500 Reasons to Visit Mount Medvednica
There are at least one thousand reasons why you should visit mount Medvednica, green hill on the north side of Zagreb. However, I’m going to stick with just 500 this time. These 500 reasons are in fact a single incredible story of a man who devoted a part of his life to build the most beautiful sight on mount Medvednica.
The name of the man was Vladimir Horvat. Not only did he enjoy exploring the mountain, but he found a pretty dangerous spot, hard to access, and he discovered pure beauty hidden behind the wilderness. Standing in that wilderness, he sets himself a quest. He starts building a stairway, carving every single step into a mountain. As a result, we can now all enjoy the amazing sight of 500 Horvat’s steps.
Mount Medvednica is easily accessible, with lovely and safe mountain trails. Zagreb locals often hike to the top of the mountain. It’s not too high, only about 1000 m, but it’s still immense. Most of the people living here have never seen some of the most famous sights up there. Many of my friends who grew up in Zagreb, don’t even know of 500 Steps, for example. I didn’t know about it either, until I joined a little hiking trip as a teenager. I was simply overwhelmed. Ever since, every now and then I find myself thinking about that amazing achievement that makes the meaning of life so much clearer. It also makes the way we live our lives so much more doubtful…
I’m not easily moved, but this is one of the most inspirational locations I have ever been to. To put it simple, a person spent several years of his life carving five hundred stone steps into the mountain. What was going on in that head of his? What on Earth inspired him, kept him loyal to his task, kept him focused til the last step? He went there for years all alone, to the part of the forest called Srniste… the name implies there are deers there. And if there are deers, I’m sure there are other wild animals just as well, maybe even boars?
The whole area simply feels magical, at times even a tiny bit scary. Sometimes, when I’m thinking about Mr Horvat’s quest, I’m sure it was the forest creatures that kept lightning a flame, especially when his little spark of desire was about to burn out. The whole area looks like a movie set, it’s the most enchanted part of the forest.
While he was working on the steps, he kept discovering tiny natural wonders. Like caves, one of them called Dwarf’s Little Cave… Did he really call it the dwarf’s cave simply because it was small? I know this sounds crazy from your side of the computer screen, but if you ever visit 500 Steps, you will probably feel you are surrounded by invisible elfs. And you will wonder – could that cave be the home of an actual gnome?
To pass the entire stairway, whether you’re going up or down, is quite exhausting. But let us remind ourselves again, someone built those stairs single-handedly, and it’s hard for us to even follow them? It works better than the Way of the Cross, so revelating and inspiring.
If you’re visiting mount Medvednica, try to find the 500 steps. The experience is going to remain carved into your memory, and maybe even into your heart, just like in my case. It certainly helped me realise that a person’s life goal doesn’t need to be world-altering. It doesn’t need to make a huge and obvious difference. But if you hear whispers in your head telling you to follow a goal, any goal… work hard to get there and you’re bound to leave a touch of magic in this world.
In other words, that strange man, Vladimir Horvat, is one of my personal sources of inspiration. When I feel down, and everything seems pointless, I remember how he kept going, and building those stairs. The thought of that strange man literally fuels me with magical inspiration.