As you approach the pentagonal hilltop castle of Veliki Tabor, 57km northwest of Zagreb, what unfolds is a pleasing panorama of hills, cornfields, vineyards and forests. The Croatian aristocracy began building fortified castles in the region – to stave off the Turkish threat – in the 16th century. Veliki Tabor Castle, built on the grounds of an earlier medieval structure, dates from this period with the four semicircular towers added later.
Strategically perched on top of a hill, the golden-yellow castle-fortress has everything a medieval master could want: towers, turrets and holes in the walls for pouring tar and hot oil on the enemy. It even houses the skull of Veronika Desinić, a poor village girl who, according to local lore, was punished for her romance with the castle owner’s son and bricked up in the walls.
The rural vistas alone make a visit worthwhile, as does good traditional dining nearby. To admire the castle from a distance, grab an alfresco table at the rustic eatery Grešna Gorica.
The castle hosts the Tabor Film Festival.
There are eight daily buses from Zagreb to Desinić (62KN to 70KN, 1½ to two hours) from Monday to Saturday, and four on Sunday. You will have to walk 3km northwest to Veliki Tabor.