Although there are no precise historical dana about the construction of the first church in Varaždin, it is assumed that there was a church in the place of the today's St. Nicholas's Church in the 12th century; that would mean that the church existed even before Varaždin was mentioned in historical documents for the first time, in 1181.
However, there is no written mention of the parish church in Varaždin, dedicated to St. Vjenceslav until 1334. It was an old Romanic church that was later renewed in the Gothic style and dedicated to St. Nicholas. Since it didn't have its own tower, the citizens decided to build a stone bell tower next to the church, with a stone bear built into it.
An old legend says that a bear used to live there with her cubs at the place of the first church in Varaždin. The builders chased her away.
When the church was finished, the bear came back. However, when she saw that her old den and her cubs were gone, she petrified with sadness. The builders felt sorry for her and built her into the wall as the everlasting memory of her eternal sadness.
Although this seems like just another legend, recent findings suggest that the bear was in fact made in the late 12th or early 13th century- in the time of the construction of the first Romanic church at the southern entrance to the town.
The stone bell tower of St. Nicholas's Church was finished in 1494, next to the Gothic church that was knocked down because of its old age. There was a new church built in its place, a beautiful Baroque church consecrated in 1778.
If you walk past the church, be sure to take a look at the sad mother bear- she has been here from the very beginnings of this city to remind us of the eternal mother's love.