Welcome to Zagreb, the capital city of the Republic of Croatia. Zagreb is an old
Central European city. For centuries it has been a focal point of culture and science,
and now of commerce and industry as well. It lies on the intersection of important
routes between the Adriatic coast and Central Europe.
When the Croatian people achieved their independence in 1991, Zagreb became a capital
- a political and administrative centre for the Republic of Croatia. Zagreb is also
the hub of the business, academic, cultural, artistic and sporting worlds in Croatia.
Many famed scientists, artists and athletes come from the city, or work in it. Zagreb
can offer its visitors the Baroque atmosphere of the Upper Town, picturesque open-air
markets, diverse shopping facilities, an abundant selection of crafts and a choice
vernacular cuisine. Zagreb is a city of green parks and walks, with many places
to visit in the beautiful surroundings. The city will enter into the third millennium
with a population of one million. In spite of the rapid development of the economy
and transportation, it has retained its charm, and a relaxed feeling that makes
it a genuinely human city.
A brief history of Zagreb »
Today's Zagreb has grown out of two medieval settlements that for centuries developed
on neighbouring hills. The first written mention of the city dates from 1094, when
a diocese was founded on Kaptol, while in 1242, neighbouring Gradec was proclaimed
a free and royal city. Both the settlements were surrounded by high walls and towers,
remains of which are still preserved.
During the Turkish onslaughts on Europe, between the 14th and 18th centuries, Zagreb
was an important border fortress. The Baroque reconstruction of the city in the
17th and 18th centuries changed the appearance of the city. The old wooden houses
were demolished, opulent palaces, monasteries and churches were built. The many
trade fairs, the revenues from landed estates and the offerings of the many craft
workshops greatly contributed to the wealth of the city. Affluent aristocratic families,
royal officials, church dignitaries and rich traders from the whole of Europe moved
into the city. Schools and hospitals were opened, and the manners of European capitals
were adopted. The city outgrew its medieval borders and spread to the lowlands.
The first parks and country houses were built. Zagreb confirmed its position as
the administrative, cultural and economic centre of Croatia.
When Kaptol, Gradec and the surrounding settlements were administratively combined
into the integrated city of Zagreb in 1850, the development accelerated still more.
The disastrous earthquake of 1880 sparked off the reconstruction and modernization
of many shabby neighbourhoods and buildings. Prestigious public buildings were erected,
parks and fountains were made, and transportation and other infrastructures were
In the 19th century the population increased tenfold. The twentieth century brought
the Secession style to Zagreb. The city lived in the plenty of a civil society,
with firm links with all the central European centres. With an increase in wealth
and industry from the 1960s on, the city spread out over the wide plains alongside
the Sava River, where a new, contemporary business city has develop, ready for the
challenges of the third millennium.
Essential Zagreb »
Time is of the essence, so we’ve created a cheatsheet of sorts. See the best of
the city in only a couple of hours to prove to the guys at the pub that you’re cultured.
Ban Josip Jelačić Square (Trg bana Josipa Jelačića)
This Austro- Hungarian styled square is the true centre of the city. There’s a phenomenal
variety of cafés, shopping, feeding and people watching everywhere. It was named
after the impressive sculpture within its domain, that of Count Jelačić, his deadly
steed, and a sword so pointy and sharp that it could poke your eye out. Our count’s
image has inspired a number of political outbursts: in 1947 it was dismantled and
chucked into a corner somewhere because leaders found it overly representative of
nationalism in the country. The year 1990 brought it back into its current place,
this time leaders believing it perfectly nationalistic.
Dolac (Dolac Market)
Croatia is a country passionate about its produce, and nowhere is this more visible
than at the farmers’ market Dolac. Small producers from surrounding villages gather
in this central food mecca to sell their leafy greens and fleshy meats, which are
instantly snapped up. Find everything from turnips to bee pollen and unidentified
seeds that promise to straighten out your digestive tract. Old cafés and randomly
strewn bar stools (appearing deceptively free) surround the shopping chaos on the
upper level; while the meat hangs below your feet, in Dolac’s underground bunker
along with fresh produce, cheese, herbs, nuts, loose grains, olives by the kilo…and
much, much more. A separate fish room (amateurs prepare your nose pincers) and cheese
room (likewise) will keep you wandering through this ultimate homage to all things
Maksimir Park & the City Zoo (Maksimirski park i Zoološki vrt)
A perfect half-day outing for love birds, families, the four-legged, this place
will revitalise a tired soul. Leaves, lakes, grasses and dirt are all a part of
the equation as well as clouds, a sky and periodically the very sun! Blaring car
engines have been removed from this place and as such it’s a great escape. The 18
hectares of lush greenery and forest was opened to the public in 1794 and was the
first of its kind in this part of Europe. An added bonus, the city zoo is housed
within it. Catch tram N°11 or 12 from Trg bana Josipa Jelačića east (Dubec) to the
Bukovačka stop. The entrance to Maksimir park is on the north side of the street.
