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Thursday, 14 March 2013 09:55

Zagreb: Croatia’s Culture Capital

Written by 

Zagreb, the capital city of Croatia, is also its largest city. Travelers who visit Croatia but bypass Zagreb on their way to the cities along the Adriatic coast are missing out on some of Croatia’s most inviting and interesting historical locations, as well as a wealth of art and cultural experiences. 

Getting Around

Ban Jelacic Square, Zagreb’s main city square, is inaccessible by car, but served by the city’s tram service. Surrounding this great square are all routes to the main sightseeing locations and popular tourist destinations. The city has made it easy for guests to visit all of its highlights. Available for tourist transport are electric trams offered by the Zagreb Municipal Transit System. A wonderful tourist attraction within the historical part of the city is a funicular (uspinjaca), which takes tourists on a short but steep ride between the Upper and Lower Towns. For an even more exciting perspective, visitors can take a guided tour of the city on a Segway, or by bicycle.

Visit Gornji Grad (translated Upper Town) and Kaptol, a medieval urban complex of churches, palaces, museums, galleries and government buildings. It includes most of the oldest parts of Zagreb and many of the main sights. Highlights include the Croatian Parliament buildings, and the city’s breathtaking cathedral at Kaptol 31, with spires that can be seen throughout the city. The historic district can be reached on foot, or via the funicular on nearby Tomiceva Street. Very popular is the pedestrian cafe street Tkalciceva, lined with restaurants, cafes and boutiques, some of which are open into the wee hours.

 

Some Cultural Offerings

Zagreb is Croatia’s cultural center, boasting HNK Zagreb, or Croatia’s National Theatre. First opened in 1895, it serves the community as a theatre, opera and ballet house and is owned and operated by the Ministry of Culture. Within the city, there are a wealth of other theaters, art galleries and museums.

Located in the Kulmer Palace in the Upper Town, is a museum with a unique and emotional collection. Once a traveling exhibition, The Museum of Broken Relationships (www.brokenships.com) displays miscellaneous items representing failed relationships, accompanied by the poignant history of each submission. Thought provoking and moving, this museum is a must-see. 

The city’s calendar boasts many cultural events enjoyed by visitors and residents throughout the year. Festivals celebrate food, wine, music and the arts and much more. 

 

Green Spaces

The parks and open spaces of Zagreb offer nature at its finest. Maksimir Park (www.park-maksimir.hr), located northeast of the city center has history combined with nature, including meadows, lakes, streams and an oak tree forest. Stop at the gatekeeper’s cabin to view a documentary about the park’s history, and get information about events in the park. Also located within the park is the Zagreb City Zoo (www.zgzoo.com/en). All the city’s parks display wonderful flora and fauna, but a walk through the over one-century-old botanical garden, Botanicki Vrt (hirc.botanic.hr/vrt/home.htm), with its arboretum and footbridge offers charm from the past, amidst the research being done by the University of Zagreb botany department.

Any traveler to Zagreb should do a little shopping, perhaps for souvenirs to bring home to remember their trip to this special city. A very popular item for purchase here and throughout Croatia is the cravat. The precursor to today’s necktie, the cravat originated in Croatia, and became a men’s fashion item during the 17th century. The word cravat is derived from the word “Croat”. Visit shopping malls and local boutique shops found throughout the city. The Dolac Market is an open-air market, offering fresh produce, fish and local crafts.

Zagreb has an expansive website (www.zagreb-touris
tinfo.hr
) that includes accommodations, sightseeing, tour offerings and other information for planning a trip. 

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