Đurđevac, The Rooster Town (Croatia)
Between the river Drava and the wooded region of Bilogora are the orchards, meadows and vineyards which make up the county of Koprivnica-Križevci, at the heart of which lies Durdevac.
Durdevac’s name is evoked for the first time in the 13th century but it is not until the 15th century that the city develops into military headquarters. The town’s historical, cultural and traditional heritage, based on the Legend of the Rooster, revives the administrative, cultural and economic centre of the Podravina region.
The Sands of Durdevac, or the Bloody Sands as they are known locally, are a distinctive European habitat of sand loving vegetation, unique flora and fauna boasting indigenous species and the visible remnants of sand dunes.
The Borik Park Forest has ancient forests of pine and locust-trees and visitors can enjoy meandering paths that are well kept and marked for the benefit of walkers, runners, trekkers, cyclists and athletes looking for cross-country training.
The area is an untapped source of geo-thermal waters.
Durdevac houses exhibitions in the Stari Grad gallery and the old town gallery situated in the centre fortification. The old town gallery is considered the Croatian Louvre following the do fine arts lovers a unique way to visit the town and galleries.
With close on a thousand exhibits, Slavko Cambe is an ethnographic collection of artifacts protected by the Ministry of Culture. It gives visitors a real insight into the everyday lives of the region’s inhabitants, as they unfolded over the centuries.
The church of St George, the patron saint of Durdevac, is a re-interpretation of an early Croatian church with Romanesque and Byzantine elements. The list of precious sacral monuments of culture and history also includes the Baroque sculptures on the three original altars in the 18th century chapel of St Rosaria.
Food and wine
The wine roads of the Durdevac countryside pass through the most picturesque of the vineyards, situated on the slopes of gently meandering valleys. Driving along, the visitor passes traditional architecture preserved in the old vineyard huts. These hold numerous old items of ethnographic heritage and the wine sampling rooms on family homesteads are open to visitors.
The region is famous for its various types of cakes, or diganke, zlevanke, mazanic, pogacice and prkaci, home-baked corn bread and dishes prepared according to old, almost forgotten recipes. Chicken is a particularly favoured element in local, savoury food.
The Rooster, spirit and folklore
The town’s intriguing name is a celebration of guile over force, referring back to when the townspeople held in the 16th century a besieging army at bay by deluding them into thinking Durdevac could hold out indefinitely thanks to a plentiful supply of food. Down to its last, stringy old rooster, the townspeople made the creature crow and crow and crow again, leaving the attackers with the idea that their attempts to starve the inhabitants into submission were never going to work.
This gives rise to the Picokijada festival, picok meaning rooster, at which events of the battle are replayed alongside concerts, sports events and art displays. The legend of the rooster has put its stamp not only on the town of Durdevac but on the people’s identity as well – the festival has been staged for the last forty years and has been declared a cultural asset of Croatia.
Alongside the legend of the Picoki within the Picokijada there are some 30 other events taking place, and one which draws the greatest number of visitors is “Podravina year on year”, a procession of specially decked horse-drawn carts and a display of folklore and ethnographic heritage of the folk of Podravina. Traditional weaving workshops, and the linen spreads and towels are now being offered as the souvenirs of Durdevac.
Durdevac stages a range of other cultural, sports and entertainment events throughout the year – the Small Carnival, Chicken-gastro, the Kukuricek music festival, Durdevo/St George feast, “Mamice so štrokle pekli” (Mamma baked the cheese strudel), the Podravina salon of art photography, the pumpkin festival to name just some.
Durdevac is an attractive town intersected by two important cycling routes – the Drava route and the Bilodrava route. There is a “Gallery Road” which leads to exhibitions and galleries in various towns, at the same time bringing together cyclists and lovers of fine arts.
Durdevac, The Rooster Town (Croatia) [260 KB]