Nettle story

Koprivnica, the capital of Podravina, owes its name, as you may guess, to none other than a plant we are not usually fond of – nettle (in Croatian: KOPRIVA). Therefore, we can say that Koprivnica is nettle town. This old Slavic name of not so popular nettle has stigmatized outr town for all times.

The creation of the toponym Koprivnica has, beyond a doubt, its basis in the vegetation element, largely dominant in this region (around watercourses) right around the time when our ancestors were in the process of determining the geographical terminology. More precisely, the oldest documents dating from 13th century (1207 and 1209), which mention Koprivnica (Quopurnicha), do not talk about the settlement, but mention the creek Koprivnica, which still bears the same name. It is assumed that, at the time, there was a settlement of the same name in the area of today’s old town, but was not mentioned in the documents. The name „Castrum Kopurnicha“, which refers to the old fort near Koprivnica, was first mentioned in the document of the Kamengrad’s castellan Bogodar, grom 1272.

The legend od the name Koprivnica, dates back to the time of Mongol invasion in 1242, is also well-known. It describes the Hungarian-Croatian king Bela IV running away from the tatars towards the sea. After he had crossed the river Drava, the Tatars were already close by, so Bela IV hastened towards Klanik fortress. When he came to the creek Koprivnica, somewhere in the area of today’s Koprivnica, he didn’t dismount his horse and wet his feet to freshen up a little, but his horse threw him of the saddle into a big nettle bush, growing in abundance nearby. The angry king called the place Koprivnica and so has remained until today.

Therefore, nettle has marked our city from its beginnning –Whether we like it or not. From the tourist point of view, nettle does not seem to be very promising, but it only appears so. Even the old citizens of Koprivnica knew about the healing properties of nettle, so it could very well be that this actually played a crucial part in naming their village. Beside fort its medical properties, nettle was often used for nutritional purposes as well. Nowdays, this unique quality has been recognized by the Tourist Board of Koprivnica, responsibe for reviving and initiating the preparation of delicacies based on nettle, as a healthy and ecological ingredient, with alleged aphrodisiac properties. Nettle is also a well known cosmetic essence and it probably has some other benefits. Its association with the name of our town, the story, the uniqueness and uncommonness, differentiation in relation to others, healthy food, healing properties, are just some of the elements which transform a seemingly unattractive term into ana attractive, unique and recognizable tourist product, and not merely a culinary one, in which the visitors of our town will enjoy.

There alre nettle delicacies adn other souvenirs based on this plant in all better restaurants and souvenir shops in Koprivnica, and the Nettle story is brought to focus at the Renaissance festival. The ancient inhabitants of Koprivnica respected and used the nettle and today we proudly continue the story and believe in it as well.

*Note: The toponyms in almost every Slavic country (Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegoina, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Poland) prove the fact that nettle was indeed popular amongst the ancient Slavs.

Renato Labazan