Written by manatwork on 11 Apr, 2011
Croatia is about the size of West Virginia. With 1,100 miles of mainland coastline, it has one of the most beautiful beaches along the Adriatic Sea. Do you know that it is one of the most popular destinations in the world? And, it is home…Read More
Croatia is about the size of West Virginia. With 1,100 miles of mainland coastline, it has one of the most beautiful beaches along the Adriatic Sea. Do you know that it is one of the most popular destinations in the world? And, it is home to seven UNESCO heritage sites?Continuing my journey from Ljubljana, I took a train to Zagreb. A 2-hour train ride cost €12. Located at King Tomislav Square (Trang Kralja Tomislava), Zagrebački Glavni kolodvor (Zagreb Main Station) is the largest railway station in Croatia. Zagreb is much bigger than Ljubljana. I had to admit that I made a mistake for not booking a place to stay before coming to Zagreb. After hours of walking with two bags in tow, and a blister on my foot, finally I had to settle for a hotel near the Main Train Station. It cost me $115 a night! I learnt my lesson.I left my bags in a locker at the train station the next morning, and started exploring the city around Bana Jelacica Square, which is the main square in the Old Town of Zagreb. An equestrian statue of General Jelacica stands tall in the middle of the square. Further up, there lies Zagreb Cathedral, the most famous building in Croatia with its spires seen from many locations in the city. There are two other famous cathedrals in Zagreb: St Mark's Church - tiles are laid on its roof to represent the coat of arms of Zagreb and Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Slovania and Dalmatia - and The Church of St. Catherine - famous for its stucco and wooden Baroque altars. Further down the road from St Mark's Church is the Stone Gate, a shrine to Virgin Mary where people can light a candle and pray. It's a very sombre atmosphere here, and if you happen to pass by, please be quiet as a respect to the locals praying, and hoping their wishes would be granted.Time to visit a museum. I decided to go to Strossmayer Gallery of Old Masters, a 19th century neo-Renaissance building which housed permanent European paintings from the 14th to 19th centuries. That day was hot, and it was hot and humid in the museum. I was told that the air conditioner was already running to its full capacity. I wonder what that condition would do to the paintings in the long run.That night I decided to do a little 'people watching' at King Tomislav Square. It was pretty interesting as people hung out till very late at night. I saw so many men used the place as a public loo, and it made me wondered what would the women do if they have to go? After a sleepless but interesting night, I decided to take a bus (#106) at Kaptol Square to Mirogaj the next morning. Mirogaj is the central cemetery of Zagreb. The mortuary, and the impressive arcades with the church of Christ the King made it one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world. This is where Dr Franco Tudman, Croatia's first President was laid to rest. The day was getting hotter. I was beginning to feel agitated after 24-hour without a shower. I got a train ticket to my next destination, Zadar, (cost 156 kuna, approximately $28) departing at 9pm., and then, I took a shower at the Main Train Station (cost 45 kuna, approximately $8). Then I went to a bar for a beer, and watched the Olympic Games. Later I've learnt that in the summer months, most tourists and locals would travel to cities located along Croatia's coastline. This explained to me why the city of more than a million people seemed deserted in some areas. Zagreb has good transportation, spacious boulevards and squares. It has twenty theaters and over forty museums and galleries. Therefore, I think it would be a worthwhile stop for two or three days before you decide to head to other cities along the Adriatic Sea. Close
Written by fizzytom on 22 Aug, 2009
Zagreb’s main square "Trg Bana Jelacica" is the vibrant heart of the Croatian capital and it’s a fine place in the Austro-Hungarian tradition, not dissimilar to squares you might find in cities like Vienna. It’s pretty hard to miss the square because it serves…Read More
Zagreb’s main square "Trg Bana Jelacica" is the vibrant heart of the Croatian capital and it’s a fine place in the Austro-Hungarian tradition, not dissimilar to squares you might find in cities like Vienna. It’s pretty hard to miss the square because it serves a number of functions; it’s a major hub for tram services, it is an ideal and convenient place to meet people, it contains a couple of important monuments in it’s own right and it’s close to a number of important and popular attractions, and it effectively forms the buffer between old town and nineteenth century Zagreb. Throw in that it is where you’ll find the main tourist information office and you can see why it’s almost impossible to miss.If you arrive in the square from the direction of the train station, do take care as you cross the tramlines: the trams can sometimes be quite