Croatia has many attractive and popular travel destinations, so the capital city of Zagreb might not be the first location that comes to mind when choosing a place or city to visit here. But Zagreb actually has a lot to offer, especially to people who like art, culture, history and good food. This article will walk you through some of the main attractions, some famous, other not so much, and also talk a bit about history.
To start of, it is worth mentioning that Zagreb was founded by merging two much older and smaller cities: Gradec and Kaptol.
Gradec, often referred to as the Upper city, as the name suggests, is located on one of the few hills in Zagreb. Historically it was a place where the nobles and upper class lived so you can find a lot of baroque and 19. century villas and palaces. In the center of Upper city there is a small but beautiful church of St. Mark. Upper city also has a lot of fairs and festivals throughout the year as well as cultural events. Except for the St. Mark’s church there are two must visit places on Gradec – Museum of broken relationships and St. Catherine’s church.
Museum of broken relationships
If you are tired of sightseeing you can visit one of the most popular and unique places here in Zagreb- Museum of broken relationships. It is, as the name suggests, a museum of past lovers of rather the things they left behind when the relationship came to an end. Along with the items there are short messages from the ex-lovers. Visiting this museum is a very unique experience and can quickly turn into a very emotional experience as it can remind you of your own past lovers and past relationships, so be prepared. Who knows, maybe you can even contribute to this museum. Visit their page to learn more, here is the link.
Saint Katherine’s church
A beautiful baroque Jesuit church with even more beautiful view of the Zagreb. Next to the church these is a big open courtyard that is open for public. As mentioned you can enjoy the view, but if you find yourself here in the hot summer days you might encounter a quaint little open cinema playing classic movies.
Other popular institutions include Museum of naive art, Zagreb city museum, Observatory, Greek Catholic church of Chiril and Method and many more.
Kaptol are fairly close to each other, with Kaptol located east of Gradec. It was founded in 1094. when the Roman catholic diocese was founded. Unlike Gradec, which is central in it ground plan, Kaptol has a dedicated north-south axis with one main street. It is full of picturesque houses but the main attraction is no other that the Cathedral.
Originally Zagreb Cathedral was a Romanesque building built over 700 years ago. It survived many different administrations, governments, as well as fair share of wars and destruction. Different styles from different periods left their mark on this church and many of those can still be seen on the exterior and interior of the building. The magnificent front facade we see today is the result of a radical and controversial 19th century restoration.
Before the radical change, the Cathedral was much less luxurious. It had only one tower and the main facade heavily reminded of Romanesque roots. It was dilapidated and in desperate need of renovation. Even today, there are many professionals that critique the radical change that this building went through. Although they have some fair points, the new face of the church (or rather cathedral) brought a fresh smile on the citizens of Zagreb faces’ and continues to do so even today, not only to citizens of Zagreb, but to tourists and travelers from all over the world.
Tolkien’s House (pub)
For all you Tolkien and Lord of the Rings lovers this is the place to be. Located just 5 minutes away from the Cathedral, in a desolate little street, across the entrance to St. Francis church. Let your imagination run wild and you will find yourself in a different world. Forget the outside world and enjoy entering a new one, even before you go into the pub itself. Enjoy your stay at this pub, have a drink, feel the atmosphere, you will not regret it.
North of Cathedral and Tolkien’s House, just a few bus-stops away, there is a must-see monument. This might sound weird as we are talking about cemetery. But Mirogoj is one of most beautiful cemeteries in this part of Europe and maybe even further. Designed and built by one of Croatia’s most prominent and influential 19. century architects Herman Bollé (who also restored the Cathedral and St. Mark’s church, and many other monuments in Zagreb), it stands as one of the most beautiful and impressive monuments in this city.
North of Zagreb, on the south side of mountain Medvednica, located is the burg of Medvedgrad. Name burg often refers to an old, medieval fortified town. Its name literary means Bear city. It was built for defense purposes against Tatar’s attacks, but thanks to the great fortification and probably the location on the mountain it was never attacked. Instead, the sovereigns of Medvedgrad often attacked surrounding villages themselves and occasionally even Zagreb fell victim to these attacks. The city was abandoned in the 16th century after a big earthquake had devastated it but it has been revitalized as a local and tourist attraction in the second part of 20th century. You can visit Medvedgrad to get a real feel for the medieval times as this city is mostly intact by the modern hand and, unlike Cathedral and many other monuments in Zagreb, evaded the radical 19th century restoration.
Zagreb has a lot more to offer, but locations listed in this article will provide very unique experiences for all and every kind of visitor and traveler.