Zumberak Mountain

Popular destinations around Zagreb – Žumberak

One of the most popular destinations among the citizens of Zagreb for one day – full day trip are the Žumberak-Samobor hills. The natural beauty of the hills and peaks like Okić (495 m) south of Samobor, Oštrc (753 m) and Japetić (871) are on regular itineraries of Zagrebian mountaineers. The central point of the region is a small town of Samobor. Now, the Samobor hills and Plesivica are populated enough, with well-known wine roads and tourist itineraries. We offer hear a discovery and a visit to the central part of the Žumberak Mountain filled with dense forests, hidden streams, little picturesque villages and family farms.

Žumberak Mountain is the central part of the Žumberak-Samobor hills.

Zumberak Mountain is one of the least populated areas in Croatia, with a constant emigration during the last one hundred years. But this is not the downside, this is actually its best comparative advantage! And although the emigration left the region nearly abandoned, the Žumberak Mountain with the Samobor hills and Plešivica are all three the most popular excursion destinations of the Zagrebians.


Here you can read a short presentation of the Žumberak Mountain written by the local resident, M. Goran Klanfar.

The massif of Žumberak follows the Croatian – Slovenian border. It’s located in the western part of central Croatia and belongs mostly to the Zagreb County. The biggest part of Žumberak massif consists of the Žumberak Mountain spreading 40 km NE-SW. In the North the steep slope ends in the Krka valley, in the South a mild slope ends in the Karlovačko pokuplje, in the East it descends in mild slopes to the Sava valley and in the West it passes into the Kočevska plateau. The highest peak of Žumberak Sv. Gera (1181 m) is in the West.

The massif of Žumberak has the characteristics of three different regions: sub-alpine, Pannonian and Mediterranean which is manifested in the flora, fauna and relief. From the geological point of view there are karst and alpine terrains.

Karst terrain is predominant in most part of the central Žumberak Mountain and is composed of carbonate rocks – the tufa rocks that was extracted from the streams to be used as a building material for houses and farm buildings. This was the most popular building material in the central Žumberak region between Sošice and Gornja Vas, and partially in the Samobor part of Žumberak Mountain.

The Alpine terrain is found in the northern part of Žumberak (Samobor part of the Žumberak massif) and its characteristic is the dolomite rocks and indented relief.

Archeological remains discovered in Žumberak indicate that there was a mining activity in the area (copper, iron, lead). Today the silica sand mining is predominant for the production of glass and building stone.



Žumberak spreads through three climate regions: continental, alpine and Mediterranean. Those influences overlap so in Žumberak you can find plants from the Mediterranean area like oregano and St. John’s Wort, plants from the alpine area like thyme – the citrus variety which usually grows above 800 m above sea level in the Alps, and the plants typical for the continental Croatia: hellebore, snowdrop and 30 types of orchid.


It’s not known when the pillar was built, but it’s probably from the 17th century when New Town of Žumberak (Novi Grad Žumberak) was built. The name “pilaster” just like the kaikavian dialect variety of the word – Pil (Croatian Zagorje, Međimurje) means the same thing – column – and in particular church column or saint’s column.


These types of constructions are linked to the Alps, Slovenia to Carinthia and East Tirol. The pillar in Žumberak is the easternmost object of the group of four-sided alpine pillars – tabernacle. There are three stories of the pillar: the first one tells us about building such monuments on important crossroads to mark the exact orientation to the north-east-west-south, the second story tells us that the pillars were built for protection against disease (plague, cholera) and against evil (statues, paintings-icons inside the pillars), but the origin of the pillar is not known – whether it’s profane or sacral. The third story tells us about the pillory which served to punish offenders during the Military Frontier in Croatia, allegedly four people were walled up alive in the pillar according to the legend that should be checked and proved.


The houses in Žumberak are built mostly in stone or wood, or the combination of both: the cellar in stone, and the living area in wood. Unfortunately not one house has been preserved with straw roof, but we can still see the clay rooster on the crest of the roof, a relic from the period of Turkish incursions when the Ottoman Empire exerted great influence on this region that was part of the Military Frontier until 1884. In nearly every old garden you can find, and even in some new ones, a lily – the symbol that beauty knows no hate or intolerance.

The road that leads through Žumberak today was built in the 18th century under the supervision of Nikolaus Ritter von Weymann (monument in Žamarije). They used a part of an old Roman road that went through Žumberak in the direction of Germania.


In Žumberak – the name for the mountain, for the municipality and for the village – there were two towns: Old town Gradina (Stari grad Gradina) and Sichelburg – Shumberk or Uskočka regiment, which was demolished in 1947. Only a part of the western wall was preserved.

In Žumberak two ceremonies are held in the Catholic Church: Roman Catholic or western ceremony and Greek Catholic or eastern ceremony. Or as said by the reverend Pajić: in Žumberak we breathe in both lungs.

During the 15th and the 16th century Žumberak was devastated to the point that today’s inhabitants of Žumberak are the descendants of immigrants. Every village has its specificities regarding the origin of its inhabitants and we can hear that in the diversity of dialects and languages: Bosnian, the sto-dialect, the “I” dialect of Croatian language.

Nearly every village in Žumberak has a sacral building: if it’s not the church then it’s a chapel, if there is not enough space for a chapel, then there is a simple crucifix.

The inhabitants of Žumberak are very introverted people, self-sufficient, but if the traveler gets stuck in Žumberak, help will be given in a second, and they will show their cordiality and hospitality instead of the highland harshness.

The central part of Žumberak is rich in water, the estimation is that there were around 150 mills, today only several are preserved, and the mill in Čunkova draga of the noble family Medven is a representative example of the construction of mills.

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