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The Urban Development and Spatial Organisation of Medieval Varaždin

Mirela Slukan Altić ; Institut društvenih znanosti Ivo Pilar, Zagreb, Hrvatska

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 616 Kb


str. 5-33

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Based on the archival sources, the author analyses the urban development and topography of Varaždin from the thirteenth to the end of the fifteenth century. By taking into account medieval charters and the results of hitherto conducted archaeological excavations, she comes to new conclusions regarding the spatial organisation, development and course of building of the medieval city of Varaždin and its urban functions as one of the central settlements of medieval Slavonia. Based on the analyses of sources, a reconstruction of the spatial organisation of the city in the High and the Late Middle Ages has been made.
Both the microlocation and the internal structure of medieval Varaždin were dictated by its position as a focus of traffic. The city came into existence in an area bordered by three important regional roads, with a tradition reaching back to Antiquity, at the intersection of which, and immediately beside the place of transit over the River Drava, the city was built. On that intersection of the roads the royal castle, the seat of the Count of Varaždin, developed – and beside this, as a suburbium, likewise developed the city of Varaždin, the oldest free royal city in the area of Croatia and Hungary as a whole (chartered in 1209). Regarding the location of the objects with central functions (the church of St. John, the Franciscan convent, the hospice and the parish church), which were at the same time also the main factors in meeting and trade, it may be concluded that the medieval settlement of Varaždin in the first period of its development had the form of a vicus, that is, a settlement that developed alongside a widened street-square (via exercitualis) adequate for trading, which may be found as a root of most Central European towns.
Because of the strong development of trade, crafts and monetary economy in general, Varaždin experienced its strongest rise during the fifteenth century. The rise of the city influenced the acceleration of its construction, but also an important change of its internal structure. By that time it was no longer a non-fortified suburbium centred around the street-square, but a well-organised city with regulated fortifications, a main square and a network of streets, which were hierarchically defined and functionally specialised. Perhaps the most dynamic period of the development of Varaždin happened during the time of the rule of the Counts of Cili (Celje), who were the owners of the castle of Varaždin from 1397 to 1456, when the greatest changes in the city’s urbanism occurred. It may be stated with some ease that Varaždin acquired its formal urban status in 1209, but it was precisely in the age of the Counts of Cili that its urban settlement took on the physiognomy and functions of a developed medieval city. Thanks to its strong administrative and political (the seat of a county, the seat of a lordship), defensive (the castle, city walls), economic (fairs, trade and crafts) and ecclesiastical functions (the seat of a parish and an archdeaconry), it may be concluded that as early as the High Middle Ages, and particularly in the Late Middle Ages, Varaždin had pronouncedly strong central functions, which ensured for it the position of the second-ranking city within medieval Slavonia in terms of its importance.

Ključne riječi

the city of Varaždin; Middle Ages; urban development; urban topography; central functions of a town

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