Our day trip from Croatia to neighboring Montenegro began early. Although it is less than an hour to the border from Dubrovnik, we wanted to start early to make our way along the Adriatic coast to the town of Kotor.Continue reading “Kotor, Montenegro”
We set off this morning to continue exploring the Upper Town and Lower Town in Zagreb, Croatia.
Just a short tram ride from our apartment on Tuskanova ulica, the Ban Jelačić Square has been Zagreb’s main marketplace since 1641.
Today, it is the dividing point between the Upper Town and Lower Town. By day the square is the city’s commercial heart, but at night it stands at the centre of Zagreb’s social life with the two most popular meeting points being “under the clock” or “under the horse’s tail” referring to the statue of Ban Jelačić.
We next took the funicular situated just off the Square to Upper Town (Zagreb’s Old Town). Zagreb’s funicular is the world’s shortest funicular, but at only 5Kn (€0.66) it’s well worth it.
Specifically we wanted to visit the Black Eagle Pharmacy. Located in a small building next to the Stone Gate, this pharmacy has been in constant operation since 1355.
While the exterior has been renovated several times (the last renovation being in 1823) …
the interior is preserved in as close to its original form as possible.
We also stopped at the Dolac Market, the popular outdoor farmer’s market featuring fresh produce and flowers. Known for the myriad of stalls sheltered by red umbrellas, the Market has been a favorite of locals for over 80 years.
We then set out to the Lower Town, the bustling city center of Zagreb filled with businesses, shops, museums and green parks. The architecture is a mix of grand Austria-Hungarian, gothic and contemporary all blending together.
Among the highlights is Lenuci’s Horeseshoe, a series of seven interconnected parks designed by the 19th century urban planner Milan Lenuci. It’s no wonder that Zagreb has ranked among the greenest cities in the world.
An easy walk from Park Grič is the Museum of Arts and Crafts. Established in 1880 and designed in a style reminiscent of a neo-Renaissance palace, the museum houses collections of 14th – 20th century fine and applied art.
Situated directly across from the Museum is the Zagreb School of Music.
The contrasting architecture of the two buildings exemplifies the blend of contemporary, classical, eccentric and esoteric design found throughout the city.
With temperatures hovering well over 32° C (90° F), we decided to call it a day, but there is so much more of this city to discover.
Have you been to Zagreb? Tell us about it!
Follow Us As We Continue To ZigZag 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 –
With the cost of travel increasing, it’s becoming more and more costly to plan trips abroad. Especially when facing unexpected interruptions to flight schedules and changing entry regulations. That’s why we decided to spend a month based in Zagreb, Croatia. Not only can we leisurely experience all the City has to offer, but we can easily book plane and train tickets throughout Central Europe.
While Split and Hvar, Croatia have become popular destinations with their beaches and promenades lining the Adriatic Sea, the inland city of Zagreb is often overlooked.
We decided the best way to enjoy Zagreb is to ‘live like a local’, which means spending the day becoming acquainted with the city we will be calling home for the next month. While Croatia is a member of the European Union, it has not yet converted to the Euro, electing instead to remain on the Croatia Kuna (Kn). As of this writing, 1 Kn is equal to 0.13€ /0.14USD, making Croatia a very affordable destination.
What better way to start our first day than with an early morning cup of coffee at a neighborhood caffe bistro. Plavi Klub Caffe Bar at the corner of utica Greg Tuskana and utica Frana Vrbanca is just that place. The fact that it is directly below our apartment is a plus as well!
At only10 Kn (€1.33), I quickly discovered why a Starbucks is nowhere to be found.
Like many large cities, Zagreb is not necessarily a walking city. Fortunately, an efficient tram system is available that is surprisingly easy to navigate. Single trip and day passes can be purchased at any kiosk or from the tram driver. We chose the day pass for 30Kn (€3.98) that gives us unlimited tram access anywhere in the city. Clean, modern and air conditioned, they make a comfortable way to get around. Tip: Download the Moovit app, a free real-time public transit application perfect for finding mass transit timetables and routes worldwide.
Zagreb is a mix of ecclesiastical and brutalist architecture coming together to make it a delight to explore.
Yet, behind the seemingly neglected classic facades lie lush gardens providing a sense of tranquility in the middle of a busy city.
Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, ranks among the oldest cities in Central Europe dating back to 1094. It is also the most populated city in Croatia. While English is not the first language, we found it widely spoken in varying degrees. I have yet to encounter anyone in Zagrib whose English is as bad as my Croatian, but as poor as my Croatian may be, everyone we have encountered is friendly and helpful!
Next on our list of things to do – groceries. While the romance of a cup of expresso followed by a fresh baguette from a local boulangerie floats in my head, reality sits in. After all, we’re used to large supermarkets.
Luckily, Zagreb provides both. We found a local bakery at the opposite corner of our street with wonderful freshly baked breads and pastries as well as handmade sandwiches.
While the Spar Supermarket, located just 300m from our apartment, is a fully stocked supermarket comparable to any in the United States. With over 150 stores, it is one of the top three retailers in Croatia.
The rush to fill our basket to the brim is quickly squashed (pun intended) when we remember the compact size of European refrigerators. If we’re going to ‘live like a local’, then we need to learn how to ‘shop like a local’ … only stock the necessities and buy what you need daily while it’s fresh. A habit I hope to keep when we return home.
We come to the end of our first day of our two month experience and we’re craving … pizza! We won’t make our move to Bologna, Italy for another thirty days but tonight pizza is on our minds. Fortunately, Zagreb delivers again with Franko’s Pizza and Bar. Located at 71a Branimirova ul, Franko’s was voted Best Pizzaria in Croatia for 2021 and 2022. With pizzas starting at 56Kn (7.44€) it is a reminder why Zagreb is such an affordable destination.
So ends our first day in Zagreb. Tomorrow, the journey continues as we start exploring this historic city and invite you to join us.
Have you been to Zagreb? Tell us about it!
Follow Us As We Continue To ZigZag Our Way Through Europe –