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Medvedgrad is a medieval fortified town.

Medvedgrad Guards One of Croatia’s Darkest Legends

Medvedgrad and The Legend of The Black Queen.

“Break, hell, I give you Medvedgrad… and myself!” is a famous phrase with which, according to centuries-old beliefs, the notorious ruler of this mediaeval fortress, Barbara Celjska (Barbara of Celje or Cilli), tried to save herself from the Turks. Due to her evil and dark soul, none of the people wanted to help her and she turned to the devil, and Medvedgrad was saved only when she offered her own life. Nobody grieved too much for the Black Queen…

History says that she was the evilest out of the 107 rulers who held court at this intriguing fortress situated on the southwest slope of Medvednica. It is considered to be one of the most interesting mediaeval monuments in the Zagreb region and amongst the largest of Croatian fortresses.

It was built in the 13th century after the Tartar invasion with the aim to defend Kaptol and the bishop’s properties. It was heavily damaged in an earthquake in 1590, when it became abandoned, and at the end of the 1970s, the restoration of this unique old town, where between its secret walls and insufficiently explored corridors hides somewhat dark and mysterious stories from Zagreb’s rich past, finally began.

Beautiful and wicked Black Queen

The best known among them is the one about the Black Queen. Numerous myths and legendsspeak of how she was enchantingly beautiful, but cold and cruel-hearted. She always wore black, she incited fear and trepidation in the people and her name was rarely mentioned.The generations passed down the stories about how she threw her lovers from the walls and lowered down a cage with a wild boar, whilst her greatest pet, a large black raven, which stood on her shoulder, attacked and killed everyone who annoyed her with its claws and beak. She had an insatiable hunger for power, led a debauched life and committed bloody atrocities, associated with magic, alchemy and witchcraft, and although only folklore tradition, the many stories connected with the controversial and cruel queen, still live on today among the people of Zagreb.

Medvedgrad's Black Queen legends

According to one legend, she died throwing herself in fear down the ramparts whilst running in front of some thirsty dogs, which wanted to drink from her well. However, she allowed that to no one. When every one of the wells in the surroundings, besides hers, dried up, the thirsty villagers pleaded her for refreshment. When she refused them, they travelled to the dangerous forest where a spring instantly was created, and at the same time the one in Medvedgrad dried up. Curiously the newly-created well, was given the title ‘The Queen’s’.

Another story says how the mythical queen passed away from the plague, and a third, at the hands of the Devil, whom she wanted to cheat by asking for help in defending Medvedgrad. With a curse she was turned into a serpent queen and from then on she roams the underground corridors of the old town with her subjects and faithfully guards her valuable treasure.

However true this is, one thing is sure, this renowned character remained woven in Zagreb’s past as the most notorious mythical inhabitant of Zagreb. Her mysterious traces on Medvedgrad intrigue many historians, lovers of the past, as well as curious tourists, who between the walls of one of Croatia’s best-preserved fortresses, look for answers and try to verify the authenticity behind the interesting legends.

The legend of The Black Queen doesn’t end here. Besides her obscene behaviour and well know cruelty, witchcraft and feeding on the blood of humans were attributed to her, so the legend of the cruel Black Queen, that appears at night in nearby city Samobor, as as vampyress – still lives on. Some sources acknowledge

The Black Queen as the first European vampyress, as opposed to Eržebet Bathory, or Elisabeth Bathory, unscrupulous ruler, politician and Hungarian “Bloody Countess”. No matter if they were mentioned in the context of political intrigues, vampire tales or legends, both, The Black Queen and Elisabeth Bathory were historical characters and are used as a basis of numerous vampire novels and movies.

The search for the Medvedgrad secret treasure

The alleged buried treasure which is hidden in the secret chambers under Medvedgrad has never been found. It is believed to be hidden in the underground world of Kaptol or Gradec, in corridors which connect Medvedgrad with the Church of St. Mark and St. Mark’s Square. He who dares to head into the unexplored and enchanted corridors, may perhaps come across the wandering queen. All that would need to be done is to kiss her, to remove the curse, change her from a snake back into a beauty and all the riches and treasures of Medvedgrad will belong to him…

Medvedgrad's interesting story

Although it would be difficult for somebody to believe the truthfulness of these traditions, there is no reason not to proceed with the investigation of this famous Croatian fortress, its magnificent ramparts and mysterious mediaeval corridors. From it there extends a unique and beautiful view of Zagreb, a special experience at night, whilst art lovers will be astonished by the early gothic chapels of St. Phillip and St. Jacob and the monument of fallen Croatian soldiers in the Homeland War – the Homeland Altar.

Foto: www.pp-medvednica.hr

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