There is something extremely romantic in Zagreb. The capital of Croatia and its largest city seems like it has somehow captured the spirit of its glorious past. The streets of old part of the city whisper stories of forgotten aristocratic conspiracies and of Austrian and Hungarian royal style. Spring is probably the best time to visit Zagreb because at that time the city looks amazing, particularly the Old Town with its charming streets with numerous cafés and taverns where you can sit for hours, like locals do – people in Croatia really like to sit in coffee bars, on the terraces and drink their coffee for hour and hours. Surprisingly, the streets if Zagreb hide many secret locations of historical significance that even people who live there are surprised from time to time. If you have never been to Zagreb or you are one of those people who were in Zagreb but only to continue their journey to the Adriatic, think again and consider preparing yourself for a dazzling experience of this charming European city.
Zagreb has a population of approximately 1 million. Considering the fact that Croatia has about 4 million citizens, it is obvious that the majority of Croats live in Zagreb. It is an old middle-European city on the Sava River, situated at the foothills of the Medvednica Mountain. Its favorable geographical position has made it what it is today - cultural, economic, cinematic, sporting and governmental hub of the country.
Zagreb became the capital of Croatia in 1991, when Croatia gained its independence. However, its history goes way back to Roman times. The name Zagreb was mentioned for the first time in 1094 when two Hungarian settlements emerged: Kaptol and Gradec – each standing on its own hill, facing each other. Not long after, in 1242, these two settlements were destroyed by the Mongols. Of course, Kaptol and Gradec have been rebuilt, but have also undergone a period of rivalry which ended when they needed to stand united against the attack of the Turks. Today, the Kaptol hill is the home of the Grand Cathedral, the bishop and the rest of the gang, as it was in 1904.
Gradec on the other hand, or Gornji Grad (Upper Town) as the locals call it, is the place that looks enchanted. There are many myths and legends of the witches, maidens, knights and you should read them, at least briefly, before visiting Gornji Grad. When you are walking down its streets you really feel like you’ve been transported to that medieval time. Both Gradec and Kaptol were fortified by defensive walls and towers which can be seen today. The city later expanded around these two settlements. The origin of the name Zagreb is still a mystery, however.
During the 17th and 18th century baroque style was introduced into the interiors of the Cathedral as well as into many new mansions and residences. In addition to this new style, another novelty was knocking at the door too. Back then people held fairs to promote trade and manufacture and at certain point the authorities realized that the common places (in front of Cathedral for example) are becoming too small they decided to leave the defensive walls on the hills. They didn’t go far, but to a garden lying underneath both Gradec and Kaptol which they turned into a market place. That place is today known as the Jelačić square and it is the center of the city.
The Baroque reconstruction changed the appearance of the city. Old wooden houses were replaced with opulent palaces, monasteries and churches. Many trade fairs contributed to the wealth of the city as well as the revenues from the properties and the many craft shops. Wealthy aristocratic families, royal officials, church dignitaries and rich traders from all over Europe came to live in Zagreb. Schools and hospitals started to emerge and the city outgrew its medieval borders and spread to the lowlands. The first parks and country estates show up. Zagreb confirmed its position as the administrative, economic and cultural center of the Croatia. The development accelerated even more during and after 1850 when Kaptol, Gradec and surrounding villages became one city – the city of Zagreb. The disastrous earthquake in 1880 launched the reconstruction and modernization of many neighborhoods and buildings. Prestigious public buildings were built, as well as parks and fountains. Zagreb was introduced to organized public transportation and new infrastructure.
In 19th century the population increased tenfold. The 20th century brought the Secession style to Zagreb and the city was strongly associated with the central European centers of culture, art and science.
Now that you have briefly been introduced to Zagreb and if you are anything like us then you’re thinking ‘hm, I might go there and see if the witch story is true’. This is a proper moment to say something about the accommodation in Zagreb, right? Well, if one thing, then accommodation in Zagreb is diverse, and therefore appropriate for each "pocket". Hotels in Zagreb range from large, high-end hotels, which operate as part of big hotel chains to accommodation in private houses. The rates and other services depend, of course, upon the hotel.
Basically, the accommodation in Zagreb can be divided in two categories. First category belongs to hotels, motels and hostels while the second to private facilities like apartments, rooms and bed and breakfast places. Of course, you are aware of advantages and disadvantages of each category so it is for you to decide in what direction you wish to head. As for prices for hotel rooms, they usually start somewhere at 50 € for single room. We don’t know where they end though, as we haven’t checked the prices of Presidential suites at certain high-end hotels. You do the math. Private accommodation on the other hand ranges from 30 to 100 €. Probably the cheapest option is to stay in hostel, where prices are about 17€.
The easiest way to get to Zagreb is by plane of course. Zagreb Airport is located 17 km from the center of the city, or 20-25 minutes by bus. Zagreb is well connected by all means of transportation, so choose whatever you prefer.
Historical treasures are kept and exhibited in museums. Besides the items related to the history of the city, museums and art collections from all around the world, of remarkable historical and artistic value. possess exhibits
If you are a party animal you will be happy to hear that Zagreb has many clubs and venues that are frequently visited by many world famous DJs, bands, singers. We heard that tourists don’t like Croatian music, but have no fear; there are only few clubs that play that kind of music.
For all of you romantic folks, Zagreb has so many things to see and feel, but make sure to explore all of its parks and surrounding forests as these are unique in their beauty. The city itself has its own Central Park that goes by the name of Maksimir Park. When it was opened to the public in 1794 it was the first public promenade in this part of Europe. It was named after its founder, the Zagreb bishop Maximilian Vrhovec, who, with Archbishop Haulika was most responsible for its development. Maksimir is arranged in the area of oak forest in mid-19th century. The new park alleys were surrounded by meadows and lawns full of decorative flowers and shrubs, while around it the natural oak forest remained.
The climate in Zagreb is mild continental with average summer temperature of 20°C and average winter temperature: 1°C. At least that’s what they say. The real feel during the summer is more like 35°C and during the winter it often goes below zero.
No matter the weather, there’s a wealth of everything in Zagreb, so enjoy the pubs, explore the museums and galleries, dance at concerts or go wild in the shopping malls. Just remember - whatever you do, do it with style.