Get to Know Ludbreg

Get to Know Ludbreg

Geographic position

Ludbreg is a town located in north-western Croatia, in upper Podravina region, in the eastern part of the Varaždin County, right where the picturesque slopes of the Kalnik become the tame Podravina plain. As it’s so close to Croatian Zagorje, the geographic position of Ludbreg is excellent, and the area gives the inhabitants and the visitors alike the best of both regions.

The archaeological remains prove that the first inhabitation of Ludbreg happened before Roman times. Throughout its history, it had an important role in this region, as it was traffic, merchant, crafts, and religious centre. Today it remains ‘the Centre of the World’ not only to the people who live here but also to many tourists who visit it every day.

Ludbreg enjoys the good geographic position and the tame nature surrounding it, providing the visitors an honest and authentic experience, be it pilgrims, business people, outdoor lovers, or travelers passing through.

How to reach us?

If you're driving:

Ludbreg has relatively good connections to the neighbouring regional centres, and it takes around 30 minutes to drive to the closest border crossings to Slovenia and Hungary. Croatian Automotive Club website will help you find the fastest way for you to get to Ludbreg. Allow yourself to be seduced by the charming local roads as they stay hidden to those travellers that are in a rush.

There are six different road directions from Ludbreg. The town is located 25 kilometres to the south-east from Varaždin, on the Varaždin – Koprivnica highway. The Podravina road towards Varaždin and Koprivnica is important to a wider region. The direction following the valley of the Bednja river towards Varaždinske Toplice and Novi Marof merges to the A4 motorway Goričan – Varaždin – Zagreb. Of local importance are the directions towards Legrad in Donje Međimurje, Prelog, and the villages of Kalnik.

The drive from Varaždin and Koprivnica to Ludbreg is usually around 25 minutes. Čakovec is 30 minutes away on a regional road, and from Zagreb you can come to Ludbreg in 50 minutes if you take the modern A4 motorway.

There are very good bus connections from Ludbreg to the near-by towns, and through them with the rest of the country and the locations abroad.

By train:

Ludbreg is right on the railroad corridor connecting Varaždin with Koprivnica, Osijek, and Dalj. The train rides from both Varaždin and Koprivnica take around 20 minutes.

From Zagreb, you can come to Ludbreg from both directions (you might need to change trains), and more details about the lines and their duration can be found on the Croatian Railways website.

Ludbreg Map

History of Ludbreg

Ludbreg is considered to be one of the oldest settlements in Croatia.

The small town in the Podravina region of Croatia has developed on the road crossing, with roads going east to west and north to south, and all of the trade needed to cross the Bednja River. The Illyrians and the Celts passed by; it saw the Tataric and Turkish armies, the army of the viceroy Jelačić and others.

The prehistoric mages predicted the future here, the Slavic priests offered sacrifice, and Roman rich folk enjoyed the beautiful nature. And it was the importance of those roads, and the foundation for its creation was made before the New Era, that brought the Romans to this area, and between ages 6 and 9 AD, they built the monumental IOVIA here.

In time a settlement developed around it, with the inhabitants working for the Roman army. Since Iovia has failed in the 4th century AD in the Great Migration Period, up until the 7th century AD, there aren’t many archaeological findings. More information about the development of the town can be found in the Slavic forts, which were surrounded by water-filled moats, and fortified by the soil dug up from those moats, fortified by sharp stakes.

There were four forts in the period, and one of them, located on the left bank of the Bednja river, was the safest, covered by the forest, far from all roads. That is the exact location where the Old Town (as it’s known today) was originally built, with some of the foundations dated to the 11th century.

In the ruined Iovia, there was a lot of stone around to be used, so the rough walls of the medieval Wasserburgs grew, and not far from it, a new settlement appears. The new inhabitants remove one stone at the time, and thus the old Iovia disappears. Where it used to stand, Ludbreg gets built – a settlement with organized civic and religious administration. During those times the Christianity starts to spread in the area again, and it seems that the first Christian place of worship was built precisely where today the Catholic Most Holy Trinity Church still stands.

