How important the fortress of Zrin was in its time, perhaps the bestbolis illustrated by the fact that one branch of Šubić took Zrinski as another surname. It is always worth noting that the Šubićs are one of the twelve tribes that, in the time of the people's rulers, elected a king and a ban from among their prominent members. At the same time, six "stronger" families elected a king, and six "weaker" bans, or viceroys, as they would say in some other kingdoms. Šubići were among the top six, therefore, contenders for the Croatian crown.
When in the first half of the XIV. century a conflict broke out between King Karl Robert and Šubić, perhaps bolit was said that the Croatian ban of Prince Mladen Bribirski, the princes of Krk, later the Franks, sided with the king. The war between the two powerful Croatian princely families ended very romantically. Princess Elizabeth, daughter of Ban Mladen Šubić Bribirski, married Prince Dujam III in 1437. Krk, and Dujmo's sister, also Princess Elizabeth, married Prince Paul II. Šubić Bribirski, brother of Prince Mladen. Thus, Šubići and Krčki ended the war conflict with a double marriage.
Juraj III was born in the marriage of Elizabeta Krčka and Pavle Bribirski. Bribirski, who, when he grew up, was the first in the family to take the surname Zrinski, according to the Zrin estate in which he had a family home, which he received from King Ludovic of Anjou in exchange for Ostrovica in Dalmatia.
However, the Zrinskis were not the original builders of the Zrin fortress, but it seems that they were the Babonić princes, who ruled part of Bosnia and the Kingdom of Slavonia.
Over the next two hundred years, the Zrinskis ruled most of the area from the Una to the Korana, and they became very rich by acquiring the right to mine and mint money. Nikola Šubić Zrinski, Croatian ban and legendary defender of Siget, married to Katarina Frankopan, was born and dined in the Zrin fort.
Zrin Fortress fell into Turkish hands in 1577 and remained under Ottoman rule for the next 110 years.
Even before the fall of the Turks, Zrin was in poor condition, so in 1563 the military commission considered that it should be completely demolished. Nevertheless, some attempts at reconstruction have been recorded, even during Turkish rule.
If you want to visit Zrin and see for yourself what condition it is in now, you need to get to Dvor na Uni first, and then take the local road to Zrin. Just follow the signs. While you are at the entrance to the village of Zrin, on the hill you will see the fort and the remains of a square defensive tower. Drive only on the road straight to the end of the asphalt. If you have a small car, I recommend that you park it somewhere and take the left macadam road slightly uphill. A car with all-wheel drive, especially if it is a little taller, will climb without any problems.
On foot or by car, after about 400 meters uphill you will come across a right separation again uphill for another 200 meters. This branch leads to the fort and it is not happy to go by car, although it is possible. The main road continues straight for another 300 meters to the remains of the church of St. Mary Magdalene.
Both the church and the fort are being restored and it is truly worthy of all praise. I hope that the authorities will find the strength, will, time and money so that the renovation works do not stop until these valuable buildings regain at least part of their old splendor.
Zrin Fortress is elliptical in shape, slightly wider in the northern part - opposite the main entrance. It is about 130 meters long and about 50 meters wide, maybe some 4.000 square meters. The entrance, the access road and the loopholes in the defensive wall from which the guards monitored the access are still very well preserved. Behind the door is a smaller plateau, something like the fortification wall. Above that part is dominated by a high square tower with a memorial plaque to Nikola Šubić Zrinski, which you will see only when you pass through the second door into the main area of Zrin.
According to what we have visited, archeological and conservation works are being carried out only in the southern part, while the central and northern parts are still intact, or at least it looks like that under low vegetation, mostly blackberries. On the west side, there is a space that could be sacred. Maybe that's the chapel of St. Margaret mentioned within the walls of the fort.
What surprised us was the noise of the forest stream we heard as we stood along the far north wall of the fort. I tried to imagine what that space looked like at the time of its peak and… I couldn’t imagine it. Perhaps, I hope, in a few years archaeologists will excavate enough foundations of former buildings to give Zrin its former appearance again, at least as a picture on paper.
Photos: Tomislav Beronić