quiet as they approach and although the driver will sound a warning, you could get quite a surprise.The square is named for Josip Jelacic, a Croatian hero and viceroy who defeated the Hungarians in an uprising in 1848, although there has been a square of sorts in this location since the seventeenth century. There is a statue of the man himself on horseback which is more or less the main focal point in the square. His sword is raised and pointing towards Hungary; when the statue was installed in 1866 some councillors thought this was not appropriate but clearly this objection was not sustained. The statue was removed, however, in 1947 because the new socialist government regarded Jelacic as an Austrian collaborator and symbolic of Croatian nationalism which not good when Tito was trying to unite the Slavs; the square was according named trg Republike. Fortunately a gallery curator kept it hidden and in 1990, after Croatians voted for independence from Yugoslavia, Jelacic’s role in history was reconsidered as important and the statue was therefore reinstalled.Another important trg Bana Jelacica monument also has an interesting history – the Mandusevac fountain. In 1987 the World Student Games were held in Zagreb and a great deal of work was done to tidy up the city. Some workmen unearthed an old stream - the Medveščak stream – and also the fountain of the same name that had been covered in 1898. The first time we visited Zagreb in 2003 it was a warm September evening and some young kids were stripped to the waist, diving into the fountain to get the money thrown in by tourists. In 2009 on a hot July day, many of the tourists were cooling their tired, hot feet in the fountain!Both the Jelacic statue and the Mandusevac monument are popular places to meet up with friends as they are both surrounded by a couple of steps which make a good place to sit. However, there are several cafes to sit at in good weather and indulge in a bit of people watching while enjoying a coffee - or a beer if you prefer. Be warned though, sitting at one of these cafes is pretty costly so get off the main square if you’re on a tight budget. Each day in summer a small craft and souvenir market sets up on the square. Some of the stall holders wear traditional dress and give demonstrations of the skills involved in whatever it is they make to sell. There are always lots of cute things bearing the popular heart-shaped Zagreb logo as well as lavender, art pieces and handmade wooden items. The jewellery is certainly worth a look – some is young and fun, and there is some delicate silverware too. There are often musicians and dancers performing in summer. On our last visit a group of Croatian school children were performing; perhaps not everyone’s cup of tea but my elderly parents loved it!On one corner of the square is the large tourist information office where the knowledgeable staff speak a range of languages so you should find someone to help you. There are excellent free maps of the city centre and city surroundings that also include a useful public transport guide.While the square is surrounded by a wealth of very attractive buildings in a variety of styles – classicist, secessionist and so on – they are slightly spoiled by the huge advertising hoardings which seem to be considered acceptable (perhaps necessary for the income they provide) in this part of the world. It is certainly blight but you can still enjoy a good proportion of the buildings. Every time we visit my partner and I set ourselves a challenge to choose our favourite apartment – with an endless variety of window and balcony styles we seem to choose a different one each time we visit as something new always catches the eye, something you didn’t spot last time. Many of the large international fashion and luxury chains are in this square so if you are an avid consumer this is a good area to head to. Personally I prefer the more relaxed (and cheaper) Dolac market which is just behind the square. Radiating off the square are other shopping and commercial streets the ones to the south are more modern, the ones behind the square and towards the cathedral are quainter. While you may only pass through this square on the way to somewhere else, do take a look at the statue of Jelacic and definitely take a look up over the shops facades and appreciate the splendid buildings. Close
Written by dangaroo on 22 Apr, 2009
Zagreb the wonderful capital of Croatia is one of my favourite European cities, cold in the winter and warm most of the rest of the year, it's a great place to spend afternoons outside the cafes and bars that line the cobbled streets. The city…Read More
