In Međimurje County, Croatia, three Municipalities present examples of small authentic villages:
1. MUNICIPALITY OF NEDELIŠĆE
This is the largest municipality in Međimurje (area 58,33 km2) divided in eleven villages. From the south, Nedelišće is surrounded by the river Drava and its accumulation lake. The area is home to numerous species of plants and animals. Municipality of Nedelišće is known for the oldest railway line in Croatia, one of the first printing press in Croatia from the period of Zrinski, preserved cultural heritage and traditional music event “Međimurske popevke”, nurturing and promoting ancient crafts (decorated old smithy, traditional corn husk bags “cekari”, coopers), attractive natural sites of accumulation lake, from landscaped ponds, forests and walkway to the protected Platanus trees which are a monument of landscape architecture. In one of the villages, Črečan, Old House Village is a perfect example of a small authentic village. There are representative masonry houses typical for the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century surrounded by the pond. Nearby there is an old Horvat’s Forge which offers the rare deal with blacksmith craft today. Their skill is valuable and still needed in rural life.
In the northwest begins the hilly landscape of upper Međimurje. Many villages border with Slovenia in the west and there are a lot of important international road and rail routes. These routes present a bridge between Central Europe and the Adriatic Sea.
2. MUNICIPALITY OF ŠTRIGOVA
This municipality is a part of Međimurje County located in the north of Croatia, on the border with Slovenia. The Municipality covers 44.79 km2 divided in ten villages. The whole area is very hilly and that is why it is often called the upper Međimurje. Mađerka hill offers astonishing view of the whole area. Village Štrigova itself is located at an altitude of 202 meters. All villages together have almost 3000 residents, who live a calm and desirable life. These are places with picturesque landscapes where people give the shape and meaning to the agriculture and wine production, traditional food, tourism and hospitality, to religious and musical programs.
The centre of religious life is the Church of St. Mary Magdalene in the heart of Štrigova, built in the 17th century. Nearby is the Church of St. Jerome, built in 18th century (it is believed that St. Jerome was born in Štrigova). Inside the Church there are many priceless wall paintings (frescoes) of the baroque painter Ivan Ranger. Since 2010, the Ministry of Culture is exploring the site. There is also a complex of the former Pauline monastery in close vicinity as well as the National Archives of Međimurje situated in a building from the year 1912.
Legend says that the first vines were planted on the hills of Štrigova region (Roman Stridon) during the Romans. Symbolic trademark of the County is Međimurje wine road where 30 tasting houses and wine cellars offer the best of their own vineyards. Municipality of Štrigova is also known by traditional ceramics crafting. The legend says a Pozoj dragon is still resting under the Church of St. Jerome with a tail somewhere around the church of St. Mary Magdalene. It is dangerous to wake the dragon. Every spring, when the waters are high in the lower part of Štrigova, they say the young Pozoj whips his tail.
There are two historic castles in the Municipality: castle Banfi and castle Tkalec. Castle Banfi located in Banfi was built by Count Banffy in 1373. Castle Tkalec is located on the hill Kalec in Robadje, which was according to the legend build by the local Paulines in the 18th century.
3. MUNICIPALITY OF SVETA MARIJA
The municipality is located in the far eastern area of the Međimurje County along the Drava River. The municipality of Sveta Marija covers an area of 23.40 km2 and is one of the smallest municipalities. It is a member of the Mura Region – European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation with Limited Liability (Mura EGTS Region). Also, the area of the municipality of Sveta Marija is a part of protected nature in the Regional Park Mura-Drava. There are several protected cultural examples in the Municipality (two of which are intangible cultural assets):
– Church of Saint Mary with an interesting Neo-Gothic organ built by Leonhardt Ebner from 1869 till 1870. The abundant possibilities of expression as well as the monumental base, make it one of the most significant monuments of the kind in the Međimurje region.
– microtoponymy of Sveta Marija testifies to the past of the place. Investigating the names of the localities surrounding or located within the settlement, their origin can be discovered and their linguistic expression and non-linguistic aspects explained
– Sveta Marija’s lace and lacemaking are the traditional art of making lace is on the pins. It is a simpler lace which is made with relatively small number of wooden mallets – usually with 6 pairs to even 36 pairs for making more demanding motives. Basic characteristic of Sveta Marija’s lace is making it with only one continuous thread which is being held by a pair of small wooden mallets – the thread must not be merged and it’s advisable not to be broken during the making.
– Cultural society “Ivan-Mustač Kantor” founded in 1975 is still active and engaged in the preservation of the old folk customs
Municipality of Sveta Marija area is one of only two territories within Regional Park Mura-Drava (protected area declared in 2011.) where Plant Snake’s head fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris L.) grows.