The castle of Trakoscan in Croatia was built in the 13th century, as a part of the northwestern fortification system. It was initially a rather small observation fortress situated on the road in between Ptuj and Bednja Valley. In later years, Trakoscan was expanded and built into a substantial residence and garden complex.
Regional legends identify two possible sources for the name Trakoscan. In the first, the name Trakoscan has its origins in antiquity, in the name of another fortification, Arx Thacorum. Another regional legend states that Trakoscan was named after the early medieval knights of Drachenstein who controlled the region in times preceding the building of the fortress.
Written records first mention the fortress in 1334, but do not name its owner in those early years. By the end of the 14th century, Trakoscan was owned by the rulers of Zagorje, the Counts of Celje. The family died out, and Trakoscan went through a period of multiple owners and division of land, as did many other properties in the region. During these years, Trakoscan was owned by a number of military leaders, including Jan Vitovac, Ivanis Corvin, and Ivan Guylay. The Guylay family retained ownership of Trakoscan for several generations, until 1566. When the Guylay family line ended without an heir, the state took control and ownership of the property.
In the late 16th century, Juraj Draskovic (1525-1587) was gifted the castle by King Maximillian. Later, the gift was made permanent and the castle passed fully into the ownership of the Draskovic family in 1584. Trakoscan was inhabited until the middle of the 18th century. During that time of new construction in Hrvatsko Zagorje, the castle was abandoned and fell into disrepair.
The Draskovic family took a renewed interest in Trakoscan during the mid-19th century. The romanticism of the mid-19th century brought attention and interest to many old properties, including Trakoscan. Juraj V. Draskovic, a deputy marshal, converted the old family fortress to a 19th century style manor house and romanticist garden. The family resided in the newly converted manor house on an occasional basis for a hundred years, until their final immigration to Austria in 1944. The manor became a national property shortly thereafter. In 1953, the castle of Trakoscan was converted into a museum and is today owned by the Croatian government.
The museum displays the original possessions of the Draskovic family, dating from the 15th to the 19th centuries. The castle, as it stands in its 19th century form, consists of four levels, two at ground level, a second floor, and a third floor. The first of the two ground level sections of the museum contains a kitchen, armorer’s shop, storage room, and workshop. There was once a dungeon under this area. These spaces are the servant’s areas of the building and complex. The other ground floor section of the residence includes the areas used by the family. The rooms on this floor are primarily large halls, used for receptions and other functions. The second floor of the castle of Trakoscan contains luxurious furnishings dating to the mid to late 19th century. These rooms were occupied by and decorated for the Draskovic family. The uppermost floor is somewhat less lavish than the family, but does include collections of Baroque and Rococo furniture. These rooms served guests visiting the manor in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The grounds surrounding the castle of Trakoscan are beautiful and well maintained, making it a pleasant overall experience for the visitor.
The castle of Trakoscan spans a very long period of Croatian history from its beginnings as a small fortress to its heyday as a 19th century manor. Today, it is a lovely museum, revealing both the workings of a large home in days past and the beauty of its lush furnishings and gardens. The castle is today more a remembrance of 19th century styles and values than medieval ones, but its décor and history are both interesting and significant within the overall culture of Croatia.