ZigZagging Our Way Through Europe
Having finished our morning coffee and anxious to begin exploring Zagreb, we set off to the Tuškanova tram station just a few meters from our apartment. We wanted to start early since the forecast was for temperatures in the high 30s (90s F). Today, we’re going to Upper Town Zagreb, the oldest part of the city.
The Zagreb Tram is such a pleasure to take. Easy to navigate, air conditioned and inexpensive, it is becoming our favorite mode of transportation. Our first stop is Ban Jelačić Square that sits directly below the Upper Town. We’ll tell you more about this popular square in a later post.
Zagreb is comprised of two sections: the Upper Town and the Lower Town. The Upper Town is the oldest section rising on the hills above the city. Full of charm, it offers an array of historical sites to visit and in many ways reminds us of the old towns of Prague and Bratislava.
As we walk the steep streets to Upper Town, we pass numerous outdoor cafes and, of course, the usual souvenir shops. A funicular is also available to ride, however, its 66 meter track makes it one of the shortest public transport funiculars in the world.
Walking up the cobbled street, we couldn’t help but notice the two prominent spires of the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary rising majestically over the tiled roofs.
Contruction of the cathedral began in the 13th century. On 9 November 1880, an earthquake caused severe damage to the cathedral and stopped its wooden clock at 7 hours, 3 minutes and 3 seconds. It continues to show the time the earthquake struck 142 years later.
The cathedral again sustained damage in another earthquake that took place on 22 March, 2020. While the cathedral continues to be under renovation, it gave us an opportunity to get a closer view of one of the damaged spires.
Guarding the entrance to the cathedral is a magnificent Statue of the Holy Mary with the four angels symbolizing the virtues of Faith, Hope, Innocence and Humility.
Another popular site is Saint Mark Church, famous for its tile roof constructed in 1880 by Fredrich Schmidt and Herman Belle. The medieval coat of arms of Croatia, Dalmatia and Slavonia can be seen on the left side and the emblem of Zagreb on the right side.
As we passed between the Lower and Upper Town just north of the Ban Jelačić Square is the Stone Gate, the only remaining entrance of Zagreb’s old fortifications. Built in the 13th century, it was originally one of the four main gates leading into the town. A great fire in 1731 destroyed the wooden gate with the exception of a painting of the Virgin Mary and Child which is now a shrine.
According to legend, the painting possesses miraculous powers and it’s not uncommon to see people lighting candles and praying in the pews facing the shrine. The square stone slabs surrounding the painting are engraved with praise to the Virgin Mary.
Standing 30 meters high, we climbed the 140 steps to the top of the Lotrščak Tower. Built in the 13th century to guard the southern gate of the city’s fortification, it offers the most incredible panoramic view of Zagreb.
We were surprised by the amount of green space in Zagreb. From private gardens …
to lush parks, there is a never ending effort to keep Zagreb ranked among the top ‘Greenest Cities’ in Croatia.
Leaving the Lotrščak Tower, we walked along a winding, shaded path providing exceptional vistas of the city below.
To our right was Park Grič, a charming park featuring a part of the old medieval defense wall of Zagreb. Around its fountain, people were leisurely relaxing on the numerous park benches either enjoying the views, reading a book or on their mobile phones.
The park is steeped in history and was actually an archaeological site where remains of a medieval palace were excavated. It is also anchored by the now abandoned Hydrometeorological Institute where in 1910, Andrija Mohorovičić, a world-known researcher discovered a layer between the Earth’s crust and mantle that causes earthquakes.
As we begin our walk down the steps from Upper Town, we pass one of Zagreb’s numerous street art projects, a Wall of Hearts Mural, reminding us of how welcoming the people of Zagreb and the country of Croatia are.
Coming Up Next, we explore more of Zagreb’s Upper Town and Lower Town. Join us by subscribing to Capturing The Art of Living –
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