Once upon a time, the Jastrebarsko and Sveta Jana region was a place of castles, forts, and curias. There were churches surrounded by massive walls, while the cattle gazed the pasturelands near the creeks where the mills worked. Today, the old architecture is still preserved but most of the mills are gone. The domestic animals are few, and children's play is not a sound of the streets anymore.
Still, the culture vultures and history buffs may find a lot of interesting sights here. In the very heart of Jastrebarsko is the castle Erdödy. It was first built by ban Matija Gereb in the 15th century, but from the end of 16th century the famous noble family Erdödy took possession of the castle and kept it until the family's ruin in 1922. It has a splendid park, a favourite walking area for the citizens today. Another big castle is in the village Slavetić. It was a symbol of the agricultural success of the Oršić family, which had orchards, vineyards, and meadows.
People here are pious Catholics, and the churches are an important part of the cultural landscape. The Franciscan monastery and their church of Holy Mary are keepers of the baroque interior and furniture, art pieces, the beautiful altars made by Giovanni de Rossi, organs, and especially the library full of incunabula, old manuscripts and books. The church of Saint Peter in the village of Petrovina is special for its Gothic remnants and valuable frescoes, while the chapel of Blessed Virgin Mary in the village of Volavje is famous for its monumental Baroque altar, stone carving and the wall surrounding the chapel in the very centre of the place.
But, the richness is to found in the people, their way of life and care for the past times. And yes, they really exist! Some of them unite in the Ethno Association Sveta Jana. They are fans and collectors of Sveta Jana stories and memories. The association works in the local school under the guidance of prof. Jasnica Vojvodić. She made the ethnic-collection of Sveta Jana in four parts: Družinska iža, a replica of the old household with the authentic items; Pinjica, a place for the vineyard tools and barrels; agriculture section; and folk costumes section.
Mrs Vojvodić talks to us and sometimes asks questions just like a true teacher. She recalls many ways to obtain the old items presented in the museum, from the old beds to the massive wooden tables and dowries. A special emphasis is given to the folk costumes and Mrs Vojvodić wore one of them in 2010 when she was chosen as the best village women in the nationwide contest for this title. Female folk costumes are well preserved, but the male is still to be found as there are not many pictures of men wearing the costumes. Already in the end of 19th century, men started to wear suits. Some ideas of male costumes can be found in the writings of the local ethnologist Vatroslav Rožić, but he wrote in the archaic local dialect which is sometimes really difficult to understand.
Another tradition of the area was one of the mills. There are numerous breams and creeks from Plešivica and Japetić Mountains. On the Draga Creek in Sveta Jana, there were once 20 mills! Miller was very honoured in the village. All the flour was made at his place, and lots of legends and memories are connected to the millers. One of such mills is the Godrijan's mill, which is fully refurbished and transformed in an ethnic corner by the association.
This mill was built in 1890, but was immediately destroyed by floods and really started working only in 1927. The miller lived usually alone or with a family in the Miller's House (Mlinareva iža), which can be visited by the mill itself. We step on the balcony (ganjak) from where people used to enter a small kitchen and living room. The main thing was the bread oven, which was also used as a fireplace. The whole complex includes the mill, water mill, Millers's House, and „komora“, a special small house built for the male offsprings, who would take a young woman inside. It had only the most necessary furniture, mostly a bed and a small cupboard. Is anyone having dirty minds? Well, we were astonished by the liberty of the miller's families. All of this was possible to return from the past thanks to the members of the ethnic association and especially Mr Zvonimir Celinšćak, who built all the wooden parts of the mill. He showed us how the system works and milled corn to give us a spectacularly clean, fresh and fragrant flour.
Back in Jastrebarsko, the artisan craft has a long tradition. As the viticulture is so developed here, several centuries ago the town had master coopers. Sadly, today only the cooper family Golub remains. They enjoy the status of the protected cultural good, as they have preserved the barrel making tools and products characteristic for this craft from the 19th century to the middle of 20th century. The visitors can see hammers, dividers, drawing knives, anvils, saws, etc. There is also a permanent exhibition of grape harvest and wine keeping. One can see different kinds of barrels, also the oldest one originating from 1843. Today, the cooper tradition is kept by brothers Milivoj Ivo and Miroslav Jan Golub. They have received us warmly in their home and showed us the exhibition but also their ongoing work in making and refurbishing barrels.