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Mountain chapels

Since ancient times people have felt awe and gratitude towards mountains, and our Medvednica is no exception. Numerous evidence that our Neanderthal ancestors started developing spirituality were found in Veternica Cave, the oldest human “settlement” on Medvednica. This is also witnessed by the graves in which the dead were buried ritually, in a precisely determined position, as well as the stone niche in which the inhabitants of Veternica buried the skulls of cave bears. This leads us to a conclusion that these Palaeolithic hunters worshipped the cult of the cave bear and had developed special techniques for hunting those magnificent animals. On Medvednica there are also remains of altars from the Roman times dedicated to important Roman gods: Jupiter, Silvanus and Hercules.

The Middle Ages brought about a new kind of spirituality, so sacral buildings on Medvednica were built in accordance with that. First churches and chapels were built on lower slopes of the mountain, near villages and settlements. The first chapel erected high on the mountain was the Medvedgrad Chapel of St. Philip and Jacob. After its demise in the late 16th century, a wooden chapel was built on Veliki Plazur in dedication to St. Barbara, the patron saint of miners. In place of this chapel now stands the neo-gothic St. Jacob’s Chapel. In the 17th century pilgrims started to travel to the Marian shrine in Marija Bistrica, and several important pilgrims’ routes lead across Medvednica. The charming Chapel of Mary of the Snows was built in the 19th century along the pilgrims’ way from Zagreb, on one of its stations. The Chapel of Our Lady of Sljeme, Queen of Croats was built in 1932, in the immediate vicinity of Sljeme, the highest top of Medvednica. The youngest Medvednica chapel was built in 2000 in the honour of Croatian martyrs, and it is located on a slope under the mountain hut “Lipa-Rog” on the eastern side of the mountain.