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Samobor - A Gastronomy Heaven near Zagreb

Updated: Feb 19, 2019

A picturesque town of Samobor is top weekend getaway for inhabitants of the Croatian capital Zagreb for more than a hundred years. Arrival in this town gives you an answer why. Beneath the stronghold of Old Town, a medieval free town of Samobor, spreads a merchant and guild city, famous and important for the cultural and national life of Croatian people, but also others. Equally attractive in any time of the year, it still preserves a peaceful and relaxed atmosphere.

Samobor is special by many things. Small but from the very start highly urban place, Samobor was temporary home for many noblemen. In 1242 Croatian and Hungarian king Bela IV stopped here to rest during his escape from Tatar invasion. The town was proclaimed a free merchant town then. In the beginning of 19thcentury, Napoleonic marshal Marmont slept in the Podolje Castle, while Livadić castle, today Samobor Town Museum, was a scene for romantic visions of Croatian Illyrian movement.

Samobor boasts with churches, chapels and manor houses, where old heritage is not only felt, but preserved in culture and gastronomy. The place connects rich urban culinary tradition with its surroundings, resulting in a spectacular mix of truly continental cuisine, probably among the best ones in the region. Merchant houses and artisans used to care for more refine cuisine, developed later by small nobility and artists. On the other side, rich peasant meals influenced the daily life of many Samobor inhabitants, who daily got their products fresh on central Samobor market; even today this is a major symbol of vividness of the Samobor cuisine.

Some dishes can be still found only in the nearby villages, such as terijet (an almost forgotten meal, used to be final meal after roast pork, goose or turkey, based on red wine, sugar, cinnamon, and bread; later Weingoulash took its place) or zlevanka (strong dinner made of corn flour, eggs, fat, sour sauce), while Cantilly sauce and Cake Marija are unmistakably pride of the urban gastronomy.

Basically, rural cooking uses more fat and smaller amount of eggs, meat, and other ingredients. Meat was always a luxury in the village, thus sour goulash (made with more or less mushrooms) or pasta with sauerkraut (krpice sa zeljem) are not followed with meat. Štrukle (cooked or baked pastry filled with cheese, can be sweet or salty) has its geographic boundary exactly in Samobor, where štrukle soup was not rare. People used to eat it for dinner or as a snack, mostly for workers in the fields, but today it is offered as an appetizer.

In some places you can still try Cantilly Sauce, named after Julijana Cantilly, great love of Croatian poet Stanko Vraz. Julijana was a member of famous Samobor merchant family, which had a shop on main Samobor square. Vraz dedicated his poems “Đulabije” to her, calling her Ljubica (Little Love). It is a sauce eaten with fish.

Samobor is town of carnival. During the winter, hladetina (a unique collage of pig’s head, ear, tongue, skin, etc, with some vegetables) was served, as a cold appetizer, and still a very favourite although odd dish. But at Carnival Saturday it was traditionally made for Carnival Tuesday, the final day of Carnival, when it was part of dinner. Carnival is, sadly, too often based only on famous krafne, but every year more and more people discover old Samobor beer halls, inns, and restaurants under the centuries old vaults.



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