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Karlovac Info

A little bit of history

The City of Karlovac started life as a fortified military outpost whose purpose was to strengthen the southern borders of the Austro-Hungarian Empire against Ottoman invasions. Construction of Karlstadt (as it was called then) began on 13th July 1579 under the instruction of Archduke Charles II of Austria (“Karl” in German. So, Karl-stadt, or Charles’ Town in English… get it?!). Karlovac’ birthday is still celebrated with a big party every year on this day!

The fortifications were designed to be in the unique shape of a six-pointed star, while the geometric grid inner core of houses, palaces, squares, and military buildings was typical of ideal renaissance urban planning. Unique also was its chosen location: on the crossroads of paths from the Pannonian plains to the Adriatic coast and the confluence of four rivers - Mrežnica, Korana, Kupa and Dobra.

Zvijezda, Karlovac

Zvijezda & City Centre

“Zvijezda”, the Croatian word for “star”, refers to the shape of the old fortifications and ditches protecting the city. It is what this part of the city is now known as today. Due to its favourable geographical location, the city developed into an important merchant and trading town, even more so after the lifting of military restrictions on development outside the fortifications in the late 18th century. It was then that the town was declared a “Free Royal City” and the important roads and waterways were developed as the city expanded and prospered. That is, until the 20th century.

After the retreat of the Ottomans and lifting of military restrictions there was no need for a fortified city anymore and over the years the old fortifications fell into disrepair and largely disappeared with the stone being mainly used for new constructions. Today, remnants of the old city walls still exist and the star shape is still clearly seen, clearly defined by a series of tree-lined paths, parks, promenades and recreational areas. The moats and ditches that once kept the Ottomans out are now places where you can enjoy a walk, ride a bicycle, play sports or just spend a lazy day (hung-over maybe?!) lying on the grass.

The original grid layout of the inner core is still very evident and is home to some fine examples of renaissance, baroque and neo-classical architecture.

Hostel Na putu itself is located on a terrace of mansions and merchant’s houses which were built just outside the old defensive moats in the prosperous years that followed the cities declaration as a Free Royal City in the 18th and 19th century.

KarlovacPhoto © Marin Stanišić

The Old Town of Dubovac

Built around the 13th century situated on a medieval hill with a view overlooking the city, the Old Town of Dubovac has been home to various Counts, Dukes and noblemen over the years.

The tower now holds a permanent exhibition of the fortress’ history and is open to the public. A little way down the hill you can find the baroque Church of the Blessed Virgin of the Snows.

Don’t forget to take a walk down the Plane-tree lined protected horticultural monument Marmont’s Avenue on your way to or from Dubovac. Named after Napoleon’s General and Marshal Marmont, the remaining 96 of 112 trees on the avenue are some 200 years old and were planted at the time of French rule in the early 1800’s.


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