Home to the city zoo! www.zgzoo.com. Zoo is open 09:00 - 19:00, ticket office 09:00
- 18:00. Admission 20-30kn.
Croats in the capital city don’t mess around with the homage they pay to their lost
loved ones. A trip to Mirogoj, Zagreb’s main cemetery, confirms this immediately.
Situated on the slopes of the Medvednica mountain, it is one of the most beautiful
cemeteries in Europe. Lime-green cupolas top the wall that surrounds the memorial
park. Mirogoj is not only a burial place but also a beautiful park and open art
gallery. Not far from the present mortuary, in the period between 1852 and 1895
there stood the summer house of the Illyrian leader, Ljudevit Gaj. After his death
the municipality bought the complete estate and constructed the central Zagreb cemetery
upon it. The well-known architect Herman Bollé designed the shape of the cemetery,
applying a monumental composition of arcades, pavilions and domes, intermingled
with rich vegetation, and adding a gallery of sculptures by Croatian sculptors.
Getting There Bus N°106 from the Cathedral to Mirogoj takes 15min and costs 8kn.
You can also take tram N°14 from the main square heading east (to Mihaljevac) and
get out at the fourth stop (Gupčeva zvijezda).
Nikola Šubić Zrinski Square (Trg Nikole Šubića Zrinskog)
The combination of the outdoor gazebo, expertly manicured lawn, flowers, enormous
trees, fountains and statues make this sucker a brilliant place to take a load off.
This is the park closest to Trg bana Josipa Jelačića and you’ll be thrilled to see
that its also a make-out point: local lovers show-off their most complex and passionate
manoeuvres free of charge in this baby.
St Mark’s Church (Crkva sv. Marka)
The spectrum of colours displayed on the roof beautifully depicts the Croatian,
Dalmatian and Slavonian coats-of-arms and also the Zagreb city emblem and provides
for quite a lasting visual. Due to various natural disasters it has received a ton
of reconstruction and not a whole lot remains of the original 14th century building.
Inside, highlights include two works by Ivan Meštrović, Croatia’s most famous sculptor,
and frescoes by artist Jozo Kljaković.
Stone Gate (Kamenita vrata)
This archway was one of the four original entries into the walled Gornji Grad of
the feudal period. In 1731 a terrible fire destroyed much of the town, and legend
has it that a vision of the Virgin Mary could be seen in the burnt ash that remained
in this entry. It was reconstructed in 1760 and hasn’t been touched since. Today
you’ll find ladies praying in the church pews, black-soot ceilings and candles glowing
as a testament to a people and their faith.
The Cathedral of Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Katedrala Marijina Uznesenja)
A wonder of neo-Gothic artistry, the impressive and sharp looking towers stand out
from nearly anywhere you are in the entire city. Though it’s in an evidently permanent
state of reconstruction, it’s undeniably overwhelming and will push you to ponder
those larger things we can see you’ve been avoiding. Go ahead and wander inside
but don’t forget to turn the mobile off. A brief history: 1093 - founded; 1242 -
the initial Romanesque construction is finished. In the next 21 years it’s heavily
damaged in various sieges by the Tatars; 1624 - a series of sweeping fires practically
destroys it; 1645 - another wave of fires picks up where the last left off. It’s
reconstructed; 1880 - sustains serious damage during an earthquake. A 12-year restoration
takes place, at which time the neo-Gothic bell towers are raised skyward; 1990 -
exterior renovations set in motion to battle against the effects of time. Mass:
07:00, 08:00, 09:00, Sunday 07:00, 08:00, 09:00, 10:00, 11:30.
Tkalčićeva (Tkalčićeva street)
You mustn’t miss this street, for it is zoo-like, exhibiting humans in full chill
mode. It simultaneously encourages you to wander, sit, sip, dance, chat, primp,
preen, put out the vibe, read, write or sleep. You’ll be amazed by the sheer number
of people wandering around here late into the evening. It provides a unique visual
for a city that you’re starting to understand is very unique too!
What to see: Curiosities »
Quite possibly the shortest funicular, or indeed any tracked transportation, in
the world. Starting just off Ilica you can hitch a ride for 4kn up to the base of
the Lotrščak Tower that guards the entrance to Gornji Grad, that is of course if
you can’t be bothered to spend 30 seconds climbing the steps that run up the side
of the tracks. A boon for the lazy amongst us! Open 06:30 - 24:00.
The Black Eagle Pharmacy (Gradska ljekarna K crnom orlu)
The oldest pharmacy in Zagreb, it’s a protected cultural landmark. In the 17th and
18th centuries this pharmacy was the local hangout much like a bar or café today.
