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Lepoglava

Cradle of Croatian Culture


Idyllically situated, Lepoglava lies at the foot of Mount Ivanšćica near the River Bednja. It is a small town with a high place in Croatian art, culture, science, history and religion. For the most part, it was the Paulines who made the town's reputation. In 1503, they built Lepoglava grammar school, the first one in Croatia, then, in 1656, the Faculty of Philosophy, and founded the first university in Croatia.

They produced sumptuous buildings, such as the parish church and the monastery with its richly-painted frescoes, altars, its organ and furnishings, much of which survives. They were also responsible for Baroque churches at Gorica, Lepoglavska Purga, Kamenica, and Višnjica dotted round about the countryside near Lepoglava. Ivan Ranger’s beautiful frescoes in these places of worship perfectly complement Lepoglava’s historic architectural complex.

In the 1850s, Lepoglava monastery became a men’s prison, and a new era for the town began. In 1914, a large new structure was erected inside the prison which is still used today, even though it is a listed building. Among the many famous people once imprisoned were President Tuđman, Josip Broz, Moša Pijade, and Cardinal Stepinac.

Lepoglava has a long history of lace-making. In the late 1930s, Lepoglava exported lace to the very fussy European market as a fashion accessory and won prizes in international exhibitions. Now the tradition continues in the local lace- society, which annually in early October hosts the International Lace Festival.
On the town's outskirts is an important geological site, 'Gaveznica-Kameni Vrh', the only agate site in Croatia included among the European geological heritage sites.