Varaždin is located in the northwestern part of Croatia, on the right banks of the Drava River, some 80 kilometres from Zagreb. It is administrative seat of Varaždin county.
Varaždin is a town with a long history and a wealth of tradition. The wider Varaždin area was inhabited as far back as the Palaeolithic period, and in 1209 the settlement of Varaždin was conferred the status of a free royal township.
In the mid 16th century Varaždin was a cultural, political and commercial hub, and from 1595 the seat of the Slavonian Marches as a seat of the nobility, opulence and wealth, Varaždin in 1756 became the capital of Croatia, but the greatest fire in its history, in 1776, took from it the throne as the Ban (vicegerent) and his court moved to Zagreb.
Known as a city of the baroque period, music and flowers, Varaždin is a town with an exceptionally rich history now home to 50,000 inhabitants and is the cultural, society, education, textile and IT centre of that part of Croatia. Varaždin is a town of rich culture, social and architectural tradition with numerous baroque period and later more and more classicist style edifices.
Along with the Old Town, many palaces, buildings, houses, sacral buildings and one of the most beautiful cemeteries in Europe, Varaždin is an impressive town on which many prominent individuals left their mark: famed Croatian scientists, writers, lexicographers, poets, painters, sculptors and musicians.
There are many events held in Varaždin the whole year round. Fashion and film festivals, sports and recreation events, theatre, exhibitions and music events. One of the best known of Varaždin’s events is certainly the Varaždin baroque Evenings, a festival that has for almost 40 years every September and October celebrated the baroque period, the great musical virtuosos of the time and all of the grandeur of the baroque period that has left a significant imprint on the town and earned it the title of “Little Vienna”.
The Špancirfest is held in Varaždin every year in the last week of August, a busker festival that draws about two hundred thousand people and in which the old town core becomes a large stage for various street events, comedy theatre, children’s plays, concerts by renowned local and foreign musicians and host to tradition crafts, artists and many other exhibitors.
Along with the lavish program offered by Summer in Varaždin, which runs from late June to the start of August, the International Floral Exhibition in September, the International Dance Competition in early December, the International Trade Fair and Hunting, Fishing and Tourism Fair, Varaždin is also home to a 6 kilometre New Year’s race run through the town in which athletes and recreational joggers usher in the New Year on the run.
The accommodation offered in the town and its environs is growing and tourists can lodge at one of the town’s four hotels, several guesthouses, hostels and in private houses offering rooms.
Besides Varaždin, Varaždin County is also home to five other towns: Lepoglava, Ludbreg, Varaždinske toplice, Ivanec and Novi Marof. Lepoglava is called by some the cradle of Croatian culture and is known for its traditional Lepoglava lace. Ludbreg is known for miracles and legends. Varaždinske toplice is well known for its abundant source of thermal spring water around which a thermal spa existed as far back as in the Roman period, and which is now a renowned health resort. Ivanec is a small town at the feet of the most prominent highlands in northern Croatia – Ivanščica, while Novi Marof is a town that grew out of the Grebengrad aristocratic estate that was owned in the 12th century by Croatian rulers and nobles. Among the cultural and historical monuments in the town are the ruins of the medieval Templar burg. Trakošćan is also found in Varaždin County, one of the most magnificent medieval Croatian castles (municipality of Bednja).