This location provided a perfect position to control the surroundings and traffic routes. The question of the period and the cause of constructing Medvedgrad has not yet been fully clarified. The period between 1249 and 1254 is the most frequently mentioned as the period of its construction upon the orders of the Bishop Philip of Zagreb to defend the Kaptol and the bishop’s possessions from the attacks of the Tatars.
Historians consider Medvedgrad as a classic burg with elements of high quality. A burg is a German word and signifies a fortress, a castle or a palace, a residence of local rulers and royalty, surrounded by defensive walls. Medvedgrad therefore represents the best preserved example of a medieval burg in Croatia. Around 1260, King Bela IV (1206 – 1270) entrusted the fortress to the Duke Stjepko Šubić, and later it was governed by many Croatian bans and nobles. It was significantly damaged by an earthquake in 1590, and due to the consequences it was abandoned in 1602 by its last residents.
Many stories and legends are connected to Medvedgrad, and in some records, it is even called the cursed city – Maledictum Castrum Medved. The most famous is the story of the Black Queen, who sold her soul to the Satan, and her screams echo in the night and her treasure is buried somewhere in the interior walls of Medvedgrad.
During the seventies, an extensive archaeological research began when an early Gothic octagonal chapel Saint Philip and Jacob was discovered and fully restored. After completion of the conservation work, at the bottom of the southern wall, The Altar of the Homeland was erected in 1994, a monument to those who died during the Croatian War of Independence and a place of reverence to the Croatian homeland. The monument is assembled of cubes with carved motifs from the time of Duke Branimir, with a large cross and verses of the Croatian national anthem. In the middle, there is an “eternal fire”.
Medvedgrad offers a breath taking view of the city of Zagreb and by many it is regarded as the best place for watching Zagreb at night.