At the northern edge of the historical centre of Varaždin separated from the city by embankments and moat, is the Old Town Castle of Varaždin. This military fortress was unassailable from the outside due to the moat which was fed by the river Drava canal and the cannons inside the walls that in some places were 2.5 metres thick. Inside is the Old Town’s Renaissance Palace, whose aristocratic owners have continually changed and adjusted it to suit their tastes from the 13th to the 19th Century. Today the entire Old Town is the Varaždin City Museum.
Former illustrious owners include the Counts of Celje, Jan Vitovac, Ivaniš Korvin, Juraj Brandenburg, Counts Ungnadi and many others. The Erdödy Family ruled the City for the longest time, and the first owner was the famous General Tomo Bakač Erdödy, who defeated the Turks at Sisak in 1593. The Old Town was the Capital of the Varaždin County, and the Erdödy family were its hereditary governors. That’s why their family coat of arms which was officially confirmed by Queen Maria Therese in 1763, is still in use. The last owner of the Town sold it in 1923. The Varaždin City Museum was founded by the Varaždin Museum Society and officially opened in 1925 in a few rooms in the Old Town. Initially, the displays consisted of items donated to the newly opened museum by renowned Varaždin families.
Over the years, the size and variety of the Museum Collection have increased, and today the Varaždin City Museum has specialized Archaeological, Historical, Cultural, Ethnographic and Entomological Departments. Museum Departments are housed in several buildings of historical value in the center of the City: the Gothic-Renaissance fortress Old Town, the baroque Sermage, the classical Herzer Palace and the Watchtower in the Old Town complex. The Museum’s Departments currently have four permanent exhibitions including: the Cultural and Historical Department in the Old Town, Entomology in Herzer Palace and the Gallery of Old and Contemporary Masters in the Sermage Palace. The Archaeological and Historical Department in the Herzer Palace is currently being prepared and is almost ready to open permanently.