A capital of Croatia, Zagreb, is getting more and more popular among the tourists and it is finally taking its place on the touristic map of Europe. Since it is a relatively small city (metropolitan area has around 1 million inhabitants) and you can walk to all important attractions without a problem. Zagreb is a wonderful city, charming and with a rich history, and yet not so crowded with tourists as some other European cities. If this is your first time in Zagreb, you should definitely visit this 10 places!
1) Art Pavilion
Art Pavilion (Umjetnicki paviljon) is most likely to be the first thing you will see in Zagreb if you arrive at the city by train, as lots of visitors do. It is an art gallery, established in 1898. However, its history started a few years earlier when the pavilion was made for Millennium Exhibition in Budapest, Hungary where Croatia was presented as a separate country for the first time. When the exhibition finished, the building’s iron skeleton was transported to Zagreb and the new version of the building was designed. Today gallery doesn’t have a permanent exhibition, but it often hosts some of the most popular temporary exhibitions in the city what makes it one of the most important cultural points of interest in Zagreb.
2) Main Square
Ban Josip Jelacic square is the main city’s square, founded in the foothills of medieval towns Gradec and Kaptol. Since the 17th century it was a popular place for fairs and it seems that current mayor wants to keep the old tradition (sarcasm; the square is often covered with tents and stands, what local people hate). Here you can see Mandusevac, a spring which was considered to be witches’ meeting place, ban Jelacic statue which was originally oriented to the north, a clock which is the most famous meeting place in the city and beautiful buildings from 19th century.
3) Dolac Market
Only a few steps from the main square there is Dolac, the biggest, the most famous and the most important open market in the city. In Croatia, we have a tradition of markets and Dolac happens to be a great example in the city center. It consists of open upper part where you can buy fruits, vegetables and souvenirs and a closed part where they sell fish and meat. In 2006, the traditional market’s seller statue was placed near the stairs. It is named “kumica Barica”. Kumica is the woman from surrounding area of Zagreb who produces and sells their own fruits, vegetables, cheese, and cream.
4) Tkalčićeva Street
Tkalčićeva Street (popularly called Tkalča) is the street full of bars, restaurant and well-known gathering place for locals and tourists. In the past, Tkalca was a creek which divided Gradec and Kaptol. Here were build the mills which were producing flour for the whole city. In 18th and 19th century Tkalča was transformed into the first industrial zone of the city with manufactures of paper, cloth, soap, leather, and liquor. During the 19th century, creek became very contaminated and it was vaulted. Manufacturers were replaced by stores, crafts, taverns and public houses. Today here you can see old sun clock, a statue of first Croatian female journalist Marija Jurić Zagorka or you can enjoy numerous bars, galleries, and restaurants. Tkalca is one of the most attractive and lively streets in the city.
The Cathedral of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the biggest sacral building in the country. It was built from 13th to 16th century and it was surrounded by fortified walls. Cathedral was ruined in several fires and it was rebuilt after the big earthquake in 1880. Architect Herman Bolle gave it today’s neogothic look with two towers. It is interesting that towers are not the same height, the northern one is 104 m (341 ft) high and the southern is one meter higher. During the rebuilt, the low quality and easily soluble stone was used. Thanks to that, it is very unusual to see the cathedral without renovation scaffoldings.
6) Museum of Broken Relationships
The Museum of broken relationships in Zagreb, Croatia can be found in Upper town’s baroque palace and, like the name says, it is dedicated to failed relationships. It consists of various personal items donated by the ex-lovers and every item is followed by the short story. Since 2006, the collection had traveled all around the world and at the end of 2010, it finally settled down in Zagreb, Croatia. Because of its originality, specific ambient and great working hours, the museum became one of the most popular in the city. More about the museum, you can read in one of the previous posts.
7) St Mark’s Church
St Mark’s Church is located on St Mark’s Square, the former main square of medieval village Gradec. Besides the church, the square is the place where the most important state institutions are – government, parliament, and court. St Mark’s Church was built in the 14th century, but today’s look it got during the 19th-century reconstruction. Then the famous tiled roof was made of coat of arms of the Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia on the left part and old Zagreb’s coat of arms on the right part of the roof. Expect the roof, the church is also known to be a home of works of the famous sculptor Ivan Mestrovic.
8) Upper Town
The whole Upper Town in Zagreb is very attractive for tourists. It is small but charming and you can spend 2 – 3 hours just wandering around and discovering what is hidden in the small streets. There is lots of passages, hidden stairs, and promenades worth exploring, as well as few churches, restaurants, and small stores. Spend some time on Strossmayerov promenade, visit some of the popular museums and observe the architecture of Zagreb’s old palaces.
9) Funicular in Tomićeva street
Funicular connects Upper town and Downtown and it is the oldest form of public transportation in Zagreb. It is in use since 1890. At the beginning, it was steam-powered because of what often stopped halfway. Today is powered by electricity but it is protected as a historic monument since fully retained its original exterior appearance, building construction and most of the technical characteristics. Funicular annually transports more than half a million passengers. The length of the line is 66 meters, what it makes one of the shortest in the world (we like to say the shortest :D) and the journey takes about 55 seconds. Don’t miss the ride when in Zagreb!
10) Mirogoj Cemetery
I guess cemeteries are not usually on your visiting lists. Well, you should definitely visit this one. Located only 10 minutes long bus ride from the main square, Mirogoj is one of the most valuable places in Zagreb. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful cemeteries in whole Europe. Its arcades, monumental tombs and the whole architecture make it one of the most interesting open-air art galleries you will ever visit. It is also the last resting place of many famous Croatians, Austro-Hungarian and Yugoslavs. Must see!
There are lots of wonderful places you can visit when in Zagreb, these ones are only my personal top 10 considering more popular touristic places. You can visit some of the museums, shops, swim in lakes, go hiking on Medvednica or even go on some day trips from Zagreb. Whatever you do, don’t forget to enjoy long coffees in some of the most popular bars, take some sun in one of the parks or just stroll down Ilica.
Enjoy Zagreb and let us know which are your favorite spots in the city!
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