Zagreb is the capital and most important city of Croatia, a small country situated in south-eastern Europe, between the Adriatic Sea, Slovenia, Hungary, Serbia and Bosnia Herzegovina. The city is a cultural, economic and political center of the country. It is located between the southern slopes of Medvednica Nature Park and the Sava River and has excellent traffic connections between Central Europe and the Adriatic Sea due to its position in the central Pannonian Basin.
Zagreb consists of three parts; the ancient Gornji Grad containing many monuments, churches and cobbled streets, the Donji Grad district dating from the 19th century and featuring many theatres, cafés, shops, parks, and Novi Zagreb which emerged after WW II and is the modern part of the city featuring many high-rise buildings and of not much interest to tourists.
Zagreb is a city full of museums but there are other compelling attractions. People of Zagreb love the café culture. Sitting outside in street side cafés and watching people go by is a favorite pastime. There is always plenty of entertainment at night as well as parks and pretty countryside to explore.
Zagreb has a continental climate and experiences four separate seasons. Summers are sunny and hot, the temperatures frequently reach 30°C. Winters are cold and snowy, spring is warm and autumn is often foggy and rainy. July is the warmest, January the coldest and June is the wettest month.
January average temperature 0 deg Celsius, 53.3 mm rainfall February average temperature 0.5 deg Celsius, 45.7 mm rainfall March average temperature 5 deg Celsius, 58.4 mm rainfall April average temperature 10 deg Celsius, 63.5 mm rainfall May average temperature 15 deg Celsius, 83.8 mm rainfall June average temperature 18 deg Celsius, 101.6 mm rainfall July average temperature 20 deg Celsius, 86.4 mm rainfall August average temperature 19 deg Celsius, 91.4 mm rainfall September average temperature 15 deg Celsius, 81.3 mm rainfall October average temperature 10 deg Celsius, 68.6 mm rainfall November average temperature 5 deg Celsius, 83.8 mm rainfall December average temperature 0 deg Celsius, 63.5 mm rainfall
The tram system is very efficient, and is useful for reaching the inner city center. The services are frequent. Tickets must be bought in advance at kiosks found throughout the city and cost under 1 EUR. There are 4 tram services that operate during the night.
Zagreb has an extensive network of bus lines covering the area outside the city center. There are also 4 night services.
Trains are operated by Croatian Railways and connect the suburbs with the city center. Services run every 15 minutes and travel in an east/west direction. www.hznet.hr/iSite3/default.aspx
Taxis can be found throughout the city. The fares are quite high. Note that the prices raise by 20% at night, on Sundays, and holidays.
The Plitvice National Park is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Croatia, a marvelous natural gem and definitely worth a visit. Located half way between Zagreb and the coastal town of Zadar, the park covers an area of 300 square kilometers where 16 beautiful turquoise lakes are connected by a series of waterfalls. The tallest waterfall is 135 meters high. The park area was granted the UNESCO World Heritage status in 1979. Several recreational opportunities are available in the surrounding area: rafting and canoeing are available in the nearby rivers.
The Gothic castle dating from the 13 th century was turned into a museum, depicting life in the medieval times. The collection of items on display features artifacts from the 15 th to the 19 th centuries. The surrounding parkland is also a great place to unwind and relax. The castle is 82 km from Zagreb and can be reached by public transport.
Medvednica is a nature park located in close proximity to the city of Zagreb. The area offers several recreational opportunities including hiking and biking; there are over 15 biking trails. The highest peak is Sljeme and is 1,033m high. The summit offers a nice view of the area, and can also be reached by cable car. The park features several mountain huts providing hot meals and a respite from the climb. In the winter it is a ski slope.
The roof of this emblematic church is covered by brightly colored tiles, with coats of arms of Croatia, Dalmatia, Slavonia and the city of Zagreb. Added only in 19 th century, the origins of the church reach back to the 13 th century. Many changes have been made since its construction, but some original pieces still remain; such as the Romanesque window and the Gothic doorway. The door has several niches containing statues of the twelve apostles, Jesus, Mary, and St. Mark.
The museum building, itself a marvelous Baroque palace dating from the late 18 th century, is situated in the historical city center. Originally the residence of several baronial families the building later became official abode of Zagreb mayors. In 1930 it became the museum of the city’s historical relics. The collection comprises over 140,000 items ranging from ancient stone artifacts, to religious items, heraldry, to fine art and represents an important cultural and historical heritage of the Croatians.
CROATIAN NATIONAL THEATRE
Address: Trg Marsala Tita 15 Phone: (01) 482 8532
Croatian National Theater produces drama, music and ballet performances. The building itself is a national treasure. Its construction began in 1894. The ceiling of the auditorium was decorated by Vienese artist Alexander Goltz, and the ceremonial curtain was painted by the Croatian painter Vlaho Bukovac. The official opening of the theatre in 1895 was a grand event, as it was performed by the Austro-Hungarian emperor Franz-Joseph I.
