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Marija Bistrica
Marija Bistrica is a town and municipality in the Krapina-Zagorje County in central Croatia, located on the slopes of the Medvednica mountain in the Hrvatsko Zagorje region north of the capital Zagreb.
If you mention the name of Marija Bistrica everybody will first think on the pilgrimages to the miraculous Mother of God in Bistrica. About 800 000 pilgrims come to Marija Bistrica evey year. They all come to seek a spiritual guidance, to make their vows to the Mother of God, to thank her for their granted prayers or just to pay their respects to the Queen of Croats. The sanctuary of the Mother of God in Bistrica has an important central place in the religious life of the Croatian people through all the periods.
The place Bistrica was first mentioned as an estate in 1209 which a Croatian-Hungarian king Andrew II gave to the parishioner Vratislav and the name Marija Bistrica first appeared in the 18th century related to the revelation of the miraculous statue of the Mother of God.
In 1545 a local priest hid the wonder working statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary with the Infant Jesus from the Turks and took the secret of its hiding place to his grave. The statue was discovered in 1588, when according to the records bright light shone from the place where it was buried. In 1650 the statue had to be once again hidden to be rediscovered in 1684.
Marija Bistrica has an old Marian shrine of the Black Madonna which is a place of pilgrimage and visited by hundreds of thousands of pilgrims every year. On 3 October 1998, Pope John Paul II visited Marija Bistrica and beatified Croatian Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac in front of a crowd of 500,000 Croatians.
In Marija Bistrica, Vatroslav Lisinski composed his first croatian opera "Ljubav i zloba", and reville "Prosto zrakom ptica leti" was also created here.
Since thousands of believers and visiters gathers here, tourism offer is rich and restaurants offer the best local specialties and wines.

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