After we have already presented Zagreb to you in detail in an article, today we are going to the border area of Croatia and Slovenia. Samobor today has almost 40,000 inhabitants (in the core town there are almost 20,000) and is located only about 30 km west of the Croatian capital on the edge of the nature park Žumberak-Samoborsko gorje. In this picturesque landscape a town was founded already in the Middle Ages, which was mentioned in a document for the first time in 1242.
From 1699 the village was part of the Habsburg Empire and later, as part of the Hungarian Empire, it was called Szamobor. Today Samobor is known mainly for its numerous culinary specialties and its carnival. In this article we will take you with us and introduce you to the most beautiful Samobor sights, show you what a Kremšnita is and what Jackie Chan did at the castle.
Trg Kralja Tomislava
There is no way around Trg Kralja Tomislava (“King Tomislav Square”) in Samobor and it is the perfect starting point for your exploration of the Samobor sights. All baroque buildings on the long square are protected monuments. How present the influence of the German population was here, you can still see today, when Samoborians affectionately call it the square “plac”. Every building can look back on a long history. It’s great that the city has placed plaques on the houses here, which also provide information in English about the individual buildings. You can look for the house of Ljubica (see below). Tip: It is yellow. Apart from that, you will find several restaurants and the local tourist information, where you can get many tips for your visit to Samobor.
A fountain to come back
In the middle of the square there is a fountain, which is surrounded by a beautiful legend: Whoever drinks the water from the fountain once will always return to Samobor, they say here. No wonder that the townspeople like to show the fountain to guests! It is also called “Two Dragons” in the town, because the water here comes out of two dragon-shaped taps.
Not a paradise for pigeons
By the way, the square is pigeon-free! Anyone who has ever been to Trg bana Josipa Jelačića in Zagreb, which makes even the Piazza del Duomo in Milan green with envy in terms of the number of pigeon, knows that this is truly not a matter of course in Croatia.
Off to Venice
Speaking of Italy, from the market square you’ll be in Venice in no time, at least in Little Venice, as the area on the banks of the leisurely flowing Gradna is called.
Here a beautiful wooden bridge crosses the water, which is one of the most popular photo motifs in Samobor. It is not known exactly when it was built, but it will take you to the part of the town south of the Gradna River in no time. Its appearance reminded me a bit of an alpine hut, which is not as far-fetched as it may sound at first, given the town’s former affiliation with the Austro-Hungarian Empire.
If you walk a little to the east on the northern bank of the Gradna, you will come to Galerija Prica. It commemorates Zlatko Prica, who saw the light of day in 1916 in Pécs, Hungary. The Croatian painter was a professor at the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb and worked with numerous techniques. Today you can see for yourself the rich creative power of the painter through numerous paintings, drawings, frescoes and illustrations, including his famous Samobor cycle.
There are also numerous works by photographer Vesna Prica, who unfortunately did not survive her father, who initiated the collection after her death in 1996 (he himself died in 2003). The square in front of the summer is always used for an open-air cinema on Thursdays in the summer, and in the winter you can enjoy an ice skating rink here.
Anastasia Church (Crkva sv. Anastazija)
One of the most beautiful Sambor sights is the church not far from Trg Kralja Tomislava. It was built in the 17th century in Baroque style and since then it has been the most important church in the town. Over time, the only church in northern Croatia dedicated to St. Anastasia has been repeatedly rebuilt, and it is currently being restored. Its pastel yellow exterior makes an interesting contrast to the snow-white interior.
The Croatian Romeo and Juliet
Right next to the church there is a small cemetery. Here Julijana (Ljublica) Cantilly has found her final resting place. The famous poet Stanko Vraz is said to have met her in Samobor in the 19th century and immediately fell in love with her. He subsequently wrote numerous love poems, which are among the most beautiful romantic works in the history of Croatian literature. Ljubica also fell in love with the poor poet, but due to her rich background, the two could not marry and Ljubica had to marry a rich merchant from Ljubljana, which is why the two are referred to here as the Croatian Romeo and Juliet story.
Back at the marketplace, this time we cross the bridge to the south directly to the Samobor City Museum. It is housed in an old building from the late 17th century. After the city had already established its own museum at the end of the 19th century, it was moved here after the Second World War. And in this Samobor sight, visitors can’t help but to be amazed: archaeological finds from the Iron Age, Roman coins, everyday objects from the Middle Ages – you can easily spend two hours here without getting bored!
