The city of Zagreb is the largest in Croatia with about 800 thousand inhabitants and it’s the capital since 1991. Despite this, it is not the most visited Croatia’s zone because most of the tourists prefer to travel to the country’s coastline to know their beaches and the cities of Dubrovnik, Zadar and Split. Zagreb is a city with over 900 years of history located in the countryside on the Sava river banks and also features potential to have more tourism. The city center is divided into upper town, Gornji Grad, and lower town, Donji Grad.
One of the main churches of Zagreb is situated in the upper part in a square where are also located the Parliament and the Croatian Government. The St. Mark’s Church stands out for it’s colourful roof that consists in a Croatia’s coat of arms and a shield of Zagreb. This small church is originally from the thirteenth century, it has Gothic style and it has Romanesque windows. Inside we find works of Croatian most famous modern sculptor, Ivan Mestrovic. At it’s entrance there is a Gothic door with 15 statues (Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus and the 12 Apostles) who also deserve to be admired.
In religious terms, another place should be visited by tourists in the city’s upper area, the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This magnificent monument was built in 1217 in Romanesque style and it is located in Kaptol Square. Throughout history it has been destroyed several times by wars and also by the earthquake of 1880 which seriously damaged the Cathedral. It’s modern version of Neo-Gothic style exists since 1899 and is characterized by having two large towers, under construction, that makes it the tallest building in Croatia.
The city has another tower that is visited by many tourists and it has medieval origin. Currently the Lotrscak tower serves as a viewpoint over the city and is accessible by a funicular. This transport connects the lower part to the upper town from the end of the seventeenth century. At midday there is a cannon that shoots through a window and announces the hour, a tradition that exists since the nineteenth century. Another monument of medieval times is the Stone Gate also called Kamenita Vrata and is the only ancient city gateway that still stands today. This site was transformed into a Sanctuary with a small chapel and a statue of Mary. It should be noted that one of the oldest pharmacies in the world is located near the gate and works since 1355.
The Tkalciceva street is a must for tourists because it represents the diversity of Croatian cuisine and it has many places to spend good and relaxing times. It is a pedestrian street with restaurants, cafes and bars, very popular by the people who fills the terraces on sunny days and on weekends. This street is busy all day and it’s a nightlife spot of the city.
Knowing the lower town, Donji Grad
The largest city square is located in the lower town and it’s a tribute to a nineteenth century Earl called Ban Josip Jelacic. This is considered a national hero for fighting against the Hungarians and the freedom and unification of the Croatian people. This public space consists of various shops, restaurants and hotels as is common in any important square of an European capital. I would add that it is a zone that concentrates various types of transport where there are a mix of Zagreb’s inhabitants, tourists and local artists. This square is also used for public events that take advantage of the beauty and the architectural diversity of buildings. If we walk a bit we will get the busiest and known Zagreb’s market that runs almost 100 years ago. The Dolac Market has many red sun hats that fill the area and are destinated for local farmers. They use this space to sell their products to locals and tourists, such as fruits, vegetables, cheeses and flowers.
For those who prefer a more quiet place should visit the Zrinjevac Park, the largest green space in the city center. Inside we can find a water source that beautifies the park and also a pavilion where concerts are held throughout the year. In winter there are several wooden stalls selling food and drink which are very popular for those visiting the park. On the outskirts is the Archaeological Zagreb Museum, arranged in various themed floors that are: Prehistory, Greek and Roman Antiquity, ancient Egypt, Middle Ages and coins and metals.
For art lovers, the Mimara Museum, is a right place to go because it has a vast collection of works from around the world such as archaeological objects from Egypt and Mesopotamia, Greek sculptures and Dutch Baroque paintings. It’s exterior imposing greyscale and Neo-Renaissance style of the nineteenth century is also relevant to those who pass by that area. Another important cultural space is the National Theater and was opened in 1895 by the Austro-Hungarian Emperor Frank Joseph. This yellow Neo-Baroque building was designed by Austrian architects Ferdinand Feller and Helmer Herman. I note that in addition to the Theatre, people can watch a Opera or Ballet show which give people the opportunity to know better the culture of Zagreb.
Interesting places outside the city center
In the peripheral zone of Zagreb there is a place that usually is not seen as tourist attraction, the Mirogoj cemetery. This is accessible by public transport and is located at the mount Medvednica. The cemetery was opened in 1876 and is considered one of the most beautiful in Europe. It’s magnificent architecture with arcades and domes give a special charm to this area and captivates the public who visit the cemetery with the tourist purpose. In this pleasant and quiet space are buried several politicians, poets and artists such as Franjo Tudman (first president of Croatia) and Vladimir Prelog who won the Chemistry Nobel Prize in 1975.
In an area further away from the city is the Plitvice Lakes National Park. To reach this area, UNESCO World Heritage since 1979, should take a bus in the center of Zagreb. It’s importance is related to it’s dimension because it is the largest national park in Croatia with 20,000 hectares, but especially for it’s beauty and natural wealth. In the park there are a total of 16 lakes and 300 waterfalls in the middle of a green valley. There are several walking routes which have been created in the extensive area of the park, some with wooden walkways that allow cross the blue water with greenish tons. On the other hand, those who want to go more distant places can use the existing small boats and have a quiet walk in the middle of this magnificent nature.