Medvednica mills and watermills

Mill “Gračanski ribnjak”

On the Ribnjak stream in Gračani there allegedly used to be 13 mills. Only one is today still there and it has been protected as a cultural monument. You will find it if you take the Isce Street in Gračani for about 300 m to the north and just before the small path to the chapel of St. Rafael you turn down left into Gračanski ribnjak Street. This street will take you to a place where a small mill has been standing since 1773. The present-day mill was most likely built in the second half of the 19th century, from  hewed oak beams, conjoined by a special technique; the so-called “nemške vugle” technique. Wheat is still milled there for the needs of Banić family, but also for the interest of frequent visitors.

Mill Ročić, Markuševačka Trnava

In a small Markuševac village called Ročići, near the bus stop where the Bidrovec stream flows into the stream Trnava, there is a charming, recently completely renovated mill whose wheel is powered by the water from the Bidrovec stream. The old mill was built here in 1888 but it became completely dilapidated, so in 2007 an exact replica, made of oak beams typically conjoined using the “hrvatske vugle” technique, was built in its place. The millstone, the heart and soul of every mill, has been preserved from the old mill. It still regularly mills small quantities of corn or barley.

Mill Ferenčak, Bidrovec

According to villagers’ stories, there used to be 10 watermills on the Bidrovec stream which were all destroyed in the great Bidrovec flood of 1953. The Ferenčak Mill is the oldest preserved mill in Markuševac area. The locals call it “Jurencov melin”, after the nickname of its current owner, Juraj Ferenčak – Jurenc. The house is made of horizontally laid, sawed and hewed wooden beams conjoined according to the “njemačke vugle” or “njemački vez” techniques (German fashion of conjoining). There are two rooms in the mill: one for the mill installation and the other with chests, flour bags and a bed for the miller. The mill installation is completely preserved and is still functioning. You will find a small wooden mill crouched along the stream under two big weeping willows on Bidrovečka Road, approximately across the house number 53.

Mill Jakopović, Čučerje

According to some stories, there used to be 11 watermills on the Lipa stream, which flows through Čučerje. Unfortunately, none of those mills is still working, but it is still possible to see several of their charming wooden houses which conceal the static mill stones. One of those wooden mills is located on the right hand side of the road, immediately after leaving the centre of Čučerje in the direction of Marija Snježna. A few kilometres upstream, in Gornje Čučerje, in the hamlet Jakopovići, there is a mill built in the second half of the 19th century as a communal mill of the Jakopović family. You will find this mill if you cross the bridge over the stream in Jakopovići and walk about 30 meters downstream. On its door you will be welcomed by carved warm wooden sun rays.

Mills on the Vukov Dol stream

The Vukov stream flows along a serpentine valley, along the road which branches towards the village Planina Gornja from the Ban Ivan Mažuranić Road, which leads from Kašina towards Marija Bistrica. There used to be 10 watermills on this stream. Since the second half of the 20th century these mills have shared the destiny of most Medvednica mills: left to the hand of time, they have seen better days. Their value as a cultural artefact was recognized and noticed a long time ago, but only in the last ten years the first steps towards their reconstruction and rehabilitation were taken. The association “Planinska družina”, whose main goals are the protection of wooden and stone watermills in Planina Gornja area and the construction of educational ethno path along the Vukov Dol stream, has been very active in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of these mills. Two mills have been reconstructed at the present time: the stone “Tarandekov melin” and the concrete “Boscev melin”. Along with extensive works on the rehabilitation of the landslide, the wooden “Babićev melin”, with beams conjoined in the “hrvatski vez” (Croatian fashion) and preserved stone foundation, is also being reconstructed.

Brick Mill Dubravica

On the western part of Medvednica, north of the Zagreb neighbourhood Gajnice, there is a street called Dubravica which follows a stream of the same name. On the house number 109 of this street there is a small brick watermill. According to the memories of Dubravica villagers, there used to be 7 mills on this little stream. Dubravica mill was built in the 19th century as a communal mill of the Coljak family and is one of few mills on Medvednica whose wheel still cheerfully spins, thanks to the Trotić family who keep it functioning.

Majsecov Mill, Donja Stubica

On the northern, Zagorje side of Medvednica, many mill wheels used to turn around on mill-studded streams. One of them was the recently reconstructed Majsecov Mill in Obrtnička Street in Donja Stubica. Beside the small watermill, three traditional Zagorje houses were also reconstructed. Together with the mill they now make the tourist attraction “Majsecov mlin”. Grains of various types of corn are grinded in this mill again. The mill is surrounded by Sunny Valley, home of the unique Croatian Iris Garden, opened thanks to the joint efforts of the Majsec family, Donja Stubica Tourist Board and many citizens and experts who sent iris rhizomes from all over Croatia, or came to plant them themselves. The garden is at its most attractive in May when thousands of different-coloured iris flowers blossom, but the mill is worth visiting during other months, when the estate hosts traditional fairs and other interesting events connected to the turbulent past of the Stubica area.

Did you know?

The name Iris comes from the old Greek goddess – messenger of gods, because it was believed this flower grows in a place where her rainbow touched the ground. This plant got its Croatian name “perunika” after the old Slavic god Perun, because according to the legend, it grows in the place where his lightning strikes the ground. Inhabitants of Zagorje also connect this flower with the divine. They derived its name from the sacred word alleluia, so here iris is called “leluja” or “ljeljuja”.

Sawmill Bliznec

Medvednica’s streams did not just power mills for grinding wheat and oilseeds – many sawmills, textile factories and mills for powdering raw materials for production of paper and stoneware were also powered by their water. On the Bliznec stream, downstream from the forest cottage, by the old city tollbooth, there is an old sawmill, which now accommodates a catering facility. The sawmill was built in 1898 but it was defunct during the Second World War. The sawmill used to produce wheelbarrows. In 1992 it was reconstructed by “Šumarija Zagreb” and turned into small exhibition area with old timber processing machines. An old mill wheel, which used to power the sawmill before a more efficient turbine was installed, is attached to the façade of the building. The area around the sawmill is now arranged for recreation and provides an educational path “Šumska staza Bliznec” which leads towards the city, downstream from the sawmill.

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