You can find Lupoglav at the crossing of the roads where the main route from Trieste to Rijeka branches towards the centre of the peninsula. The modern-day Lupoglav is the centre of a municipality spreading out from the slopes of the Učka and the Ćićarija down to Boljun Valley in the south. The place is teaming with new family detached houses built along the road.
However, there is no familiar vertical of a bell tower so often found in other Istrian places marking their centres. How come? In order to understand the current situation, one must raise their eyes towards the steep slopes of the Ćićarija and look for an elevation where the Mahrenfels Castle, the residence of the Lupoglav allodial estate, stood until the mid 17th century. The Castle was situated about 1.5 km east of today's town.
About 350 meters east of the railway station, on the left hand side, one can find an old building surrounded by a tall stone wall. This is not the old Mahrenfels Castle; it is a country mansion of the noble Brigido Family. The mansion was built soon after they had purchased the Lupoglav allodial estate in 1634 and decided to abandon the old castle on the hill. Count Pompeo I Brigido was an Austrian state secretary. His nephew and heir, Pompeo II Brigido, was the Governor and military commander of Trieste from 1787 to 1804 Lupoglav was owned by the Brigido Family until 1883.
The family ran their estate well and successfully introduced many agricultural novelties, particularly in livestock farming, e.g. breeding of merino sheep, Egyptian sheep and Angora goat. The estate was a model estate of its time and many Istrian farmers sent their heirs to learn practical estate, agriculture and farming management and one day to become independent and competent managers. On the other hand, the Brigidos were also remembered for their brutal behaviour towards their subjects, who were forced to lead uprisings such as, for example, the one which took place in 1847.
Following the road from the Brigido Castle for another 100 metres we come to a crossroads where we turn left. After about 150 metres there is a road turning right towards Brest. After another 500 m in the direction of Brest we come to the local cemetery. Along the western entrance to the cemetery a 500-meter long old drive will take us to the remnants of the ancient Mahrenfels Fort. We can notice that in some sections the drive was literally cut into the solid rock. In some places there are indentations at a regular distance caused by rig wheels.Lupoglav was first mentioned in a written document in 1064.
It was the deed of donation by King Henry IV where Lupoglav was mentioned as Lompaga; the Castrum de Lupoglau was mentioned in 1264 when it was granted in fealty to Henry of Pazin by the Patriarch of Aquileia. Since then Lupoglav experienced the same situation as the County of Pazin, first under the rule of the Counts of Gorizia and then of the Austrian Empire. The Castle was inhabited by castellans from various feudal families: the Ebersteins, the Herbersteins, the Kružićs, the Sinkovićs and the Eggenbergs. Sparse but however numerous historical records have been preserved from those times, some of them feature even romantic episodes. Thus it was recorded that Ana, the last heir of the Eberstein family remained widowed at the age of 22 and a powerful Styrian squire Ernest Lobmig hired a young Pazin captain Gunter Herberstein to ask Ana's hand in marriage on his behalf.
However, the young Herberstein fell in love at first sight and, forgetting his mission, proposed himself and Ana gladly accepted his proposal. The hurt squire Lobming occupied the Castle where the wedding was held the very next day and took the newlyweds in captivity in the Eppenstein Castle. They were released after a few months following an intercession by the Austrian Duke Ernest. It was also recorded that one of the heirs of the Lupoglav estate, Georg Herberstein, had a nervous breakdown in Neustadt, and put a saddle on his head instead of a helmet, jumped off his horse and forced his servants to do the same and follow him to Lupoglav. This incident was blamed upon an old peasant woman who, after being accused of witchcraft, was locked in a tower, where she died thus avoiding burning at the stake. The most famous issue of the Herberstein Family, who remained at Lupoglav for more than 150 years, was by all means Sigismund Herberstein (1486-1566), a soldier, diplomat and writer, a man who travelled twice to Russia as the Emperor's emissary.
His descriptions of the travels were published in 1549 and were the first to make Russia more familiar to the Europeans. Despite being born in Vipava, he spent most of his life in Vienna, where he was remembered for an episode that occurred during the Venice War in 1510. Upon hearing that the Venetians were besieging Pazin, as commander of the Austrian cavalry he decided not to ride to Graz to ask for help, but together with his 14 horsemen he assaulted Pazin directly from Lupoglav. He lifted the siege and consolidated the town defence preventing Venice from occupying Pazin. One of the owners of the Lupoglav Castle was a Captain from Senj, Petar Kružić, who excelled in the war against the Ottoman invaders and died in 1537 commanding the defence of Klis. At the beginning of the 17th century, the Castle of Lupoglav, then owned by, Ivan Sinkovich, also from Senj, provides a safe haven for a great number of Uskok soldiers. Under his lead these soldiers raided the neighbouring Venetian areas (Roč, Buzet, Rašpor). Ten years after Sinković's death, the estate was sold by Ferdinand of Austria to Count Eggenberg. After his death the new owner became Count Brigido from the beginning of our story. He decided to abandon the old Mahrenfels Castle, built on a difficult to access hill, and to build a new one in the plain.
Vela draga is the monument of exceptional geomorphologic value. It was created by water torrents which made a 3500 meter long canyon in limestone rocks. It starts at the Zrinščak tunnel and ends at the Boljunsko polje. It is special for its pointy rocks, with 50-90 meter tall towers, some of which were destroyed during the construction of the Učka tunnel. The highest part of the canyon is at 600 meters above the sea level, while the lowest is the one at the Boljunsko polje at the level of only 153 meters. The canyon is covered by lush vegetation ranging from willows and poplars to beech and jew. Some of it is the rainforest. Vela draga has been protected as a nature reserve and a geomorphologic monument of nature since 1963 and 1998, respectively. Apart from teaching about geological phenomena, this trail also teaches about alpine and free climbing, sports which have existed in Vela draga since 1931, when alpine climber Emilio Comici climbed his first alpine route. Vela draga has thus in time become a known climbing spot for acquiring precious experience by many Croatian and European alpine climbers.
Located under Ćićarija hills, Lupoglav is ideal as starting point for many marked mountain hiking trails. The area of the municipality also includes part of the Učka Nature Park, which with its natural diversity and richness of the living world enchants at all times of the year. Going from Lupoglav, Semić, Brest pod Učkom or Mariškići trails will take you to the most beautiful peaks of our mountains, from which you can enjoy the beautiful view of the Istrian peninsula, the Kvarner Bay, the Velebit Mountains of Gorski Kotar and for a bright day you can see the Julian Alps and the Dolomites.
You can find the overview of hiking trails (HGSS Mountain hiking map of Ćićarija) here
Information on where to buy a topographic and tourist map of Učka can be found on the site of Učka Nature Park
The trails are well marked and maintained thanks to the mountaineering society from Istria and Kvarner