A Brief History of Cakovec
Cakovec is a very interesting and culturally rich city in the north of Croatia. It’s the largest city in Medimurje (the northernmost county of Croatia) and has a long history dating back to the 1st century AD. It was formerly called Aquama, and was a Roman place for holiday.
During the 13th century, the Hungarian Earl, Dimitrus Csaky, built a wooden tower in Cakovec, which is how the name of the city originated (from the Cakov Tower).
People still say that Cakovec is the city of the Zrinski family, and you’ll definitely feel the influence of the family if you visit.
One of Cakovec’s other claims to fame, is that the first railway in Croatia was built and opened there, in 1860 (Pragersko (Slovenia)–Čakovec–Kotoriba–Nagykanizsa (Hungary) length 42,4 km)
The population today is around 20 000 people, and has much to offer its citizens and travelers alike. There is excellent gastronomy, sports activities, a lively nightlife and plenty of events that take place throughout the year.
What are some highlights to see and do in Cakovec?
1. Čakovec castle (Zrinski Castle or Old town Čakovec)
When the Zrinski family came to Medimurje, the castle was transformed into a fortified Renaissance Palace, surrounded and secured by trenches filled with water.
Within the walls, you can also visit the local Museum of Medimurje, as well as see the large library, exquisite furnishings, and feel the luxurious lifestyle that was once lived within the Palace. More on the museum in the next point...
2. Međimurje County Museum
It tells the whole story and history of the city and the region of Medimurje right from the beginning, through the changing of empires, world wars, as well as through the more recent Homeland War that took place in the 90s.
In the courtyard on the ground floor of the palace, there is also a Lapidarium (which is a collection of stone monuments from various points throughout history). The museum has many other departments, like cultural, historical, ethnographic, an art gallery (with King Ladislav’s memorial collection), an exceptional library that holds thousands upon thousands of relics from the area.
3. Zrinski Park (Perivoj Zrinski)
This picturesque park is located all around the Cakovec castle and is known as the biggest park in the whole county of Medimurje.
What makes this park special is that it’s not only stylish and artistic, but it’s also educational and holds historic value, of course. You can simply enjoy the stunning scenery and breathe in the fresh air from almost 1500 trees, take a walk or even spread out a blanket and enjoy a picnic on the park grounds.
4. Commercial Casino building (Zgrada Doma sindikata or Trgovački casino)
If you visit, you can see the various rooms within the building - for cards, parlour games, a reading room, a dancing room, and a special withdrawing room for ladies (which is a room where ladies would “withdraw” to after a dinner party, to have their own conversations).
Later, in the mid-20th century, the building began to be used as a trade union hall, hence the name incorporating both uses. Today, the building is home of the union associations in Croatia.
5. Church of St. Bishop Nicholas and Franciscan Monastery
The monastery is regarded as the spiritual center of Medimurje, and has been home to schools of philosophy, moral theology and church teachings.
6. Feštetić Castle
7. The Monument of Nikola Zrinski
The monument features an eagle on a pillar with its wings spread open, standing on a lyre and a sword (symbolizing Nikola Zrinski’s heroism and poetry).
Where to Eat in Cakovec
Mala Hiža (Mačkovec)
Mala Hiza is about 10 mins from Cakovec, in Mackovec Village. It’s become a well known restaurant in the area, and for good reason!
It’s a nice, rustic-wooden style restaurant, serving local cuisine, and holds a lovely, warm ambiance and gives the feeling of stepping back! The food is delicious (with modern touches), and the wine is also wonderful.
You won’t be disappointed with the quality you’ll receive in terms of food and service (and you might even be surprised with the reasonable prices).
Don’t forget to indulge in some dessert - the Međimurska gibanica is our favorite!
Restaurant Barok is located right in Cakovec and offers a combination of traditional and modern dishes. There’s really something for everyone, from pasta, steak and pizza to more authentic Croatian meals and dishes.
They have a beautiful and cozy interior, as well as a wonderful terrace to enjoy your meal outside if you wish!
The prices are mid-range, but of course steaks are more a bit pricier than the average meal of around 50-70 kn.
We loved the green pasta with turkey, pumpkin seeds and cream, and the pork risotto with fresh pumpkin and roasted bacon. However, everything we saw around us looked fantastic.
Trattoria Rustica - the best italian-style restaurant in the wider area
If you find yourself in Cakovec and you’re in the mood for Italian, look no further than Trattoria Rustica! Their Italian food is delicious and has a bit of a Croatian touch (so don’t feel bad for going Italian when you’re in Croatia :)
The atmosphere is rustic-Italian - you’ll even feel like you’re in Italy! If it’s a nice day, you can always sit on the beautiful terrace as well.
Trattoria Rustica is known for its tasty food, excellent service and the prices are affordable.
Don’t forget to try the strudel - it will leave you speechless :)
This completes our list of the top things to see and do in Cakovec, as well as a few suggestions of places to eat! If you find yourself in the area, you’ll surely feel the influence that Nikola Zrinski had on this historic city and region.
My personal favorite thing to do is the castle and the museum. It’s fascinating to visit all of the different departments, learn about the history of Medimurje, and see the thousands of relics from the past. Afterwards, a picnic in the park is always a good idea!
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