The route north from Zagreb past Mount Medvednica and through the Stubica Valley leads to the Zagorje region, home to some of Croatia's most beautiful vistas and the best castles, shrines, and historic sites in the country. On the way, you'll be immersed in the Zagorje's appealing rural atmosphere, which hasn't changed much over the centuries. The Catholic faithful will want to stop at Marija Bistrica to see where Pope John II put controversial Croatian Archbishop Alojzije Stepanic on the road to sainthood. History buffs will make a beeline for the ethno village of Kumrovec (Staro Selo), where Josip Broz Tito was born. Anyone game enough to venture into the Croatian countryside should be on the lookout for the lovingly restored 17th-century Miljana Palace, which you must admire from afar as it is closed to the public and not completely renovated. However, there's no problem exploring the very public Veliki Tabor, one of Croatia's oldest castles. This formidable stone keep comes complete with ghosts and a windswept perch on a hill overlooking grasslands and the winding road, and it, too, is undergoing a face-lift.
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