Friday, 22 October 2021

Interview: Wild Mushroom Hunting in Zagreb County in Autumn

October 22, 2021 – There's a riot of colour in the branches of trees right now. What better time to go mushroom hunting in Zagreb County?

Autumn in Croatia is the perfect time to explore nature. The country's mountainous regions are currently being enjoyed by walkers and hikers. In less hilly regions, people take to walking the forests and riversides. There, an eruption of colour as the trees respond to the season – red, orange, yellow, purple, brown. Autumn's colours are epic. But, they're not around forever. Catch them while you can.

One resident who is sure to take in the full range of autumn's splendor is Hrvoje Banaj. An outdoor enthusiast from near Zagreb, at weekends, he can be found exploring the forests and mountain of Medvednica, or somewhere else around Zagreb County. He's been walking the woods since he was a child, accompanied by his father, who taught Hrvoje about mushrooms.


You can collect wild mushrooms across much of Croatia. But, Hrvoje thinks mushroom hunting in Zagreb County is particularly good. Certainly, you can find a surprising bounty in the woods of Zagreb County, as TCN found out last year on a truffle hunting trip.

There are groups of wild mushroom enthusiasts in Croatia. Also, you can find some expert forest guides who know about identifying edible mushrooms in the wild. However, it's not incredibly common to come across someone in Croatia who has that knowledge and who speaks English. Therefore, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to speak with Hrvoje to ask him a little about his experience of mushroom hunting in Zagreb County.


My name is Hrvoje. I grew up in Zaprešić and I still live there. I attended university in Zagreb, where I studied German language and literature and phonetics. Also, my first course was organ playing. I'm a concert organist.

I've been hunting mushrooms since I was 5 or 6 years old. A very early age. My father was a lifelong forest engineer. So, it was a normal part of his work to go into the woods at all times of year, and discover what was there. For him too, mushrooms were a focus of interest.


He'd been going into the woods since he was 13 or 14 and learned about the different kinds of mushrooms from several older, experienced people. As an adult, he bought two detailed books about mushrooms which he learned from additionally. Of course, I read them too. There was no internet back then. We still have those books.


My dad's work was all around Zagreb and Zagreb County. Often, he would take me with him. He has been retired for a few years now. He no longer has the passion for it as he had had back in the years when he worked. But, I still go mushroom hunting in Zagreb County and I love it.

You can find lots of different kinds of mushrooms all over Croatia. I've explored the woods and picked mushrooms across much of the inland of the country.

In Zagreb County, the edible mushrooms I've personally seen are; Morels, Chicken of the Woods and all kinds of Porcini mushrooms. Also, Hedgehog mushroom – one of my favourites to eat - and all kinds of Puffballs. I saw a Giant Polypore recently too, while I was walking on Sljeme.


You find Chanterelles and Parasol mushrooms here, sometimes in large numbers. Horn of Plenty and Horse mushroom you also see a lot. Several types of Russula mushrooms grow here. I've never seen a St George's mushroom here. But, I saw and ate them in Slavonia. My father has roots there, so I've visited a lot.


Although autumn is usually associated with mushroom picking, that's actually a widespread misperception. It's true that some of the more popular and well-known wild mushrooms are most common in autumn. That's probably where this thinking comes from.

Actually, mushrooms grow all year round in Croatia. Some kinds you only usually see in the springtime. Similarly, many people believe that you have to go into forests to find mushrooms. But, some edible mushrooms in Croatia actually prefer to live in direct sunlight and you can find them at the sides of fields.


If you want to go truffle or wild mushroom hunting in Zagreb County, it's best to go with a guide. You can find out more about guides and groups from Zagreb County Tourist Board here.

You can see all the different types of edible mushrooms that grow in the wild in Croatia here.

All photos used were taken in Zagreb County and come from the private collection of Hrvoje Banaj, unless otherwise accredited

Monday, 27 September 2021

Honouring Ban Jelačić: Jelačić's Days in Zaprešić Coming in October

September 27, 2021 - In honour of Ban Jelačić, the Jelačić Days manifestation will present both this important protagonist from Croatian history as well as the town of Zaprešić.

