Varazdin is a picturesque, historic city in northwest Croatia. Early in the year 2006 its population was estimated by World Gazetteer at roughly 42,000. It lies 79 km northeast of Zagreb, the Croatian capital. Further, the city is especially famous throughout Europe for its Varazdin guard, the ‘Purgari’ officers dressed in stunning blue grenadier uniforms who stand guard by the city’s Town Hall during important ceremonies. The baroque Hall dates back to 1523, and continues to function today, with a guard-changing ceremony every Saturday.
Varazdin is well known to be one of the most important and attractive tourist centres in northern Croatia. The city is probably most renowned for its numerous beautiful baroque buildings, which draw a great many visitors every year. The urban centre of the town — which, it is often remarked, has some clear similarities with the Austrian capital Vienna — is particularly well preserved and offers tourists a wonderful range of sights.
These popular sights include several high quality museums, art galleries and special exhibitions, which attract large crowds. Of special note is the Old and Modern Masters Gallery, which can be found in the rococo style Sermage Palace, whose architecture dates back to 1750. A more unusual attraction in the city is the beautiful Varazdin Cemetery, which is protected as a national horticultural monument.
The Entomological Department at Herzer Palace is also a particularly popular tourist draw in the city, and is recommended as a must for any new visitors. It houses a unique exhibition of more than 10,000 stuffed insects, collected over a very long time by local legend Franjo Koscec.
The Old City fortification, situated at the very heart of the city, is an extremely beautiful example of Croatian medieval building. Work began on the fortification in the early 14th century, and today it still boasts the very best of the era of Gothic architecture in Croatia. It also now houses the Verazdin Town Museum.
The Town Museum’s distinguishing features include exhibits tracing the history of the city of Varazdin and its surrounding region, from the prehistoric period right up to the present day. The region is particularly rich in historic information and artefacts — the oldest known written reference to Varazdin dates back to 1181, when King Bela III made note of thermal springs in Varazdinske Toplice within a legal document.
The city also boasts numerous exciting cultural and entertainment events, which are enjoyable for all visitors of whatever age. Of these, the most significant are the Varazdin Baroque Evenings — generally regarded as the greatest musical events in the whole of Croatia. Other important events are the International Festival of Wind Orchestras and the Days of the Book.
The chief working occupations of people in Varazdin include agricultural farming, wine production and livestock herding. The major manufacturing industries in the region are textiles, artificial silk production, footwear leather processing, canned food processing, timber and metalwork and the printing industry.
Varazdin is one of a very few Croatian cities whose business and industry did not especially suffer from the war in the country in 1991. Since that time, the financial and banking services sector has also become better developed in the area, even hosting the only Croatian OTC Stock Exchange. Further economic development has also been enabled via the creation and maintenance of a free investment zone in the region.
The city is very accessible, being found at the meeting of several major Croatian highways, together with the M3, which also runs along the Slovenian border and the M12, which touches the Hungarian border, and is served by railroads running via both borders as well.