Zagreb, the capital city of Croatia, is proud of having a protected area on its doorstep – Medvednica Nature Park. There are not many capitals with this privilege.
A green Medvednica mountain with its fortress Medvedgrad and 1.030 meter high peak Sljeme is watching over Zagreb. It is just half an hour from the city center away.
The nature park is heavily forested. The diversity of forests on Medvednica is incredible. It resulted in as many as eight special forest vegetation reserves: sessile oak, hornbeam, sweet chestnut, beech, Pannonian beech, fir, maple, ash and pubescent oak. There are 91 strictly protected plant species. On the location of Krumpirište, there is an impressive yew tree over thousand years old.
The animal world used to be a lot more diverse in the past, but today there are roe deer, wild boar, and smaller carnivores such as wildcats, foxes, martens and weasels. There are 24 bat species living in the Park, and seven of those are listed as Natura 2000 species.
On Medvednica we recommend to visit the Cave Veternica, one of the longest caves in Croatia with over 7km of discovered channels. Life was first present here 45 thousand years ago, when the cave was used by the Neanderthals.
Another tip is to visit the Zrinski Mine, a Middle Ages silver mine located in Miner’s Garden, close to the Mountain Lodge „Grafičar“. The mine started to operate in the 16th century and was owned by the Zrinski Family. It is the only mine in Croatia open to the public. The legend speaks of secret passages connected with Medvedgrad Fort and St. Mark’s Church in the Old Town of Zagreb.
There are many mountain creeks on Medvednica with really fresh water.
The highlight of Medvednica is, of course, Medvedgrad, a medieval fortified town above Zagreb built on a hill 593 meters above sea level in the 13th century, providing a spectacular view of the capital city.
Medvednica means 'Bear Mountain' and Medvedgrad 'Bear Castle'. The bears once used to live on the mountain in large numbers, but not any more.