Zagreb the wonderful capital of Croatia is one of my favourite European cities, cold in the winter and warm most of the rest of the year, it's a great place to spend afternoons outside the cafes and bars that line the cobbled streets. The city which has become popular with tourists in recent years has seen numerous budget options pop up in the form of hostels and the days of having to stay in the dour HI hostel nicknamed "The Prison Hostel" for its miserable staff and lack of light has long gone.To compliment the wonderful choice of places to wine and dine is a fine selection of magnificent buildings and statues from the stunning National Theatre through to the horse statue on Trg Jelacic (Jelacic Square), the tourist information is extremely helpful to tourists and well-prepared. Zagreb has three other very worthy districts the arty streets of Tkalciceva, the historic museum and church filled area of Gornji Grad which is very quaint but a little bit too busy with tourists sometimes. Last but not least those with power left in their legs should climb up to Mirogoj, a cemetery at the base of Mt Medvenica with a stunning range of well sculptured tombs and an impressive wall. This is a very peaceful area and rates as one of the best cemeteries in Europe, even if you're too lazy to climb - at least hop on the 106 bus. For nightlife buffs, the choices are excellent - visit the restaurants and hip pubs of the oldy worldy Tkalciceva, the dance clubs around Maksimir Park which really get very lively on summer nights, the factory come alternative music venue of Tvornica which is massive with two stages and cheap beer in plastic cups. Zagreb roads are often being re-built but that shouldn't let you be put off by exploring the outskirts a little bit, there's numerous parks with fountains which make a shady change from the blinding summer sun. Dinamo Zagreb's stadium on the way to the zoo is home to some very interesting graffiti, as is the road between the train station and the bus station (although it's looking a bit worse for wear of late) Public transport in Zagreb is fairly modern with a new range of trams and buses, it is forbidden to take dogs but there are not many inspectors so it is likely that the driver will only ask you to get off, if you are travelling with one.There are numerous residential areas which seem a little seperated from the city by small country lanes, they are still considered part of the city and many of them are always under construction. This is because during the Balkan War, there was a large population exchange with people swapping houses and land to get out of a country they would be in trouble in - ethnic croats moving out of bosnia and serbia and vice-versa. The houses or land they have inherited often had little in the way of infrastructure, so are continuously updated when the owner has the money - the fact that some people are doing better than others is evident in the size, colour, progression and designs of the houses.I find Zagreb fascinating and relaxing but at the same time it manages to remain a working and student city. This is why I find it better than the average Croatian tourist destination. Close
Written by SaraP on 21 Jul, 2003
If you're out and about, mooching around the city, this is perfect way to brush up on your history and see it in context . . . certainly there as as many celebrated Croatian figures as you could possibly want to see in the "flesh"…Read More
If you're out and about, mooching around the city, this is perfect way to brush up on your history and see it in context . . . certainly there as as many celebrated Croatian figures as you could possibly want to see in the "flesh" and this is a much nicer way than visiting an indoor museum and wasting good weather! The variety is enormous (and spread out) :
There are rulers and fighters . . . Coming out of the railway station onto Trg Kralja Tomislava, you'll see King Tomislav (photo attached to history entry below), the first king of medieval Croatia, who ruled from 910 and 928, on horseback (one raised hoof traditionally means the rider was injured in battle -- 2 raised means s/he died in battle). There are several St Georges,including one outside the Faculty of Law, just up from Tomislava Sq, and another as you pass through the "Stone Gate" chapel (see entry below about the Upper Town), either skewering or already victorious over their respective dragons.
There are writers . . . including a curious bench-bound silvery man, Antun Matos, with an improbably sized moustache and a welcoming air, a spookily real full-sized woman, Marija Zagorda, standing beneath a sundial just beyond St George (see photo below).
There are politicians... best of all is Vecesslav Holjevac who stands outside the National Library, hands in the pockets of his ultra-smooth bronzed coat -- he was an anti-fascist major, apparently smooth of tongue in life and now of appearance in immortality . . .
. . . and there is Life, to be specific the mesmerising "Well of Life", by Ivan Mestrovic, in front of the National Theatre, a bright green circular construction of struggling or thriving figures in various stages of aging and activity, which is itself surrounded by another, outer circle of seats from which to rest and survey the images depicted on the well (see photo below).
Lastly, look out for Madonna outside the cathedral -- all golden and sparkling in the sunshine, looking down from on high. She's rather irreligiously in the middle of a mini-roundabout, but, nonetheless, the people of Zagreb bow their heads to her as they walk past.