Nobility of Ludbreg

The history of the nobility of Ludbreg starts in the first half of the 13th century, when Ludbreg is first mentioned, but not called Ludbreg, rather ‘Transit aquam Bugne-Bednja’ (a place at the Bednja river crossing).

According to the estate borders on the Bull, issued by King Bela IV in 1244 to the noble Cer family, we can tell that that’s the exact location. Before then, Ludbreg was ruled by duke Kolman (1226-1242). In the early 14th century, Ludbreg is governed by noble people who are influential on the national stage as well. The first of them was Nikola of Ludbreg, who disappears around 1360. Ten years after that, Ludbreg is owned by Ivan Chus, a Croatian viceroy and respected army commander. After his death, his sons inherit the estate and rule until 1442. They enriched Ludbreg by building the impressive monument, the church which still stands and is the parish church in Ludbreg. Its construction was finished in 1410, and additional development in 1658, 1779, and 1829 gave it the appearance it has today.

New master, Benko Thuroczy entered the old fort of Ludbreg in 1468. His family continues to rule this region in the 16th and 17th centuries. The town gets more fortified during their time, as the Turkish armies often attacked here. They passed by in 1532 when numerous villages around got burned, but they didn’t touch the fort as they were in a hurry to get back east. The legend of the miracle originates from that time. The legend appeared during the time of great suffering and is related to the blood of the great sufferer – Jesus Christ. The blood appeared in a chalice when a priest held Mass in the chapel and doubted the truth of transubstantiation. Since the priest was scared, he had the relic embedded in the wall behind the main altar.

The workman who did the job was sworn to silence. The priest also kept it secret and revealed it only at the time of his death. After the priest’s revelation, news spread quickly, and pilgrims started arriving. Since then, the large Eucharist celebration of the Holy Blood of Jesus takes place every year, on the first Sunday in September.

Ludbreg as a market town

Looking back, we see that Ludbreg became a market town and a pilgrimage spot while Bernardino Thuroczy ruled there. It’s important to mention that, in addition to the primary feast day linked to the pilgrimage, there were other fairs in Ludbreg, such as the Fašnjak fair, flower fair, Corpus Christi fair, etc. Since the early 16th century, a market has been regularly held on a Wednesday (a tradition still going on).

It’s not entirely clear what exactly happened to the Ludbreg estate in early 17th century. The noble Erdödy family took ownership of Ludbreg in 1635, but during their rule the numerous Turkish army forces and German mercenaries ravaged Ludbreg. A postal line followed the Graz-Varaždin-Ludbreg-Koprivnica route, and it is thought to be the oldest postal line. Back in 1556, Ludbreg had a post office, and since the liberation of Slavonia in 1669, the postal line was extended to Osijek.

After the Erdödys, the powerful Batthyany family rule over Ludbreg (from 1695 until 1918). They built numerous monuments: in 1753 they had Michael Peck paint frescoes in the castle chapel, they built the St. Roch chapel in Karlovac Ludbreški in 1768, a church in Đurđ in 1775, had the enclosure wall built around the Ludbreg church in 1799. The town gets a new appearance during their time as well, as they took down the walls around the fort and the tower and built the third floor in 1800. The Batthyanys were so powerful they had the right to hold trials and give death penalties. The castle judge was seated in the town until 1848. Even King Francis I visited the pilgrimage and stayed in the castle in October of 1817. Filip Batthyany was the last feudal ruler of Ludbreg, who passed on in 1870. His successor was a distant cousin, Gustav Batthyany died in 1830 in London. His son Edön had Körmend take care of Ludbreg, and the renters worked on the estate. The last owner, Ladislav Batthyany, sold his estate to a baron, Amon Rukavina, and a company called Berger from Zagreb purchased it from him. In the next several years, all the meadows, fields, and forests were parcelled out, and in 1939 the Ludbreg Municipality bought the Ludbreg Town.