Bisag was once a fortress, a castle and a place of inspiration. Nowadays, all that is left of this glorious old castle are the remains of two towers and a chapel in which several wall paintings are still intact, including scenes from the life of Christ. Under those ruins, in the encircled crypt lies the restless Count Edgar de Corberon, a great hero and diplomat whose dying wish was to be buried in his favorite place, Bisag Castle.
Remains of Bisag Castle are located in a small town of Bisag (Varaždin county) in Zagorje region of Croatia, about 22 miles (or 35 km) north-east of Zagreb, the country’s capital town.
The history of this medieval fortress which was later converted into a baroque style castle is very old. Although the exact date of its construction is unknown, historic documents say that it existed as a fortified city at the end of the 14th century. In the 15th century, it was the most important Burg along the river Lonja, and in the 16th and 17th centuries, Bisag was a castrum full of life. After 1918, the castle was partially demolished and restored. During World War II, it was burned down in a fire and is still in a poor, devastated state to this day.
Although Bisag is located along the main road and is an important historical monument, no one is interested enough in its reconstruction, so it is left to slowly disappear.
The medieval city had the shape of a square with four circular towers at the corners, and a rectangular tower rising in the middle of the entrance facade. It was surrounded by a ditch that is still visible today. There was also a bridge leading into the city.
Bisag in its tumultuous history has changed many owners including Drašković Trakoščanski noble family who owned the castle for about 100 years, but it was Patačić family that had it in their possession the longest. One of Bisag’s oldest owners were Bisaški (Bikszadi) and Kaštelanović family. The Drasković family held the castle until the end of the 19th century when it fell into the hands of a Hungarian bank due to indebtedness. At one point it was home to Croatian writer Milan Begović who wrote the lyrics for a famous Croatian opera Ero s onoga svijeta (Ero the Joker, literally Ero from the other world)
Very important to the history of the Castle is Count Edgar Bouree de Corberon, who is still buried in the castle’s crypt. According to the old stories, people have defiled Corberon’s grave several times looking for valuables. Due to such vandalism, the spirit of Count Edgar de Corberon caused the Lonja River to flood the surrounding area. After that people started lighting candles in St. Florian’s chapel, praying for Corberon’s soul.
Count Edgar Bourée de Corberon (1807-1861) was a descendant of an old French noble family (born in Troissereux, Oise department in northern France), polyglot and interesting Croatian intellectual. In 1845 he arrived at Zagreb and settled in Januševac Castle, the most beautiful Croatian palace at that time. He was a good friend to Ban of Croatia Josip Jelačić. In his letters to the Hannover king Ernest August I written in French, Corberon wrote about Croatia as his second homeland, about dangers of intensive magnetization in turbulent years around 1848.
His generous material support of various Croatian institutions persuaded him to leave the palace of Januševac, and to settle in Bisag. In 1851/52 he urged Ban Josip Jelačić to reestablish the University of Zagreb to the full extent (in 1850 the Faculty of Philosophy was canceled), offering his help as a potential lecturer. As a witness of an epidemic of typhus and cholera in Croatia in 1851 he asked the Austrian monarchy officials to open the Faculty of Medicine in Zagreb, suggesting its precise structure. Unfortunately, the faculty of medicine was opened only in 1917., during the reign of Emperor Franz Joseph I.
By the end of his life, Corberon wrote his program for the expansion of the Royal Academy, but the sudden illness and death prevented him from completing of his work. According to his last will, he wanted to be buried in Croatia in Bisag. How much he loved his new homeland can be seen from the fact that even obituary notices in his native Troisseraux in France had to be printed in Croatian.
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