UNESCO City of Music

since 2023

Legend has it that the composer Emmerich Kálmán met a certain countess named Marica in Varaždin, after whom he not only named his famous operetta but also dedicated its most renowned song, “Komm mit nach Varaždin,” to the city. For decades, his iconic operetta has delighted audiences worldwide and brought fame to Varaždin, a city that has always been an inspiration to artists. Many musicians have found inspiration in Varaždin, shaping the city’s culture and contributing to its rich musical heritage, which Varaždin proudly boasts. Among them is the hometown of the virtuoso guitarist and composer Ivan Padovec, known worldwide for his invention – the ten-string guitar.

Today, Varaždin’s musical treasure chest preserves invaluable musical riches, from the Music School, one of the oldest and most prestigious educational institutions in Croatia, nurturing world-class musicians, to renowned musicians, successful vocal ensembles, cultural associations, instrument makers, international music competitions, and a plethora of cultural music events, concerts of all genres, and renowned festivals with a long tradition. In addition to its architecture, Varaždin’s baroque legacy is deeply rooted in its music, which has been promoted for over half a century by the Varaždin Baroque Evenings, one of the world’s most eminent festivals of its kind. Today, Varaždin’s most recognizable brand is Špancirfest, Croatia’s most famous street festival, which transforms the streets and squares into centers of music, art, and entertainment at the end of summer.

Varaždin pulsates with music throughout the year, offering a variety of genres and musical content, innovative projects, and opportunities to enjoy music, such as music on balconies, musical-instrumental programs on the organs in Varaždin Cathedral, or  innovative musical box on wheels that provide a unique experience in the main city square. An indispensable attraction is the Verglec, a mechanical musical device that is hand-operated and reproduces specific melodies, attracting both locals and visitors with its unique appearance and attractiveness. Saturday mornings in Varaždin, from May to September, are particularly lively, when most of these events take place, allowing musical Varaždin to breathe fully.

Varaždin is the first city in Croatia to proudly hold the title of a UNESCO City of Music. This remarkable achievement symbolizes the culmination of years of efforts and dedication by the City of Varaždin in promoting musical culture and heritage, while also serving as an inspiration for further development of Varaždin as a center of musical excellence.

Varaždin holds a special place among the historic cities of Central Europe. Although not the oldest or largest, Varaždin is characterized by the unique romantic charm of its well-preserved historical core, filled with magnificent witnesses of its rich nine-century history and its former status as the Croatian capital: playful facades of baroque palaces, tall towers of numerous churches, urban medieval layout, and the stunning fairytale castle in the heart of the city. The Old Castle, a Gothic-Renaissance fortress located in the historical core, is Varaždin’s most famous landmark.

Mission of the City of Varaždin as a UNESCO City of Music

  1. Preservation and promotion of rich musical heritage: The City of Varaždin is committed to preserving and promoting its rich musical heritage, including traditional musical forms such as folklore, as well as other cultural events associated with the city’s musical history. Through activities and programs, the city will nurture the legacy of its musical tradition and encourage its transmission to future generations.
  2. Encouragement of music sector development: Active support will be provided for the development of the music sector through investments in education, entrepreneurship, and culture. This includes supporting music education programs, encouraging entrepreneurial initiatives in the music sector, and improving infrastructure that supports music activities and events.
  3. Creation of an inclusive musical environment: The city will use music as a means of inclusion and integration of different social groups. Through the organization of educational programs, workshops, and cultural events, Varaždin will encourage the participation of all citizens in musical activities and create an inclusive environment.
  4. Diversification and innovation in the music scene: The city will promote diversification and innovation in the music scene by supporting new genres, experimental projects, and technological innovations, as well as improving the infrastructure needed for their implementation. This will contribute to the development of a rich and dynamic music ecosystem and encourage creativity among music artists and professionals.
  5. Development of sustainable tourism and culture: The City of Varaždin will strive to develop sustainable tourism and culture through the organization of cultural events, festivals, and the promotion of the city’s rich cultural heritage, with a special emphasis on music.
  6. International cooperation and recognition: The city will actively participate in international cooperation in the field of music with the aim of recognizing and promoting the status of UNESCO City of Music. Through participation in projects, exchange of experiences, and collaboration with other cities in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, Varaždin will strengthen its reputation as an important center of musical creativity and innovation.


Dorotea Solomun
UCCN Focal Point

T: +385 42 210987
M: +385 91 6079066

Ivana Padovca 3
42 000  Varaždin
Republika Hrvatska

Facts and Figures

Population – 44,000 in Varaždin, 176,000 in Varaždin County

Area Varaždin is situated along the Drava River in the northwest part of Croatia. The city covers an area of 59.45 km², with the central area spanning 34.5 km². In 1767, Varaždin became the first capital of Croatia, but it lost this status after a major fire in 1776.

Latest Music Projects

Varaždin project

Green Streets of Europe residency project – call for applications