Žumberak – Budinjak, Tuščak

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July 9, 2009

For a change of landscape we (Danko, Vjeko and me) went to Žumberak. Žumberak is an incredible piece of highland (up to ca. 1120m) wilderness some 25 km west of Zagreb. It had been almost totally deserted for economic reasons, and it is a National Park. However, people are now slowly coming back so some ugly buildings have been built recently although the Park Administration is doing it best to keep it visually clean.

We met Morena (that is the Park’s archeologist, Morena Želle) at the Park Headquarters at Grdanjci, and went to Budinjak. We had been there before. Morena has discovered there remains of a somewhat elongated tetraconch (14m!) underneath the ruins of the Greek Catholic church of St. Petka. Next to it there is a 19th ct. Roman Catholic church of St. Petronila. Ths is typical of Žumberak. Since mid-16th ct, when the Greek Catholics moved in fleeing from Turks, there are two churches next to each other almost everywhere.

The Budinjak discovery is a mystery. No archeological material, no trace of fire. Is it an early Slavic site? There is a tetrtaconch at the beginning of every early Slavic Christian architecture in stone (Wawel, Prague, Mikulčice, now in Continental Croatia?). Budinjak is a hut where Perun hit Veles with his lightnings, as amply shown in Belorus folk tradition (see Katičić). St. Petka is a Saint that follows Mokoš in Eastern Christian tradition. So it would see we have them all at the peak of the Budinjak. Maybe Morena one day finds a conclusive piece of evidence.

In the meantime, the excavated vestiges have been under the process of restoration, and the site was visited the same day by a bunch of old guys like myself, Dr. Milan Kruhek, Damjan Lapajne, Tomica Petrinec and the supervisor of the works. We spent an hour or so being very learned without concluding anything, then we split, and Morena took us to Tuščak. What a lovely site. A fine, not too strenuous 30 min climb from the end of the tiny paved road and a tiny village, to a marvelously placed double turnburg. The eastern turm was built, according to dendrochronology 1198 +-, a proof of my persistent argument that such things were built in Croatia in the 12th ct. The other, western turm, was built later, probably during the war for the Babenberg succession around 1260, and was never finished. The castle was taken by King Bela IV before the turm was finished and the Spanheim family was chased from Žumberak, since then lost to the Holy Roman Empire.

A super excursion well fitted between two big downpours.

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