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»...Therefore, because it was by our will to build in Zagreb, a town on the Grič hill, a free city, and to call people there, and to establish and consolidate that part of the kingdom for the purpose of securing the frontier and for other benefits... by this document we make known to the citizens present as well as to the descendants, that we have accomplished our intent, allowing the establishment of a free town on the aforementioned hill, the free inhabitance of citizens, to have, retain and permanently preserve the land and possessions, conditions and freedoms that we have set down and signed.«
This important document, originally written in the Latin language, and called the Golden Bull (Zlatna Bula), issued by Bela IV, the king of Hungary and Croatia, marked the beginning of an undisturbed, political and economic development of the city under the slopes of the Medvednica mountain. During its entire existence, the city of Zagreb, despite all the historical challenges and spatial determinants imposed by the concept of Bulwark of Christianity, steadily preserved its tradition of a developed Central European city. Due to the historical circumstances, Zagreb was closely connected to Vienna and Pest, cities with which, to tell the truth, it was not always in idyllic relations, but which, if nothing else, forced Zagreb to develop its own indigenous character.
Today, with great pleasure we can proudly say that, despite all these challenges, Zagreb maintains and develops its special character and potential, which is confirmed by the figure of almost one million inhabitants and a developed political and economic function of the capital of the newly created independent Republic of Croatia. Zagreb is a city of monuments, each of which documents individual milestones of its historical development. Still, there are some concepts like Grič or Kaptol that have a key role in the formation of the city of Zagreb. These two formerly fiercely conflicting settlements, whose relationship gave rise to many stories, which may or may not have their base in history, were the basis of the creation of the city we know today.
Medvedgrad, a historic fort built on the slopes of Medvednica, is another mythical place relevant for the historical development of Zagreb. Known today as the site of the Altar of Homeland, a national monument complex, this fortress was built in the 13th century (sources say between 1249 and 1254) as a place where Hungarian and Croatian greats took refuge after jet another Tatars invasion. In 1472, in this burg, which was one of the largest burgs in Croatia at that time, died Ivan Česmički, historically known as Janus Pannonius, the poet and ban (banus) of Slavonia, and the greatest figure of Hungarian humanism. Today, Medvedgrad, with its very impressive view of Zagreb, is a favourite destination for hiking and excursions. Its position, and especially the role it has had for centuries, as well as symbolism it holds even today, were crucial for naming our Rotary Club - Medvedgrad.