Hello, dear guests and welcome to Zagreb. My name is Iva and I am going to be your tour guide for today – THIS is the sentence most of the tour guides begin the city tour – is it enough to keep you reading?
Or should I start with – WELCOME TO THE CRAZY, COOL, FUNNY, BEAUTIFUL, CULTURAL, URBAN, HISTORICAL, MODERN, CUTE, COLOURFUL CITY of ZAGREB ? – better?
Ok, now that I have your attention, allow me to introduce my hometown.
Photo: Julien Duval
Today, Zagreb is the capital city of Croatia with almost 1 million people living here( including the wider city area ) Hardly believable that it was a medieval town once. The story of Zagreb begins a long time ago with two hills – Kaptol and Gradec.
Kaptol, now the site of Zagreb ́s cathedral, was a prosperous canonical settlement in the 11th century, while another small settlement was developing on nearby Gradec hill where one of the most beautiful and recognizable rooftops of St.Marko church, found its spot. Strolling through the same streets today gives you an insight of some long forgotten times luring you to get lost in the fairy tale, stories, and legends that are grown into the city. Getting lost here is „a must“, even dough there s not a chance of actually getting lost ?
Photo: M. Gasparovic
As time passed, Zagreb grew, and it took a while, but finally, in the 17th century, the place started to spread downtown forming a much bigger city. In the imagined border between the Upper and Lower town, stand proudly Josip ban Jelačić, riding his horse Emir, greeting every visitor ( local or tourist ) and pointing thowards my neighborhood (yeah, because I am that important ?). But, anyway, if you do follow the direction of his saber you are in for a treat – Zagreb green horseshoe – a sequence park s and squares, forming a horseshoe shape, each special in its own way. Needless to say that it is important to have green areas in the city, we definitely have enough of them. My favorite – „Park Mladenaca“ – a small green oasis in neighborhood that exists only because newlyweds would plant a tree there after getting married – setting the roots in a way. Needless to say that this fun fact was not important to me when spending a childhood there… This is in „New“ Zagreb – about 60 years ago, the city decided to cross over the river Sava and grow into a cute little metropolis.
During history we have been attacked by barbaric tribes, hit earthquakes caught on fire, bombed but always came out of it stronger and bigger. The past made us what we are today leaving behind tradition, food, stories, songs, buildings, dances, statues and all of the other reminders that this place is alive for centuries, still rocking hard.. ? To sum it all up – today, Zagreb is an awesome city, full of life, chilling in the shades of Medvednica hill.
GREEN, GREENER, ZAGREB
It is well known that Croatians are huge nature lowers and that we adore our small and big green gems. Zagreb made sure we have enough of parks, forests, lakes, courtyards, and even a mountain so we can enjoy their beauty and peace – around 75% has a „green carpet“. Of course, we are not selfish and we will share our green spots with all of you.
The already mentioned – Lenuci ́s horseshoe – is probably best known by Zrinjevac park – the most popular park in the city which hosts many outdoor events such as jazz concerts, dance evenings, movie nights, stands up,… Even when nothing is happening, you can always find people here chillin ́.
One more from the “Lenuci family” is the Botanical Garden – a perfect hideout from the city buzz with over 10,000 types of plants and full of small paths and cute corners (perfect for a date ?).
Photo: Julien Duval
The green horseshoe is the Downtown, but the Uppertown also has its charms – The Courtyards. Since Zagreb is a medieval city you can imagine how picturesque it must be to walk trough the streets and every now and then pop into a hidden courtyard. Many of them are private and usually closed but twice a year about 10 of them are opening their doors to public organizing small live concerts or shows.
A little bit outside of city center Maksimir park is welcoming its visitors. Bigger than Central Park in New York it hides many interesting spots and features. It is the home of Zagreb ZOO, 5 lakes, many playgrounds, and my absolute favorite – a memorial mound made out of soil brought from 155 places around Croatia. This was built in 1925 on the 1000th anniversary of the Croatian kingdom, along with a time capsule holding random things from that period with a plan to open it in 100 years / so 2025 if my math is correct )
Photo: Julien Duval
When it comes to recreation, the synonym for this are two of our city lakes – Jarun and Bundek. Both of them are man-made. Jarun is bigger and maybe more popular among tourist because of the InMusic festival. There are many outdoor activities available – bike rides, swimming, volleyball, rowing, kayaking, canoeing, stand up paddling, wind surf, and more. With bars and a lot of public areas for hanging out, laying on the beach or having a picnic these two lakes are a perfect nature getaway.
The most obvious green place of Zagreb i also the biggest – Medvednica hill with little over 1000m standing above us looking over its faithful visitors. With many hike and bike trails, mountain houses and restaurants, medieval castle Medvedgrad and numerous beautiful viewpoints, this wonderful place is the most popular weekend getaway for citizens of Zagreb..
Photo: M. Mihaljević
After reading this I am pretty sure you understand why we love our city so much and I already feel you are packing your bags, searching how to arrive to Zagreb so let s meet for a coffee