Ogulin – The town of fairy tales

Few weeks back I was on a business meeting in Ogulin.
Never been there before 😦 but, like many places in inner Croatia, is quite lovely and rich in history. Unfortunately, since it is not on main tourist routes, it is rarely visited and the national tourist board invests zero kuna in promotion. However, the local community is trying hard on putting this place on the tourist map for people who like hiking, biking, nice history… But also for people who are into legends and fairy tales.

Ogulin - Frankopan castle

The town of Ogulin is positioned in the very center of mainland Croatia, just between Zagreb and Rijeka. It was founded in a large valley formed by two rivers : Dobra and Zagorska Mrežnica.
Town’s history dates back to the 15th century and wars the Ottoman Turks.The exact timing of the building of the Ogulin tower has not been established. However, a document issued by Bernardin Frankopan in his town of Modruš at around 1500 A.D. mentioned the borders between Modruš and Vitunj, and this is, at the same time, the first historical mention of Ogulin.
The Castle was built around 1500 above the gorge of the River Dobra – Đula’s abyss. The founder of the town was Bernardin Frankopan, one of the mightiest noblemen of his time and the feudal master of Modruš, Plaški, Vitunj, Tounj, Zvečaj, Bosiljevo, Novigrad and Dubovac.
The castle walls surrounded the courtyard area on three sides, while on the fourth there was a large building with towers at the sides. Its military significance and the position of the town of Ogulin required a well-fortified structure.
Today, the Castle houses The County Museum founded in 1967. It exhibits several collections of various kinds: archaeology, ethnology, old armaments, the memorial room of Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić (a renowned Croatian fairy-tale author), unique collection of mountaineering exhibits, and an exhibition of the academic painter Stjepan Galetić born in Ogulin who donated 200 of his artifacts to the museum.

The old kitchen at the museum
The ethnographic collection

Ogulin is also known for witches of Klek. This mountain so inspired folk imagination that the locals created numerous ghoulish tales and legends about it. In the 17th century – the legend about the witches of Klek was first written down. This legend says that witches, fairies, and elves from all around the world gather in Klek during stormy nights. As they dance there their cries can be heard as far as Ogulin.

This was also an inspiration for most famous Croatian fairy tales writer – Ivana Brlić Mažuranić – to write her Priče iz davnine collection of stories. This book can be translated as Croatian Tales of Long Ago and it was published in 1916. In the book Mažuranić created a series of new fairy-tales, but using names and motifs from the Slavic mythology of Croats. It was this that earned her comparisons to Hans Christian Andersen and Tolkien. Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić was nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature twice: in 1931 and in 1938. She was also the first woman accepted into what is today the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts in 1937. She died in Zagreb on September 21, 1938.

Today, Ogulin is starting a wonderful tradition of shows/plays and workshops for children all based on traditional fairy tales! Every summer thousands gather here to enjoy all sorts of events and it is one of the most interesting events in Croatia!

Đula's abyss

But that’s not it! There are several more interesting places and sights in Ogulin and the most interesting is definitely the famous Đulin ponor or Jula’s abyss located in the very center of the town!
According to the legend, a young girl Đula lived in Ogulin in 16th century and was supposed to merry an old nobleman against her will. At the same time, a young and handsome military commander Milan Juraić came to Ogulin and the two fell in love at the first sight. Unfortunately, Milan died in the wars with Turks shortly after and Đula threw herself in the abyss of Dobra river. Since that day, the abyss has her name…
It is also the longest cave system in Croatia! Nearly 16 400 meters of caves, passages, siphons, lakes… everything is bellow Ogulin make it a very interesting caving destination as well.

Cave Medvedica just across the street from the castle

This country is full with all sorts of amazing places and people!
Definitely high on my list are other great fortress in Karlovac region and, some day, a visit to Klek.

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