DURDEVAC CASTLE - CROATIA
The Legend of the Rooster
There are other places where a similar legend appears, and certainly similar tactics, but the Legend of the rooster is played out at the castle in the little old town of Djurdjevac (Stari Grad Ðurdevac) with colorful costumes and remembrance of its place in history. The story goes that in the 16th Century, after the fall of Virovitica to the Turks in 1552, the military outpost at Durdevac was the closest to the Turkish border (see Wine Hotel Vinarija), guarding the route west. The Turks had assaulted the castle several times, and as was the purpose of medieval castles (burg), the villagers would gather inside the walls for protection. In a final attack, the Turkish srmy under Ulama-Bey laid siege to starve them into submission. Down to their last rooster, an old woman of the villiage came to the captain of the garrison with an idea. They made the bird crow and crow as if it were many, then shot the bird out of a cannon to demonstrate to the Turks they had plenty of food. The Turks were fooled by the trick and abandoned the assault. The town was saved and the locals thereafter liked to call themselves the Pickoki - the Roosters.
The Djurdjevac Castle itself is a beautiful example of the what is called a Wasserburg, a lowland fortress castle built primarily for military defense, essentially a single irregular octagonal structure with an inner courtyard and one gate tower. No grand royals lived within its walls, the upper floor of the fortress housed the soldier barracks, the officers in the tower and the courtyard held the horses and weapons. The Djurdjevac Castle now houses the city’s art museum, which they like to refer to as the Louvre of Croatia. A little ambitious, but the museum collection holds 2,000 works donated by local "naive" artist Ivan Lackovic Croata, only a portion of which are hung amoung the open wooden beams in the circular former barracks hall. The annual Picokijada Festival held in Durdevac the last weekend of June celebrates the events of the famous battle with concerts, sporting events and art displays, but smaller medieval reenactments are held at the castle on other weekends from spring to fall with a chance to watch a swordfight or learn the crafts of the time with locals in costume, an entertaining show for kids.
Durdevac may not be a destination of itself, but well worth a stop if finding oneself passing through the Podravina Valley on a tour of the wine vineyards covering the gentle slopes through this lovely central west region of Croatia between the Drava River (see Tvarda Osijek) and the wooded Bilogora hills. In the center of town, a stroll from the castle, the Church of St George is a lovely revival of an earlier Romanesque and Byzantine church with Baroque sculptures, and keep an eye up for the storks which nest on the roofs very common in this part of Croatia. The Picok Hotel in Durdevac is a modern and comfortable hotel (though they don't yet have online booking), with an excellent restaurant, (and a Disco Club - popular for wedding receptions) serving local Croatia specialties, the regional cakes and home-baked corn bread, as well as the favorite local recipe for chicken, though served at your table and fortunately not shot from a cannon. © Bargain Travel Europe
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