Also on display is the piano by Ferdo Livadić. The composer set to music, among others, the poem “Još Hrvatska ni propala” (“Croatia is not yet lost”) by Ljudevit Gaj. The work was composed in Samobor and became the unofficial anthem of the Illyrian movement during the time before the revolution of 1848/1849. Also among the exhibits are a kiln made of Meissen porcelain and a model of the castle (see below) showing the site in the 17th century. Also great is the Etno Kuća (“ethno hut”), which is attached to the museum. Here you can see what life was like in the villages in the area in the 19th century.
Great is also the Etno kuća (“ethno hut”), which is attached to the museum. Here you can see what life was like in the villages of the area in the 19th century.
Perched high above the town on Tepec Hill stands perhaps the most significant of all Samobor sights, the once mighty castle of the same name. It was built in the 13th century within only four years and was intended to protect the citizens of the town from attacks.
The castle would be a bit more complete today had it not been demolished after a fire to build houses in the city. The view from up here is spectacular and it’s a lot of fun to walk through the ruins of the complex. By the way, parts of the Jackie Chan movie “Armour of God” were filmed here in 1986. Unfortunately, Chan injured his head so badly during filming that his hearing is impaired to this day.
But one of the most beautiful things about the castle is its ascent from Samobor. From the town museum, you first walk through a park and then to an open-air swimming pool. Although Samobor is not located by the sea, you can swim here – and enjoy the view of the castle ruins! After that, there is an easy section through a shady forest before you reach the castle, but you should allow about half an hour from the center.
Lookout tower Vidikovec Tepec
A bit higher than the castle is the lookout tower Vidikovec Tepec. It is 14 meters high and for the ascent you should be free from giddiness in any case. But you will be rewarded with a sensational view of the Sambor sights. In good weather you can even see Zagreb in the distance.
Eating and drinking in Samobor
Although Samobor is not very big, there are many good cafes, restaurants and pubs where you can stop. The city is even known as a culinary paradise! After visiting the Samobor sights, you will be hungry, so we will introduce you to some of Samobor’s specialties and then give you some gastronomic recommendations.
Specialties from Samobor
And we start directly with dessert, because that’s what Samobor is mainly known for today. Kremšnita (“cream slice”) is known all over the country, but only in its homeland Samobor here it is brought to the plate so wonderfully fluffy. The recipes are closely guarded, but they all have in common a yellow color of the creme, framed by a thin layer of dough and sprinkled with powdered sugar.
For such a dessert, you probably need a proper base first. This is where the Samoborski cutlet comes in handy. Now the cutlet is certainly not an invention from Samobor, but here it is served with a delicious garlic sauce under this name, the specialty is known throughout Croatia. Meat fans in the city will also enjoy the Samobor salami. Only the best pork is used in its production, and the salami here is very mild. The salami is so popular in the city that there is even its own salami festival, the Salamijada! The mustard produced here, the muštarda , is also a good accompaniment to a snack. Compared to the mild salami, however, the Samobor mustard is quite fiery!
A Bermet as an aperitif
Something to wash the mustard down with, for example, the local specialty Bermet could become handy. It’s not easy to describe the taste of this drink, which is somewhere between sweet and bitter in the finish. The drink is made from red wine and fruits and herbs. You can get a particularly tasty Bermet at the Philipecz company on Stražnička ul. 1a, where you can taste and of course buy Bermet in a rustic wine cellar, delicious mustard is also available here. By the way, it was long believed that Bermet came to Samobor from Napoleon’s troops, before it was discovered that there was no comparable drink in France and it was probably invented here by a pharmacist.
Eating an drinking in Samobor
- Scout,Ul. Josipa Kompare 5. A pub can hardly be more cozy than this Irish pub. Here you sit in a kind of small wooden hut and can enjoy one of the many beers from all over the world that are served here.
- Samoborska Pivovarna Razum, Ul. Matije Gupca 2. The way from the old town to the east of Samobor is worth it, because here several beers named after old legends are brewed, which are tapped directly from the tank and are very cheap. If you want, you can also take them in 1-liter bottles.
- Gradna, Mlinksa ul. Very nice is also this café with balcony directly above the Gradna river, which however does not offer food.
Shopping in Samobor
- Srčeko, Ul. Svete Ane 1b. In this small store you can buy handmade souvenirs, especially small hearts made of glass, which you can have individually engraved – a great souvenir!
- There is a market in Samobor every day! Traders from the surrounding area offer their goods on Tržnica northeast of Trg Kralja Tomislava until 5 pm, on Sundays only until 1 pm.
Samobor Sights Book Tips
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- Bingel, Markus (Author)
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How did you like our article about Samobor sightseeing? And what place should we visit next for you? Feel free to leave us a comment!