Загреб / Zagreb

“Zagreb je uvijek dobra ideja…” or in translation from Croatian – Zagreb is always a good idea… Located on the banks of the Sava River, Zagreb is the capital of Croatia since 1991, with the declaration of independence and the separation from the former Yugoslavia. The earliest information of the existence of life in today’s territories of the city dates back to the Neolithic! But today’s name is mentioned for the first time in 1094. Today its population is about 1 million people. The city is host to many different festivals, cultural events and other events. Pleasant to visit every day of the year, the city is a magnet for tourists! It’s time for a quick tour around Zagreb!

From where to start?

Our tour will start from the National Theater. The surrounding area is a paid parking area and it is convenient to stop by car for a few hours just to explore the tourist part of Zagreb. Well, it turned out that on Sunday it was not paid and I saved a few kuna.

Here stop most buses oforganized excursions and guides begin their tours. The building of the theater is very impressive, mixing the neo-baroque and rococo styles. The colorful areas around it give a start to a U-shaped series of parks and gardens, which is called the “green horseshoe” and surrounds the central parts of the city.

To the central square

We head north-east from the theater, for the hills of Kaptol and Gradec. On the way, you will see the Zagreb funicular connecting the Lower and Upper Town and passing the distance of only 66 m, one of the shortest routes of a funicular in the world. Right next to its upper station is located the Lotrscak Tower, which is left of the fortifications of the city and is one of the oldest buildings in Zagreb. Just at 12:00, you can hear a shot from a cannon… to know that it’s from the cannon at the top of the tower…

We continue the walk to the central square of Ban Josip Jelacic. Josip Jelacic is a Croatian statesman from the 19th century who is respected as a national hero in today’s Croatia. In the center of the square you will see his statue – riding his horse with a proudly swung his sword. Around the square there are many shops, restaurants and public transport stops. If you stay in a farther part of the city and you are without a car, it is easiest to get here.

St. Mark’s Church

Now the question arises… to go to St. Mark’s Church or the Cathedral of Zagreb? It does not matter… anyway, we’ll go to both of them… We’re going to St. Mark! Our gaze stops first on the colored tiles on the roof… It’s really beautiful! The coats of arms of Croatia, Dalmatia, Slavonia and Zagreb’s coat of arms are depicted. It dates back to the 13th century and has played an extremely important role in Croatian history down the years. It has kept important documents, including the city seal. It is surrounded by the buildings of the city hall, the parliament and the court. Before the altar, all political and social figures were taken oath when they took office. The church is beautiful and very photogenic, if only escape from the gret number of tourists, because here is very crowded…

View of the rooftops of Zagreb

We continue the walk in the area and reach the Christian Church of St. St. Cyril and Methodius. Nestled between buildings, it is located 100 meters from St. Mark. Together with the Catholic Church St. Katerina and the cathedral “Assumption of Mary”, these four temples are most impressive for a visit.

Down the street, the Lotrscak Tower and the green alleys surrounding the hill are now in front of us. Climbing to the top of the tower is possible against 20 kuna or about 4 euro. At the end of the alley there is a panoramic ground with a breathtaking view of the Zagreb roofs and the raising cathedral above them!

Through the Stone gate, right up to Tkalciceva street

The next stop is the Stone Gate – the only remaining gate from the former city walls. An impression can be made by many praying people who light candles around an iron fence. Behind it is the painting of Virgin Mary, survived by fire in 1731. Today the tower has been transformed into a small temple, which is one of the most revered places from the locals.

In this part of the city, the narrow and steep streets make an impression. Oh… yeah … And the gas lanterns! How often have you seen town lighting by gas lanterns that light up manually? I personally recall just one case… when the Little Prince of Exupéry went to the planet with the lamplighter… The shafts in the city are also interesting.

In fact, there were two different cities here – Kaptol and Gradec. They have often fought each other and have had many bloody battles. There was a stream between the two towns and there was a bridge that was the main connection between them. After a ruthless battle in 1667, the bridge was called “Bloody Bridge”. Subsequently, the two cities fused and today’s Zagreb appeared. The stream is still passing somewhere in the sewage of this part of the city, but the bridge is gone. Today there is a street called “Bloody Bridge” to remind the locals the history and prevent it from repeating itself.

Passing on it we are already on the busy Tkalciceva street. The street is full of bars, and in the evening it is the main place for entertainment for young people. One of the most beautiful Zagreb streets.

The Zagreb Cathedral

Before we finished the tour there was the icing on the cake – the Zagreb cathedral “Assumption of Mary”. The square in front of the cathedral is quite attractive, with the fountain and clock on the wall near the cathedral. The cathedral is the most famous landmark in the city! It dates back to the 11th century, but the present species was acquired by reconstruction after an earthquake in 1880. It is interesting that one tower is 105 m high and the other one 104 m.

Coffee at the Colorful square

Here we end the quick tour around Zagreb. Actually… there is time for a coffee. In order not to bump into the crowds of tourists in the Upper Town, let’s go back to the Josip Jelacic Square… We take the main shopping street – Gajeva. You’re turning on the first intersection to the right, and after 100 meters you are  at “The Colorful square” (Cvjetni trg). A small square with plenty of flower shops and a few cafes… Pretty nice and peaceful, this square is a favorite spot for the locals.

For a final

To admit honestly, perhaps Zagreb is the city I have been paying the least attention to in the pre-preparation… Surely on both visits I have not been able to enjoy it as much as possible and to feel its spirit… One of the interesting places that I have missed is the Grich Tunnel. I attribute it to the fact that my first visit was after a 20-hour passage of the 800 km from Sofia to Zagreb due to the columns at the border, and the second was only for a few hours… I promise that at the third visit I will leave the spirit of the city to conquer me and I will show you new things.