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Varazdin

From Academic Kids

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Varaždin (Hungarian: Varasd, German: Warasdin) is a city in northwestern Croatia, 81 km north of Zagreb on the highway A4. With a population of 49,075 (2001), the centre of Varaždin county is located near the Drava river, at 46:18:02N Lat. and 16:20:06E Long.. It's mainly known for its baroque buildings and textile industy.

Position of Varaždin within Croatia
Contents

History

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City Hall in Varaždin (photo: Igor Kauzlarić

The first written reference to Varaždin was in 1181, when King Bela 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 Andrija 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 (Croatian: Ivanovci) came to Varaždin, where they built the church and a monastery.

At the end of the 14th century the Varaždin fortress passed into the hands of the Earls of Celje. Over the following centuries Varaždin had several owners, the most influential being Beatrice Frankopan, Margrave Juraj 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 the Croatia. It hosted the Croatian Sabor and the Royal Croatian Council founded by Empress Maria Theresa.

The periods of the reformation and the counter-reformation had a great influence on the 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 Croatian administrative centre. The fire of 1776 destroyed most of the town, resulting in the administrative institutions moving back to Zagreb.

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 war for Croatian 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.

Heritage

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The Cathedral and the former Gymnasium in Varaždin (photo: Igor Kauzlarić)

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

The Old City (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 Ghotic architecture in Croatia, were added. Today it houses the Town Museum (http://www.mdc.hr/varazdin/eng/home.html).

The Old and Contemporary Masters Gallery (http://www.mdc.hr/varazdin/eng/galerija.html) is located in the Sermage Palace, built in the rococo style in 1750.

In 1523, Count Juraj 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 Viennese architect Herman Helmer.

A baroque-music festival has been held annually in Varaždin since 1973 (Baroque Evenings (http://www.vbv.hr/?L=e)), 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.

Economy

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 financial and banking sector is also well developed, with the only Croatian OTC Stock Exchange (http://www.vtv.hr). Further economic development has been encouraged with the creation of a free investment zone (http://www.investment-in-croatia.com/eng/about.html).

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