The main attractions, Zagreb
As it gets dark relatively early in Zagreb, you shouldn't miss a stroll around the town in darkness. Some historical buildings and squares of Zagreb are beautifully illuminated at night.
Among them is the Jelacic Square, the Croatian National Theatre and the Fortification Towers near the cathedral (For more night shots, please have a look at my travelogue "Zagreb by night").
Many well worth seeing statues can be found in and around the city centre of Zagreb. The most famous is probably the horse statue at the Jelacic Square.
Other interesting statues include August Senoa leaning against an advertisement pillar (at the corner of Vlaska and J. Branjug Street) or St. George on a horse (near Kamenita vrata). Many more can be seen all around the town, so just keep your eyes open, when wandering around the town.
Favorite thing: A.G. Matos was one of Croatia's most famous writers. Born in 1873 and died in 1914, he witnessed the important political, cultural and social changes which happened at the turn of the century. Some of his most beautiful poems were dedicated to the city of Zagreb, and in his memory a sculpture of him sitting at the bench was placed in one of the nicest parts of town with the great view over the city, Strossmayer's promenade in Upper Town, so he could look over Zagreb forever. Sit next to him for a moment and share the view.
Just like in every town in Italy there is a Garibaldi street, there is probably a ban Jelacic street (or square) in every town in Croatia. Perhaps the most famous and popular historical person in Croatia, ban Jelacic was a Croatian nobleman and an Austrian general under whose reign Croatia became united for the first time after being torn between 5 different countries for centuries. He abolished the feudal system in 1848 and promoted Croatian autonomy within the Austro-Hungarian state. His name was Josip Jelacic, and the title 'ban' related to his title of duke, or vice-king, the most important position in old Croatian political system - something like prime minister today.
He is celebrated in songs and poems, sculptures and paintings, and the largest square in Zagreb bears the name of ban Jelacic.
Fondest memory: The ban Jelacic monument was made in 1866 by Austrian artist Anton Dominik Fernkorn. It was placed at the main square and for many years it symbolised Croatian national pride and heroic spirit. It remained there until 1947, when it was secretly taken away by the communist government that found it ideologically unsound. It was dismantled and meant to be destroyed, however it was saved by dr. Antun Bauer, the manager of Gliptoteka gallery, who kept it hidden in the basement of his gallery for almost 50 years.
When Croatia regained its independence in early '90's, the statue was returned to its original position at the main square in Zagreb, much to the delight of people of Zagreb and all of Croatia.
As far as I know, there are two statues of St George the Dragonslayer in Zagreb - one at Trg marsala Tita, in front of HNK (Croatian National Theatre), and another at Kamenita vrata, on your way to Gornji grad. The latter is less known but far more beautiful in my opinion. It was sculptured in 1944 by Austrian artists, Kompatscher & Winder, as a tribute to the patron saint of "Druzba hrvatskog zmaja" association.
The first thing you notice about the sculpture is its static quality. As opposed to the usual dragonslaying posture, St George's powerful presence radiates dignity and tranquility, as he pays respect to the dead dragon. Another thing that is noticeable is the coloration - the knight is black and the dragon is white, which is very interesting considering the symbolic meaning of the colours.
There are many parks in Zagreb, actually it might be cold the green town. Everywhere you walk around there is at least one greeen corner with flowers foliage and the fountain. Maksimir, Tuškanac and Ribnjak, the huge city parks inside the town, are coloquialy called by the locals as the "pulmons of the town".
Fondest memory: Maksimir has 18 hectars of lush greenery and forest, opened to the public in 1794 and was the first of its kind in this part of Europe. It is the perfect spot for a half day outing.
Trg Bana J.Jelacica (Ban J.Jelacic Square) has been a square since the 17th century. The all buildings surrounding it today were built in last two hundreds years in variety of styles, from Classicism and Secession to Modernism.
According to a legend, Zagreb got its name from a chance meeting at this square, when a viceroy called out to a girl standing near the well: "Manduso ZAGRABI (scoop), and that is how the well came to be named Mandusevac, and the town Zagreb.
When visiting Zagreb, most of the tourist start walking tour at this point.
Kaptol brings us back to the name of Zagreb. The town was mentioned for the first time in writing in 1094, in a charter issued by King Ladislas I by which he founded the Zagreb Bishopric.
The area of Kaptol is dominated by the Cathedral of the Assumption of Virgin Mary and St. Stephen. There was an oldest church here in King Ladislas' time, as well as a Romanesque cathedral which was badly damaged during the invasion of the Tartars.
The present look of the cathedral dates back at the beginning of the 20th century. Invaluable treasures are stored in the Cathedral Treasury, dating from the founding of the Zagreb Bishopric in the 11th century.
Gradec or Gornji grad (the Upper Town) was proclaimed a free and royal city in 1242. Some remains of the ramparts that once surrounded the city are still visible.
The Baroque reconstructions that the city underwent in the 17th and 18th century changed the shape of Gradec. In 1890 the two separate units, Kaptol and Gradec have been unificationed into the united city of Zagreb.
The Square of Ivan Subic Zrinjski, coloquially called Zrinjevac, close the northern part of the Lenuci green horseshoe. It is one of the most favorite pedestrian areas of the city, especially in the sunny Winter days.
Other citizens of Zagreb like it better in the Spring or Summer, when big platanas create refreshing shadow.
I love it when I go to a place that doesn't get enough credit. I mean, how many people are in their North American offices talking about planning a trip to that hot spot in southeastern Europe, full of cafes and architectural magnificence known as Zagreb? Uhhhhh. I spend the majority of my days in a North American office, and I've never heard that conversation. So, when I arrived and began to explore, I had to tell my local VT friends that they were lucky to live in such a beautiful place.
Fondest memory: Niksa and I had a conversation about this. We were walking in the Upper Town and I was gazing around at the hilly, stone streets, the charming buildings and a small passageway that led to a stairway that is a shortcut to the Lower Town. It was all amazing to me. Like stepping into another time. Of course, Niksa was just walking down the street as he had done a thousand times and we started talking about how we tend to love to see things that we're not normally accustomed to at home. For him, it's the more modern architecture that he loves and for me, I love the elegance of the old.
At the southern end of the Art Pavalion park in Zagreb stands a statue of King Tomislav which you can see here. The statue has the king riding his horse and the horse has one leg raised in the air, there has been some discussion that this symbolizes a person wounded in battle and then dying as a result of the wound later, if you are interested, there was an article at:
Favorite thing: This is the Stone Gate that Hrvojka took us to see, it is rebuilt from the older gates that were constructed in the Middle Ages. You can see 1760 engraved in the stone above the gate as the date of the last reconstruction. According to legend the painting of the Blessed Virgin and Child was left unscathed when the gate was burned down and recovered from the ashes of the gate. Today it stands just inside the gate and many people come to worship here.
Favorite thing: Near St. Mark's Square, you can find the old city hall and here you will also find as the sun sets that they light the gas lights. We did not have time to stay and see the lights at night, but it should be somewhat different than neon, what do you think..
Favorite thing: Spread throughout the town, you'll notice statues and monuments to history, religion and politics. All of these small touches give the place of feeling of significance. It makes it hard to just walk down the street aimlessly looking at yet another storefront or boring, merely functional sidewalk. When I see a statue, even if I don't know the history behind it, I realize that something important and worth remembering is being recognized here and it makes me want to learn.