Back during the times of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, the title of ''Ban'' was a noble title appointed by the monarch, and that person served as viceroy to the Croatian territory. Out of many people to earn the privilege, perhaps nobody is more known and loved by the Croats than Josip Jelačić.

This is particularly great for Zaprešić, a lovely town located (give or take) about 20 kilometres from Zagreb. The official day of Zapruđe is the same as Jelačić's birthday; October 16. In honour of both Zaprešić and the historic personality of Jelačić (who is buried in the town), Zapruđe is the host of Jelačić's Days.

''The central programme of this manifestation is the interactive play called ''A Moment of Memory with Ban''. The unique journey begins with the fun thematic Jelačić train that returns all visitors from the Zagreb Railway Station back to 1849 to the ranch of Ban Josip Jelačić,'' reads the Zaprešić Tourist Board website.

''The goal of Jelačić's Days manifestation is to tell the story of Ban Jelačić as one of the most important persons from Croatian history and revive the historical space of the New Jelačić Palace. With a rich cultural-educational-entertaining programme, we wish to attract as many tourists as possible to come and get better acquainted with Zaprešić,'' the Zaprešić Tourist Board site added.

The aforementioned New Jelačić Palace has been rated by the Zaprešić Tourist Board as a unique monument of cultural and historical heritage.

''Back in 1855, Ban Jelačić built the neo-Gothic chapel of St Joseph on a meadow next to the Palac, when, back in September of 1855, his nine-month-old daughter Ana suddenly died in Bohemia, her body was laid to rest in a vault inside the chapel. Later, the remains of Ban Jelačić (16th May 1859) and his brother Antun (1875) were buried inside the same chapel. When in 1991 works began on the restoration of the chapel, the remains were temporarily moved to Zagreb's famous Mirogoj, and in 1992 they were finally laid to rest in the renewed family vault,'' explains the Zaprešić Tourist Board.

This attractive tourist destination is relatively new, and TCN wrote about it in 2018.

After the aforementioned play detailing Jelačić's life, the rich programme will present an abundance of handicrafts, antiques, workshops, and agricultural products from local manufacturers.

Ban Jelačić (born on October 16 1801 in Petrovaradin, today's Novi Sad in Serbia) was most noted for suppressing the national revolution of the Hungarians in 1848 which wasn't problematic only for the Austrian crown, but for Croatian national interests too, as the Hungarians and Croats didn't really have mutual interests (quite on the contrary).

Whether celebrating Jelačić's birth or death (as TCN covered in May), Ban Jelačić remains a well-remembered person from Croatia's rich and often tumultuous history. Whether in Zaprešić or in Zagreb, whose main square named after Jelačić, he remains the beating heart of the city's daily dynamics.

Learn more about Croatian Politics and History since 1990 in our TC guide.

For more about history in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Saturday, 31 July 2021

Zaprešić Tourist Board is the First in Croatia to Join Interpret Europe Association

July 31, 2021 - The Tourist Board of the City of Zaprešić is the first tourist board in Croatia to become part of the European Association for Heritage Interpretation: Interpret Europe.

Membership approval came from the Tourist Board of the Croatian National Tourist Board, which supported the efforts and activities of the Tourist Board of Zaprešić in a different approach to destination management, reports HrTurizam. This approach is based on innovative and focused management of the experience and emotions that Zaprešić offers through its content, as well as good stories and the interpretation of heritage through deeper meaning.

The direction of protection of cultural and natural heritage through quality and different interpretations is the basis of the work of the European association Interpret Europe, which was founded in Germany in 2010. Today, it has more than 1,000 members throughout Europe, but also in as many as 57 countries around the world, of which about 50 are institutional. The Tourist Board of the city of Zaprešić is the fourth institutional member coming from Croatia, but also the first destination management organization (DMO) from these areas.

