WHAT WE SEE ON OUR TOUR
On this tour, we will learn more about the traditional crafts and local wines of Zagorje which is a picturesque region north of Zagreb. We drive around the Medvednica mountain (literal translation of Zagorje region is „a region behind the hill“). This area is known for its beautiful castles, rolling hills covered in vineyards and popular health spas.
We have roughly an hour drive to our first stop – the pilgramage place of Marija Bistrica. Marija Bistrica has an old Marian shrine of the Black Madonna which is a place of pilgrimage and visited by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims every year. On 3 October 1998, Pope John Paul II visited Marija Bistrica and beatified Croatian Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac in front of a crowd of 500,000 Croatians. We will visit the basilica shortly and have a coffee break just in front of the church.
We will then pay a visit to the Mahmet candle and gingerbread shop just accross the square. This is also the oldest house in Marija Bistrica. Gingerbread is a colorfully decorated cookie made from honey-dough. Traditionally, it is bright red and comes in various forms and sizes. Small gingerbread pieces (hearts, babies, birds, hooves, wreaths, horses) are favorite decorations on Christmas trees in homes in Croatia and the larger ones are intended for giving as presents to the loved ones on special occasions. Gingerbread and candle making as well as mead production is an old craft which dates back to the 13th century. Gingerbread making tradition was made part of UNESCO-s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010. We will learn about different products and souvenirs produced by the Mahmet family and will have the opportunity to buy some to take home.
Our next stop is at Tugonica village, near Marija Bistrica, to visit some of the traditional wooden toymakers. Villagers along the pilgrimage route to the Marian shrine in Marija Bistrica developed a technique for traditional manufacturing of children's wooden toys that has now been handed down for generations. The men in the family take soft willow, lime, beech and maple wood from the region and dry, hew, cut and carve it by using traditional tools. Women then apply ecologically-friendly paint in floral or geometric patterns, painting „from imagination“. The whistles, tamburines, horses, cars, tiny furniture and flapping birds produced today are almost identical to those made more than a century ago – though no two toys are precisely the same, thanks to the handcrafted production process. We will visit local toymaker/s that produces wooden instruments, miniature furniture and other colorful toys.
Our next stop is at Tomo Kovačić's pottery workshop. Tomo is a local potter from Globočec village. He is the third generation in his family cherishing this ancient craft. Pottery is the art of making pots and similar objects from clay. Tomo uses the potter's wheel and his skillful hands to make flower pots, baking dishes, small goblets but also musical instruments from baked clay. Those are various reeds shaped as birds which by blowing into the holes make sounds like a nightingale or some other song-bird. You will have a chance to see the pottery making demonstration on a potter's wheel and buy souvenirs at Tomo's small pottery shop.
After being introduced to different Zagorje crafts, it is time to make a short stop to taste some Zagorje wines and a typical Zagorje snack. We will stop at a small hamlet of Klimen known for many traditional wooden kliets (wooden shacks for shelter, storing tools and tasting wines) and have a relaxed break.
After the break, a little bit about the history of this area – we stop at the Konjscina Renaissance castle and hear the story of the battle against the Ottomans that happened here 500 years ago.
For those who like hiking, we will take a relaxing 40 minute walk along the fairy tale path by the stream, which will take us to the unusual bridge made recently according to the Leonardo Da Vinci's design. Right next to the bridge is a restored mill where we have another break and try some more of the local wine. Those who don't feel like walking, will be transported here by our vehicle.
Our last stop is at Bolfan winery in adjacent Hrascina municipality where we'll be taken on a tour of the winery and enjoy delicous lunch and wine tasting.
Return trip to Zagreb (40 min drive), arrival in the early evening.
Prepare for an advanture packed day that you will cherish in your memory for a long time!