chapels. In late August, on the day of St. Augustine, local residents from both side of the border get together to share the warmth of faith. Surroundings of the fairy tale castle Trakošćan is designed as a landscape park where indigenous and exotic species of trees, lake and meadows make valuable horticultural entity.
If you visit in the fall, you will witness yet another peculiarity of this region, so-called vegetation twist. The evergreen and deciduous trees have swapped places, so the vivid autumn colors adorn the tops of the hills, while the dark conifers predominate at the foot by the lake. A mile-long lake is surrounded by four kilometer long footpath.
Freshen up having a drink on the terrace by the lake, ride a pedal boat or, depending on the company, go for a romantic stroll along the love trails of the past.