In Croatia, wherever you find yourself, you will hear many interesting historical stories. It seems like an endless source of legends and myths. For many of them, there aren’t any written documents, only storytelling, from father to son. Once in Đurđevac, a small provincial town in Koprivnica-Križevci County in Croatia, you will hear one very strange, almost unbelievable story. Locals will not call it a legend, but a truth. They grew up with that story. Stay with me and listen to the story about a famous rooster. Discover how one rooster saved the town of Đurđevac.
The old town of Đurđevac represents the fortress castle with its surroundings. It is believed that the castle was built in the 14th century. The main purpose of the castle was the military defense of the town. It has a small courtyard surrounded by octagonal structured walls with one tower. On the bottom of the tower is a gate. The castle itself wasn’t built to be a beautiful place for the royalty. On the contrary, rich families have never lived in this castle. On the upper floor were the barracks for soldiers, and everything inside the castle was subdued for its primary purpose - defense. Today here is placed the city art museum. Locals like to call it the Louvre of Croatia. In the place of the former barracks, there is an open hall with wooden pillars where art exhibitions are held. In this museum, you can see an exhibition of a local painter, Ivan Lacković-Croata, who donated his painting to the museum. From the first step inside the museum, you will be followed by the stories of a famous history of this place and region.
In the 16th century, the Ottoman Empire was coming from the east. Ulam-beg, the main general of the Ottoman army, surrounded the city walls and started the siege, that lasted for days, and the inhabitants were doomed to starvation. They needed a clever idea of how to defend the city. One old lady advised the army to shout out the last remaining rooster from the cannon across the city walls. When Turks saw the young rooster, they assumed the town had plenty of food, and that they will need much more days for a siege. They were slowly becoming out of food and decided to stop the siege and move on with the conquests leaving Đurđevac behind. The Turks named this place "the town of picoke" ('picoke' means 'rooster' in the local language). Ulam-beg cursed the city, and the curse said that the citizens and their children would be called Picoke. You can hear the locals using this name with pride even today, after more than five centuries.
Visit Đurđevac, and meet its unusually proud residents who will tell you the story of how one rooster saved their town. Find out yourself if this is only a legend or a true story.
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