Mursko Središće (Hungarian: Muraszerdahely, Kajkavian: Mursko Središče) is the northernmost city in Croatia, located at 46.509°N 16.441°E / 46.509; 16.441 (alt. 175 m) and one of the oldest localities in Međimurje County.
Mursko Središće is a city with a total population of 6,307 (2011), and an area of 34 km2 (13.13 sq mi). It lies on the river Mura, the natural line dividing Croatia from Slovenia.
Nearby places are Čakovec, Sveti Martin na Muri, Lendava, and Podturen.
Mursko Središće is first mentioned in 1334 as Sancti Martini in Zredysche. Historian Ivan Kukuljević-Sakcinski claimed that the site was occupied by the Romans and was known under the name of Helicanum. If true, it would have been a strategic point on the road between Ptuj (Poetovio) in Slovenia and Carnuntum (Petronell) on the river Danube, the post between today's Vienna and Bratislava in Slovakia. The existing road was built in the 1st century. Other historians disagree, claiming that Helicanum might be today's Sveti Martin na Muri or nearby Lendava (Lendva).
The city's residents have always been connected to their river. Since the 4th century BC, there have been reports of floating mills powered by the river's stream. The ancient know-how was later accepted by Slavs, then by Magyars upon their arrival. Several decades ago, many of them were scattered along the river banks. The last one in the city was still operating in the 1970s.
In 1477, Mursko Središće was officially mentioned as an important trade post with three other places in Međimurje (Čakovec, Prelog and Nedelišće). In 1650, the city was known as Muraszerdahely and in 1660 the local chapel of St. Martin was documented. In 1716 the church, that of St. Ladislaus, was built in the gothic style, but was ruined by the flood in 1690. It was then rebuilt in late baroque style.
The city administrative area of Mursko Središće is split into the following settlements:Hlapičina, population 676
Križovec, population 631
Mursko Središće, population 3,444
Peklenica, population 1,217
Štrukovec, population 339
Historical population:1771 — 412
1802 — 586
1857 — 938
1900 — 1420
2003 — 3600
With the beginning of the 20th century, development was faster thanks to the discovery of crude oil in nearby Selnica and Peklenica in 1856. At the time, oil was treated and used differently, with total production of 6900 t in 1918. Interestingly, in 1901, even for that level of extraction a pipeline was constructed between Mursko Središće and nearby Selnica, the first one in this part of Europe.
After World War I, coal was discovered in 1921, and the exploitation of this source of energy began soon after. The first coal mine was opened in 1926, with qualified and experienced workers brought from Slovenia. (There were other points of extraction in Peklenica (even earlier) and Lopatinec.) World War II ended the business started by Kraljić & Majhen Co., which was then nationalized and managed under the name of Međimurski ugljenokopi. In that period (1946–1972), coal extraction was significant, with total output of 4,593,961 t, in average 155,000 t each year.
Low prices of gasoline forced the industry to be closed despite the significant reserves. New technology and approaches are needed to continue. Use of existing technology for coal extraction would not be profitable any more.
The building of a railroad between Lendava and Čakovec in 1889 facilitated communication. There are two bridges crossing the river: the first was built for the railroad in 1889, while the second one, used in road transportation, was built in 1968.
The local elementary school center has more than 450 pupils and is the biggest in Međimurje. Since the whole area was for centuries influenced by or was part of Hungary, part of its history and culture are still evident today in language, diet, customs, and music.
Forms of organized activities are numerous, such as tennis, basketball, football (soccer), chess, hunting and fishing, and the radio "9A1CMS" club.
There are two singing choirs, one of them adding literary, drama, music tamburitza music and folklore sections, the last run by Franjo Liklin for decades. Portions of the work by renowned ethnomusicologist Vinko Žganec was done here since he was the native of neighboring Vratišinec.
Today, Mursko Središće is the local administrative, business and trade center with industry primarily in the textile Modeks, transportation, building materials and more and more tourism. There are numerous places to stay within the inner city limits or in proximity to the city.