The journey to Modruš actually starts only by getting off the highway near Ogulin, more precisely Oštarije. The first and unavoidable destination is the Church of Our Lady of Miracles in Oštarije, dating back to the time of Prince Stephen III. Frankopan and his son Bernardin.
The church was built as the cathedral church of the Bishop of Modruš. It was badly damaged in the Turkish devastation of the early 16th century from which it never fully recovered. Believers built a new church in the area of the original church, the sanctuary itself, which, with occasional additions and maintenance, still exists today.
From Oštarije we took the road across Josipdol in the direction of Brinje to Modruš and stopped at the chapel of St. Nikola, or Mikula as the locals call her. I am interested in the story that this chapel was the reason for the former Gvozd mountain to be renamed Kapela, just after that church. Right next to the chapel is the road that leads right uphill towards the famous Frankopan fortress Tržan. The only signpost that exists points to a tourist facility, holiday house "Tržan", but bolis also a landmark rather than none. But there is GPS navigation that can be helpful.
We take the winding asphalt road to reach the church of St. Antun and the renovated buildings of the former school. We could not enter the church, so we toured the churchyard. In front of the entrance to the church, Goran points us to a stone urn from the Roman era, and huge stone slabs on two graves to the left of the church indicate the possibility that these are also ancient artifacts. Across the street from the church, already well overgrown with bushes, is the building of the old gendarmerie, where basement rooms can still be seen. In that part of the village of Modruš, there are several collapsed buildings, perhaps several hundred years old. It is not our job to judge this, but to highlight historical sites as a tourist potential.
We continue further and come to the foot of the fortress Tržan. According to some old drawings and what we see climbing towards the top we comment on the size and imagine what it might have looked like at the time of its greatest splendor and glory. Personally, I am especially pleased with the intensity of archaeological research, which is obviously higher than the situation I found during the previous visit, two years ago.
Tired of the climb, we "solve" what we brought to eat and especially to drink. And for the drink was, of course, fragrant - enriched with honey and cloves - Frankopan beer of Princess Beatrice, which Karlovac craft Brewery cellar recently brought to market. A lot of that beer coincided here. First, Princess Beatrice Frankopan, to whom the beer is dedicated, was born on Modruš to mother Louise Marzano of Aragon, Duchess of Naples and Prince Bernardin Frankopan of Modruš. Second, the character of Princess Beatrice on the beer label was embodied by Andrea, our leader on this expedition.
What is especially interesting about Tržan is the exceptional view. The fort is located on a steep hill about 670 meters above sea level. The view is of the surrounding valleys, and even very far, across the lake Sabljaci towards Ogulin. The surrounding mountains and highways can be seen nicely, and Goran directs us to the route of Jozefinska cesta, which led from Karlovac, just across Modruš, to Senj.
However, the true history of Modruš goes back much further than Jozefinska cesta. Before the Croats, the area was inhabited by Japods, Romans, and Greeks, who is often synonymous with peoples from the east. By the gift of King Bela III. from 1193, Prince Bartol II. For his war merits, Krk received the Modruš County in permanent possession. As he had no children, Bartol obtained a charter from the new king Andrija, by which the estates could be inherited by Bartol's sons. Thus, this spatially large and economically important county remained the property of the princes of Krk Frankopan for the next five centuries as one of their most important strongholds, along with Krk and Senj, and later Ozalj.
East of Tržan today is the church of St. Trinity, and a little further from it there used to be a cathedral church where Prince Stjepan Frankopan, Father Bernardinov, was buried. During archeological research and excavations in the long half of the 20th century, the prince's tombstone was discovered, which we later saw in the chapel of St. Bernardine in the castle Ogulin.
Further to the east are the remains of the church of St. Spirit.
There are very good records and scientific papers about all these locations that you can easily find online if you want to know more. What I would definitely recommend is a trip to Modruš. Set aside one day for this, make sure it is beautiful and visibility is good. I am confident that you will enjoy it as well as we do.
According to what I have heard, seen and experienced in the area of Josipdol municipality, there is a will to highlight inherited historical values, to activate them through various projects and to make this area even more interesting for tourists in the not so distant future.
Photos: Tomislav Beronić