Experience & Feel

Old Town – my story

Old Town – my story


Let me tell you my story. It might take a while, but it's worth listening to.

I am the Old Town, a proud monumental structure that has matured and grown over time and centuries. Even today, from the manuscript kept in the Croatian State Archives, you can find out that the last male heir from the Petheö family owned my 14 commercial residential premises in the town, with an additional "palace", cellar, storeroom, kitchen and other premises necessary for the economy. In my stone structure there was a chapel, a grange with three buildings, a pond, a mill with three wheels for grinding grain and a mill with one stone for grinding groats. I possessed everything that a proud castle must have and even more! My four wings were connected in a circular regular pattern, and the northern wing, facing the Varaždin – Lepoglava road, was protected by three imposing towers that served as a defense for the entrance to the town, as well as a defense for the western and eastern wings of the town.

My architecture

I was the guardian and protector of the whole area. I was especially proud of the guard tower which had three floors, two of which served as living spaces, while the third floor was an attic space. A magnificent view of all the roads leading to Ivanec could be seen from my top. I don't want to bore you with excessive details, but I want you to understand how powerful and magnificent I was.

My main tower was square, the western tower had a polygonal shape, while the eastern tower was semicircular. The western tower was hexagonal and irregularly built, but it had a strategically important position overlooking the road that stretched towards the church, the village and further towards Mt. Ivančica.

If you could only have seen the view…

The view from my tower stretched all the way to Mt. Ivančica. All towers were connected by massive defensive walls. My southern wing was built during the 18th century under the leadership of Ladislav Erdödy. The southeast wing of the courtyard was also created in the 18th century and was used for service and economic purposes.

I was surrounded by a deep trench filled with clean water from the Bistrica stream. In the place of the today’s park, there used to be a large pond full of fish and rich underwater life thanks to the clean water from the Bistrica stream.

When the last heir of the Petheö family died in 1713, I passed into royal ownership. Over time, I changed a series of owners, and in the end, Ladislav Kukuljević became the new owner and completely renovated me along with the environment.

How did it all start?

Counts Erdödy became the owners of the Bela, Ivanec and Jurketinec areas in 1740 and expanded me so I survived until October 27, 1943. Unfortunately, the whirlwind of war conflicts caught up with me too, which led to my burning down. In 1959, the last remains of me, a symbol of Ivanec’s history, were completely removed by demolition and nothing remained of me. Nevertheless, I am still present in my beloved town, scattered like a star in orbit because the residents of Ivanec have incorporated my stone into the town streets. I am happy that I am still alive and that my stone being still pulsates in the heart of the town that I will love until the end of time.

Loss of the Petheö family’s ownership

The Petheö family experienced an upheaval in 1728 when Ivan Petheö, the last male heir, died. After the death of his wife Barbara Falussy in 1730, the ownership of my property and Bela passed into the hands of the royal fisc, and were then given by the king to Count Palffy. However, in 1740, Count Ladislav Erdödy of Novi Marof bought the entire property for the sum of 80,000 forints.

Brave women fought to reclaim their property

The Petheo family did not give up because there were a few brave women left who started a lawsuit to recover their stolen inheritance. I completely understand why they fought for me because take my word for it, I was magnificent in every way. I note with deep regret that some things here are eternal, the judiciary has never been the fastest link in this area. The female members of the Petheö family fought for 45 years to recover my possessions, and the litigation ended in 1817 in favor of the family.

In the meantime, the property of Bela, Cerje and Ivanec was divided among as many as 15 families. After this historic lawsuit, the town and territory of Ivanec became the property of Baron Adam Peharnik Hotković. Katarina Hotković, the baron's daughter, inherited her father's property and married the lawyer Nikola Faller. Franjo Kukuljević inherited the estate of Ivanečka Kaniža with its forests and land, where he built a small country manor house and associated farm buildings.

This was where my happy days began, which I will tell you in more detail if you stay with me a little longer. I know my whisper is quiet because I am a flickering shadow extinguished like a faint fire in the rain, but my story is still strong.

The story of the Kukuljević family - the dearest owners worthy of me and my beauty

In 1867, after numerous changes in ownership, I was bought by Ladislav Kukuljević, the son of Franjo Kukuljević, who inherited Ivanečka Kaniža and was one of the richest men of his time. Before he left this world, Ladislav transferred his imposing wealth together with the Old Town to his nephew Božidar, the son of Ivan Kukuljević Sakcinski, since he had no offspring of his own.

In his will, generous Kukuljević left a significant part of his property to many lucky people: his family, friends, societies dedicated to enlightenment in Croatia, firefighters, the poor, former serfs, officials, employees, and many others. He was a good and noble man; he died in his beloved Ivanec in 1896.

New clothes and a new image

My new owner became Božidar Kukuljević (1861 – 1927), who gave me new clothes and renewed my beauty. My stony face proudly smiled on historical postcards, and my reputation spread across the country and beyond. Older residents of Ivanec still remember my greatness and monumentality. Božidar was a lover of beauty, a pure hedonist with an unerring sense of aesthetics.

He was responsible for the arrangement of the English garden, which you know today as the Ivanec town park, and he furnished my interior rooms with selected stylish furniture and paintings from the legacy of his famous father Ivan, including original paintings by Vjekoslav Karas, portraits of historical figures of Croatia and other artistic values.

Days of pride and glory

What days those were! Perhaps it is wrong to say that a castle flourished because that parable is more suitable for flowers, bushes, or trees. But I truly blossomed and grew in love and harmony during those years. I was groomed, washed, combed, and decorated. My wings and my hands welcomed so many important guests who danced on the shiny floors under gorgeous candelabras and crystal chandeliers. I could tell a whole novel about the fates of nice people who visited me, about intrigues and scheming, secret treasures stolen in the park, forbidden romances, political and business negotiations. In short, I was a small world.

Slow decline

Unfortunately, the desire for pleasure and beauty often goes hand in hand with clumsy management, so my owner Božidar succumbed to the debts that his love for a good drop and bite, love and passion for music, tendency to over-host, excessive demands of too many relatives led him into. He began to slowly sell and mortgage parts of his large property. His son Radovan Kukuljević, faced with his father's growing debts, was forced to hand over three quarters of the Ivanec property to his brother-in-law Dr. Josip Šaban, the husband of his sister Ladislava, in 1934. It wasn't so bad either, I thought then, because I became the lordly summer house of the Šaban family, I always adapted well to opportunities and difficulties.

But the carefree enjoyment of the Šaban family was suddenly interrupted by World War II. The rustling of beautiful crinolines and muslins and silk dresses disappeared, the toasts and abundant feasts stopped, the laughter and music died down, and instead reality brought destruction, bombs, persecutions, and everything that I willingly closed my centuries-old eyes to. I did not want to be a part of that and such a reality, I would rather be remembered as a proud guardian of the past from a happier time.

But I want to tell you that I have not died. I lived and will live embedded in the heart of the town, as long as my Ivanec exists.