The Tourist Board of the City of Zaprešić has been intensively cooperating with the organization Interpret Europe for the last two years, and they have organized several successful pieces of training and seminars on heritage interpretation in accordance with the Interpret Europe methodology. This is exactly what prompted TZ Zaprešić to establish the "TZZ Academy", which deals with various educations and seminars in the field of tourism and creative industries. The entire work is focused on creating new stories in the destination through a different, innovative, and interesting interpretation.

"This is another valuable recognition, which from now on has marked our city on the cultural map of Europe. Zaprešić has a lot to offer in that sense, but I would certainly like to commend the young team of the Zaprešić Tourist Board who worked diligently to be recognized, presenting our historical and cultural heritage in a different, modern way", said Željko Turk, President of the Tourist Board community and the mayor of Zaprešić.

The Zaprešić Tourist Board points out that their membership is a logical sequence after the organization of education and training for heritage interpreters, but also as a pledge of successful action in experience management, which they certainly want to transfer to a higher level in cooperation with Interpret Europe.

"Our team in the Tourist Board of the city of Zaprešić with their work and activities successfully creates emotions through messages and stories and connecting with heritage at all levels. From the local population, through entities operating in tourism to visitors. We all together create new inspirations for our destination, and thus quality content", said the director of the Tourist Board of Zaprešić Toni Ganjto.

The Tourist Board of the City of Zaprešić is extremely active in several areas of activity - from the management of public tourist infrastructure; coordinating the project of seven (7) associated tourist boards from the area of ​​Zagreb County (KulTurama project); launching the project "Second Perspective" for the inclusion of people with disabilities in tourism trends, all the way to the creation of various innovative content and targeted destination management.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.

Friday, 21 May 2021

Ban Josip Jelačić Death Anniversary Commemorated This Weekend in Zaprešić

May 21, 2021 - Yesterday marked the Ban Josip Jelačić death anniversary, and the Zaprešić Tourism Board has prepared a series of activities to celebrate its most famous inhabitant.

The 162nd anniversary of the death of Ban Josip Jelačić will be marked by the Tourist Board of the City of Zaprešić on Saturday and Sunday, May 22 and 23, with a special and interesting program for all generations. 


As reports, the program that celebrates the Ban Josip Jelačić death anniversary will be held in the New Palace of Ban Jelačić, and all visitors will have the opportunity to meet the Ban, the Jelačić family, and New Palace through themed guided tours and interesting stories brought to them by costumed characters from the Ban era.

In addition to interesting walks, the Tourist Board is organizing a new fun-educational workshop for boys and girls. Through play, fun, and education, and under the watchful eye of the animators, they will spend one typical day on Ban’s estate. While the children will explore the property, parents can relax and enjoy the beautiful ambiance of the Jelačić New Palace.


Credit: Zaprešić Tourist Board

This will be an opportunity for the Tourist Board of the City of Zaprešić on Saturday, May 22, to present an educational and entertaining guide for the youngest visitors of the New Palace, as well as the project "Come to Zaprešić". And the performance of the Honorary Company of the Tie Regiment, which will present its program with horses and honor guards, is especially pleasing.

Sunday also brings a guided walk through the streets of the ‘‘City of Zaprešić Love; they also make them from the pages of the novel”, and reveals interesting details of Zaprešić's love stories. In addition to the already well-known tours of the New Courts, don't miss two new guided themed walks called "The Night When the Sky Wept for the Ban" and "Walk through the Ban's Legacy".

During the weekend of May 22 and 23, the Museum and the Tourist Information Center will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and admission to the Matija Skurjeni Museum will be free for all visitors.

On Saturday, May 22, the Tie Regiment will pay tribute to Ban Jelačić by laying wreaths and candles, and the Zaprešić Tourist Board invites all visitors to pay homage to the Ban with flowers and candles, thus expressing gratitude and respect for the great of Croatian history.

For more on travel in Croatia, follow TCN's dedicated page.