I hope the photos below help to inspire and to demonstrate the variety and effort to which the city has gone -- it's certainly worth taking the trouble to search these out while you're a-wanderin' and, as you'd probably have come across almost all of them in any event, I hope this is a guide to who they are and why they're here.
Written by Elia Papillon on 16 Dec, 2004
Some friends in my friends’ network recommended that I personalise my writing more; to write about how I found and why I liked a place, how I felt to be there, and to include more personalised information. So here are some of my thoughts and…Read More
Some friends in my friends’ network recommended that I personalise my writing more; to write about how I found and why I liked a place, how I felt to be there, and to include more personalised information. So here are some of my thoughts and feelings about my travel in Zagreb this summer.
Before the recent war, Croatia was a popular tourist destination. I didn’t know any people that had been there since the war ended, so I didn’t know how I would find the country to be. I travelled there in August 2004 for some days, just to Zagreb and some places close by.
I fell in love with Eastern Europe after I travelled in Czech Republic and Poland for the first time nearly 10 years ago. It will always be a favourite part of the world for me. Actually, I would live somewhere here if possible. Much has changed in this part of the world since the ending of Communism, but much also remains the same. For me, much of the beauty of Eastern Europe is in the simplicity of life, the friendly people, the laid-back pace of life, and the many natural beauties.
I arrived in Zagreb by train; the train station is in the lower town, Donji Grad. If you have never travelled in Eastern Europe before, Zagreb will be a rude introduction to one of the most beautiful parts of the world.
Zagreb is not the cleanest city I have seen. The Upper Town is cleaner than the Lower Town. In many places there is much graffiti, and you will see many beggars. People do not have so much money, and you can notice this easily. But it is a safe place to travel. People are friendly and always make an effort with foreigners.
So what did I like best? Although it was August, it was not so crowded (most tourists travel to the coast and islands for the sun at this time). Walking is really the best way to see the city, and getting lost was one of the best things I did. I extended my morning afternoon walking tour along little side streets. At one time, I found myself near a large shopping centre that I failed to find on any Zagreb map, but I don’t think I could find it again if I went looking!
Strolling around with no fixed place to go allows you to be freer, and this is when you find the special hidden places. I try always to do this when I travel, and this is always when I get a real feeling for a city or place.
I met many different people – local and foreign – and I took time to talk with them. Listening to how they find the changes in the country changes your own opinions also. Zagreb is a wonderful city that I really like and already want to return to.
Written by SaraP on 30 May, 2003
The twin settlements which make up Zagreb's hilly Upper Town are Gradec (to the east) and Kaptol (to the west). Kaptol has been a settlement for approaching a millennium (though few of the buildings date back that far thanks to the prevalence of earthquakes) and…Read More
The twin settlements which make up Zagreb's hilly Upper Town are Gradec (to the east) and Kaptol (to the west). Kaptol has been a settlement for approaching a millennium (though few of the buildings date back that far thanks to the prevalence of earthquakes) and Gradec in the 1400s. Together they form the oldest part of the city.
You can either climb slowly from the Lower Town via the Dolac Market into Kaptol by heading towards the cathedral spires or, slightly more spectacularly, take the 1888 funicular up to the foot of the Lotrscak Tower and straight into Gradec. Assuming the latter route, head up into the Tower (via the door on the main street towards St Mark's - the door by the funicular exit is just a shop/gallery) and on the first level you'll find the ticket office (KN10) to allow you to head up another 40 or so spiral steps to the 360 degree views from the open-air platform (actually, the views from the lower level across to St. Mark's and St Catherine's aren't bad at all if you're on a budget and the big windows are open, and they're not at all pushy if you just want to sit down there and take some photos).
From there, head up towards gothic St Mark's, looking to your right at the white-facade of the baroque St Catherine's Church and stopping in on your left at the Naive Art Museum (Galeija Klovicevi Dvori). St Mark's is the epicentre of Gradec and, with its painted roof tiles shining and catching the light beautifully, it doesn't look quite real. On one side, the tiles make up two shields (the flags of Zagreb and Croatia, and forming, at the rear, a plain sheet of lovely fir-tree green (it's worth wandering right round Jezuitski square to view the whole building). There is apparently some modern sculpture inside but the church looked pretty permanently closed to me.
