Medvedgrad: Renovated Fortress to Boast Pantry with 13th Century Scents!

By 16 February 2020

Fancy a coffee in the basement of the fort and "stealing" a recipe from a medieval pantry, seeing three different museums, and visiting the top of the southern part of Medvednica and enjoying a breathtaking view of the Croatian metropolis, Zagreb? At the end of this year, visitors to the legendary Medvedgrad fortress will be able to enjoy all of the above. The beautiful Medvedgrad fortress was built in the 13th century to defend against Tatar attacks, and has never been conquered.

As Vecernji list/Mateja Jezovita writes on the 15th of February, 2020, construction work on the Medvedgrad fortress' third refurbishment, which has been going on since back in November 2018, is currently in its completion phase and in three weeks, everything will be ready for the application for an operational permit. After that, work on landscaping and the museum exhibits will begin, which will run through November. If everything goes according to plan, the official opening of the Medvedgrad fortress will be in December 2020.

The southern tower will house a permanent exhibition called: "In the Kingdom of the Ancient Forests" through which visitors will be able to find out what plant and animal species can be found on Medvednica, such as lynx, deer, wild cats and oak trees. The star will be a small palace where a second exhibition will be housed: ''The Secret of the Ancient Mountain.''

That exhibition will portray the myths and legends of Medvednica through motifs from the forest, such as fairies. In addition, installations called the "Shadow Theatre" will be installed. With a combination of sound, light and shadows, as well as a smoky effect in the room, a costumed guide will introduce visitors to folk tales, such as the one about the so-called Black Queen. The whole experience will be complemented by a pantry where you can see medieval objects and recipes, as well as smell them as if they came directly into the present day from the 13th century. The Grand Palace, however, will have its own "Enchanted History" which will be a time machine through the past of the mountains and Medvedgrad, which has been ruled by more than 150 different masters.

''This part of the Medvedgrad fortress will also include a restaurant, an administrative office and a hall that can be used to hold professional meetings, presentations and educational workshops. Old tiles were specially commissioned 35 years ago, so the requirement was that the same ones should be placed again despite the fact that they are no longer on the market.

''In the end, we found some that are very similar,'' explained the director of Medvednica Nature Park, Marina Popijac.

''Since Medvedgrad is not connected to the water supply, rainwater will be used. That's why we've installed a flushing system,'' said Josip Kujek, the construction manager. They had a big problem, he added, with waterproofing the wall in that room because they couldn't dig outside without damaging the archaeological site. A solution was found in injection, which means that through the special openings on the inside, they released a resin that filled the holes on the outside. As for the smaller palace, that was also a particular challenge.

''The interior was in the worst condition possible, it was completely shabby. We removed the old ceiling panels and installed new ones, and painted and varnished the wooden structure. There used to be land here, and now we have put up panels that mimic the former "peasant" floor,'' said Kujek.

Any material used in the restoration had to be approved by the appropriate institution in order to maintain its original appearance.

''Everything should retain its original appearance. So we tried out dozens of different grout fillings that differed only in their hues until we found the most similar one, which was almost identical to the one of the past. All the walls have been restored, and so far 4,000 square metres have been "drained" explained Marina Popijac and Josip Kujek.

The construction part of the Medvedgrad fortress is now nearing completion, with minor repairs expected over the next few months, and a plan that will include, among other things, the introduction of new trails that will allow pedestrians to walk through and around the fortress. The list also includes the purchase of two electric cars to transport visitors from Zagreb to Medvednica, as well as eight electric bicycles that can be rented.

Video surveillance is yet to be installed, which, according to the director of the Nature Park, will be an important novelty in Medvedgrad.

"We could have used some cameras just a few weeks ago as some vandals broke in and smashed a forklift truck and glass. Fortunately, the Homeland Altar, as it isn't being restored, was protected by pallets and tarpaulins during the works, which now serve as a "defense" against devastation,'' said the director of the Medvednica Nature Park, Marina Popijac.

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