It was built in 1254, after the catastrophic invasion of Tartars who had raided and devastated this area, burning and razing to the ground the two settlements now included in Zagreb: the burgher’s Gradec and the bishop’s Kaptol.
Even though magnificently fortified and always ready for battle, Medvedgrad was never attacked. On the contrary, the lords of Medvedgrad often filled their coffers and storehouses by plundering neighboring villages, and sometimes even, either by political or armed force, reached after Zagreb itself. The most notorious of them were the counts of Celje, who in the mid-15th century terrorized the town to such extent that many townspeople of Gradec had to flee from their homes. Even today the scary stories about the countess Barbara of Celje – the ill famed Black Queen – circulate about the villages at the foot of the mountain.
Medvedgrad was abandoned in 1590, after the fortress was devastated by a terrible earthquake, and its last lords moved to their much more modern and comfortable manor in Šestine.
Since then the castle at the top of the hill has been left to decay. It was visited only by adventurers and treasure hunters, searching for the treasure which, according to lore, was hidden there by the Black Queen.
The systematic archaeological research had started only in 1979, and since then the walls have been conserved and some parts of this best preserved Croatian medieval castle have been reconstructed. Thus from the ruins emerged again the octagonal chapel of St. Philip and Jacob, the south defensive tower, the residential palace and some other parts of the ancient fortress.