On the church's left is the rather plain 17th-century Banski Dvori (presidential palace) with its a guard of honour (changed at noon in the summer month) and on the right is the Sabor (national assembly) dating from 1908 - look out for the crest above the Croatian flag. Past the palace on the right hand side is a small-ish entrance which turns into a passageway - coming out into the light again, you'll see an open-air shrine with pews on the left hand wall divided by the path from an image of the Virgin Mary surrounded by plaques and lit candles. Apparently, this area survived the 1880 earthquake when all around it did not and has since been deemed holy.
From this point, the path starts to drop downhill, stopping off for a grand mounted St George skewering a vile-looking dragon (see "Beloved Ljubljana" for the contrasting treatment of dragons in the region), before rising once more as you head into Kaptol. First stop is the Dolac market with blue and white striped stalls loaded down with fantastic-smelling fruit and veg and then, going north along Opatovina, you reach the spiky twin spires of the 1899 Cathedral (to which local refer as St Stefan's but whose name had formally changed to the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary). Cleaning and renovation works have been going on for a long time and one spire is currently covered in scaffolding. To the left of the entrance are the remains of the medieval Archiepiscopal Palace and some 16th century ruins of fortifications against Turkish invaders. The interior of the Cathedral is grand and gilded with an enormous baroque pulpit - not my cup of tea but you have to admire the workmanship.
Written by SaraP on 28 May, 2003
The earliest records are of Roman settlement in Scitarjevo (Andautonia) which declined on the arrival of the first Croats in 600 BC (check out the Roman remains around the cathedral of St Stephen). The first known Croatian king, Tomislav (you'll see his impressive horseback statue…Read More
The earliest records are of Roman settlement in Scitarjevo (Andautonia) which declined on the arrival of the first Croats in 600 BC (check out the Roman remains around the cathedral of St Stephen). The first known Croatian king, Tomislav (you'll see his impressive horseback statue on the open park right outside the main station -- cue photo below), ruled the Zagreb area as part of the Croatian state from 879 onwards.
Today's Zagreb derives from two once-competing medieval settlements on neighbouring hills. In 1094, a diocese was founded by Hungarian king, Ladislas, on Kaptol and later, in 1242, neighbouring Gradec(pronounced "Gradech") was proclaimed a free royal city by the Hungarian-Croat king, Bela IV, in appreciation of its inhabitants’ protection of him during a Turkish invasion in 1242. Each encampment had city walls and look-out towers (of which you can see some remains today).
During the Turkish onslaughts on Europe, between the 14th and 18th centuries, Zagreb was an border fortress, gaining in importance as the years passed. The first reference to Zagreb as the capital of Croatia dates from 1557, and the 1600s brought a flurry of historical activity: a lightning fire destroying the main church, the foundation of a Jesuit printing house, and a royal charter for the establishment of the university. The 1700 and 1800s heralded more progress: the first weekly newspaper was printed (in Latin), the government moved its seat to Zagreb, the first dedicated theatre building and first railway line opened. Revenues from trade fairs and landed estates contributed to the city's wealth, and affluent aristocratic families, royal officials, church dignitaries and rich traders from across Europe gravitated towards Zagreb, introducing their European manners and architectural designs. This Baroque makeover of the city changed its appearance - old wooden houses were demolished and in their place came opulent palaces, monasteries and churches (in the Lower Town, look for example for the creamy-yellow Exhibition Palace, the Strossmeyer and modern galleries and Archaeological Museum on the main street from the station to Jelacica Square). The medieval city borders could not hold this new vibrant melting-pot, which spread to the lowlands where the first parks and country houses were built, and the formal consolidation of Kaptol, Gradec and the new surrounding settlements gave rise to the city of Zagreb in 1850. The 1880 earthquake necessitated further reconstruction and allowed modernisation of many of the shabbier buildings to house the ever-growing population of the new city; you'll see that many buildings date from the 1890s.