The Green Horseshoe (Zelena potkova)
A forward thinking urban planner by the name of Lenuci came along at the end of
19th Century and was instrumental in creating the so-called Green Horseshoe or Lenuci’s
Horseshoe. If you look at the region of the map, you’ll see an unmistakable green
U-shape that explains the name, famous both for the green spaces and the architecture
inside of it. The west leg is comprised of three squares: Trg Maršala Tita with
the Baroque and unmistakably yellow Croatian National Theatre; Mažuranićev trg and
Marulićev trg with beautiful art nouveau buildings, and the State Archives. The
southern leg is entirely comprised of the wonderful Botanical gardens. This glorious
return to nature is home to over 10 000 plant species, numerous park benches, lily
pads galore and ducks that quack. The east leg is also made up of three squares:
Trg kralja Tomislava with its Art Pavilion, Strossmayerov trg with the Gallery of
Arts and Sciences and finally the glorious Zrinjevac with its exquisite Music Pavilion.
This group of squares is worshipped by locals, tourists and animals of all types.
The Observatory (Zvjezdarnica)
Zagreb’s little known observatory is where you should head to make use of all those
wishes you’ve been stockpiling over the years. Befitting its 95- year-old history,
the Croatian Observatory is located in the picturesque surroundings of Gornji Grad
(upper town). The building continues to be a key post for scientific observation
of natural astronomical phenomena, and regularly hosts visitors - both young and
old - looking for a peek at stardust. For organized touristic tours admission is
10kn per person. Open Tue, Thu 21:00 - 22:00, Wed, Fri 20:00 - 22:00. Closed Mon,
Perhaps the most famous relic in Croatia is kept at the Archeological museum. The
mummified body from Thebes was bought by Mihael Bari in Egypt in 1848-49, which
you may think seems perfectly reasonable, yet the mummy is Etruscan and had no business
being across the Mediterranean. The Etruscans controlled large parts of west Italy,
including modern day Tuscany, from around 8 to 5 B.C. and only basics of their language,
which is pre-indo-European, are understood. The Zagreb Mummy, like many celebrities,
is actually more famous for her clothes than her personal talents. After her owner
died it was discovered that the bandages the mummy was wrapped in are strips of
a book made of linen. This book is the longest preserved text in the Etruscan language
and appears to be something similar to a liturgical calendar. The mummy is on permanent
display but her bonds are locked away and only revealed to experts.
Zagreb’s Solar System
The solar system in space? Pah! We’ve got one right here in Zagreb. If you’ve ever
wondered what the great big metal ball in Bogovićeva ulica is, the answer is, of
course, the sun - a sculpture made by Ivan Kožarić in 1971. In 2004 Davor Preis
created a scale model of the solar system around this mighty Sun, including planets
at the following urban locations: Mercury - Margaretska 3, Venus - Trg bana Josipa
Jelačića 3, Earth - Varšavska 9, Mars - Tkalčićeva 21, Jupiter - Voćarska 71, Saturn
- Račićeva 1, Uranus - Siget 9, Neptune - Kozari put, Pluto - Aleja Bologne (underpass).
Preis never revealed the locations of the planets, so finding them turned into a
game lasting until the last planet was “discovered” in 2006. It’s a great way to
get a feel for the dimensions of the
Local beers »
Croatia is blessed with some pretty decent locally brewed beers. The brew you’ll
come across depends to an extent on which part of the country you are in, which
is the local brewery and therefore the favoured local tipple. However, you’ll find
the leading Croatian brands Ožujsko and Karlovačko more or less everywhere.
How to order beer: ask for either a small or a large beer, or to be on the safe
side, by the decilitre (“deci” for short). In Zagreb a small beer is 33 dl, a large
beer is 50 dl (half a litre). However, on the coast, where beer warms up faster,
your request for a small beer may result in a miniscule 25 dl, while 33 dl is considered
This is the range of beers you’ll find in the average cafe or bar in the Zagreb
a light lager beer, slightly bitter and, as with most Croatian
beers of this type, a not inconsiderable 5.2% alcohol. Probably the most widespread
beer in Zagreb since it’s brewed locally. Ožujsko Cool is the alcohol-free version.
another lager, probably no. 2 in Zagreb by sales and
brewed in the neighbouring city of Karlovac. The alcohol-free version is Rally.
a relative newcomer which hit the market in 1997, made in Koprivnica,
northeast of Zagreb. Also available in a non-alcoholic version.
a rich dark beer also made in the Zagreb Brewery, almost
approaching a stout in character. 7.3% alcohol, it kicks like a donkey.
a favourite beer of younger generations, available in
light, dark and mixed (rezano) versions. Said to be particularly fine in flavour
as it’s brewed using Velebit mountain spring water according to German purity laws.
Not always easy to find in Zagreb but worth seeking out.
a small Zagreb brewery purveying its ales through five
of its own branded pubs. Choose between light and dark versions, mixed, extra strong
and wheat beer (pšenično pivo).
a microbrewery and pub on the corner of Savska and
Vukovarska, offering light, dark and mixed beer.