Zagreb has had its share of natural disasters - flooding, blazes and earthquakes in particular - but obviously the worst problems to befall it have been the fallout from the historic problems throughout the Balkans which you might imagine might weigh down the capital and country with poverty and despair. If it does, it's not apparent - 30 May 1990 saw the first free, democratic, multi-party elections taking place, with 30 May becoming a national holiday known as Statehood Day, and the first session of the Croatian Parliament (Sabor) taking place shortly after. (The Parliament Building (and Presidential Residence) are in the Upper Town, either side of St Mark's Church; the former can occasionally be visited to see history in action.)
Zagreb looks a city on the up and up - shopping, accommodation and eating out are comparable in price to cities such as Paris, Rome or Barcelona, and tourism (especially from nearby Germany and Italy) is booming.
So much for history, now to the city itself . . .
Written by cheryl morris on 18 Sep, 2000
The first thing that hits you is the smell. Wild lavender permeates every corner of Croatia in summer. It blends with pine in the forests; scents the streets and is even hinted at on the seashore. Long stems of it reach out from every…Read More
The first thing that hits you is the smell. Wild lavender permeates every corner of Croatia in summer. It blends with pine in the forests; scents the streets and is even hinted at on the seashore. Long stems of it reach out from every crevice, from gardens to cracks in the highway.
Croatia is often associated with images taken from Reuters press of refugees struggling down wintry roads, dragging their few last possessions behind them, but the only thing that seems truly behind anyone here is the war.
I myself was not particularly crazy about the idea of heading over to Umag, a small resort town located on a horseshoe shaped peninsula jutting into the Adriatic Sea, but a hotel shortage in Venice and a need to be close to a sea led me here. It was a scenic three hour drive from Venice, but most people fly into Belgrade or Split and go from there.
Even more encouraging was learning that this place was the vacation spot of choice for ancient Roman nobles, and was once a part of Venice before Italy had to hand it back to Yugoslavia as punishment for being on the wrong side of the Second World War.
Indeed, much of the architecture was exactly what you would find in Venice, minus the canals—elaborate and richly detailed constructions based around cobblestone squares. Unfortunately, most of the hotels were constructed under communism when plywood and cement were favoured building materials. So popular was cement, apparently, that it was used to pave over the formerly rocky beaches!
All is not lost, though, as the water here is clean, clear, and welcoming. As well as swimming, rollerblading, cycling and taking long strolls along the waterfront kept me from piling on weight from the ridiculously heavy food. The temperatures were well into the 30’s, and yet plates of fatty meats, potato mayo-laden potato salad, dense white bread and boiled eggs were common staples. For breakfast. I am not kidding! That said, some wonderful seafood can be had at any of the restaurants on the beach, and juicy fruit is abundant in supermarkets and outside stalls.
As a young woman who was traveling alone, I had no major problems during the day. Besides sunbathing and exploring, I attempted some shopping, but here too, the effects of the old Soviet regime were evident: there was very little to buy, save incredibly tacky…Read More
As a young woman who was traveling alone, I had no major problems during the day. Besides sunbathing and exploring, I attempted some shopping, but here too, the effects of the old Soviet regime were evident: there was very little to buy, save incredibly tacky souvenirs and remarkably sexist postcards.
The majority of people visiting Umag are families, though there was a also a rather dodgy contingent of testosterone fueled football yobs, who drunkenly bellowed their team anthems well into the wee hours of dawn. The discos were full of these types of guys, but are worth going to for the kitch factor alone. The Human League, Duran Duran and Thomson Twins are all played with great frequency and no irony whatsoever.
I spent three days just relaxing in Umag, and that was enough. But I will never forget the way that it smelled, and the dried lavender that I brought back with me breathes memories of a tired Mediterranean beauty that is glad someone was able to enjoy her.
Places to Stay: There are many hotels lining the beach, all of which charge less than $50 per night for a room, in high season.
Some useful websites are:
Train is the most common way of getting around Croatia. Car rental is also popular.
There is no…Read More
Places to Stay: There are many hotels lining the beach, all of which charge less than $50 per night for a room, in high season.
Some useful websites are:
Train is the most common way of getting around Croatia. Car rental is also popular.
There is no need for Americans or Canadians, or any EU passport holders to get visas.