Address: Roosveltov trg 5 Phone: 01 48 28 100 Open: daily: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, except Monday and Sunday closed; Thursday: 10:00 am – 2:00 pm
Zagreb is a city of museums, and Mimara is one of its most interesting. Housed in neo-Rennaissance building dating from 1883, the museum houses the private collection of art works donated by Ante Topić Mimara. The collection comprises 3,700 works of art, covering various periods and regions, dating from pre-history up to the 20 th century. Among the highlights are works by such masters as Raffaello, Caravaggio, Canaletto, Rembrandt, Van Goyen, Bosch, Rubens, Van Dyck, Velasquez, Murillo, Goya, Turner, Manet, Renoir, and Degas.
The park, named after its funder Maksimillian Vrhovec, was first open to the public in 1794. The park lies in the eastern part of the city. Park’s paths are surrounded by flowerbeds, meadows and bushes. The park is dotted with monuments, sculptures and several pavilions; the Swiss House, the Viewpoint, the Doorman hut and the Echo
Zagreb offers plenty culinary delights. The city’s cuisine is a mixture of the Northern and Southern Croatian cuisine, Adriatic cuisine, as well as Austrian, Hungarian and Ottoman influences.
There are also numerous international restaurants in the city so that anyone can find something to suit their taste.
Many Zagreb restaurants offer specialties such as turkey, duck or goose with ‘mlinci’-very thin dried bread prepared with hot water and meat sauce.
‘Štrukli’ is cottage cheese strudel cooked in boiling water, ‘sir i vrhnje’ is cottage cheese with cream, ‘orahnjača’ is a nut roll.
Zagreb is not far from the sea so there are also many fish and seafood dishes available.
The best budget meals can be bought at street stands. Burek (a cheese or meat pie) can be found anywhere. There are also numerous pizza places. Delicious pizzas at good prices can be found in Pizzicato (Gundilicevc 4).
The festival hosts international professional puppet theatre groups, as well as other puppeteers and theatricians. The festival has up to now drawn over 450 theatres from all around the globe. The event is suitable both for children and adults.
This is Europe’s second oldest animated film festival. The festival has proven to be a friendly gathering of filmmakers and fans of all generations. The program features retrospectives and an examination of recent production all over the world, both in a competitive and non-competitive program.
Additional program includes exhibitions, lectures and other events.
ZAGREB SUMMER EVENINGS
Date: mid July – mid August Location: various churches in city center Web: www.kdz.hr/
Classical music is performed by local and international orchestras in the churches located in Gornji Grad and Klovicevi Dvori.
FASNIK / CARNIVAL
Date: two weeks preceding Lent
Zagreb ’s carnival is celebrated with costumes, masks and revelry.
Zagreb has great nightlife. The clubbing is diverse and people are nice, and bars and clubs are open until late. There are also many bars and pubs in the old town, especially popular in the summer. Beer halls abound. Zagreb is home to Croatia’s oldest brewery.
The area of Jarun Lake harbors Zagreb’s hottest clubs and bars often hosting world’s finest DJs. The biggest mainstream dance club is Aquarius (http://wwww.aquarius.hr/) overlooking Lake Jarun. Salooon (Tuskanac 1a) is a chic, glamorous club where Croatian celebrities come to see and be seen.
Young people and those looking for underground culture prefer Tvornica (Subiceva 2; www.tvornica-kulture.hr/) and Mocvara (Trnjanski Nasip; www.mochvara.hr/). Both clubs are located in disused factories and offer underground culture, concerts, film screenings, parties and other happenings.
The city is also rich in high-class culture. There are about 20 permanent and seasonal theatres. The Croatian National Theatre (www.hnk.hr/) features a rich program of theatre, opera and ballet.
The Lisinski concert hall has two halls. The bigger one seats 1800 people and the smaller 300. The program features jazz and classical concerts as well as theatre performances. (www.lisinski.hr/)
The original settlement was established on the left bank of the Medvescak brook, atop the Kapitol Hill in 11 th century. In 1094 the Hungarian King Ladislaus founded the Zagreb diocese. Another settlement developed on the neighboring hill (today Gornji Grad), named Gradec. Both settlements were attacked by invading Tatars in 1242. Hungarian King Bely IV bestowed Gradec with Golden Bull, yielding the settlement own jurisdiction but imposing duty to the king. Gradec was fortified by a wall, towers and gates, while Kapitol remained under church jurisdiction, unprotected by a wall and with no special privileges.
In the following centuries the two towns developed a tense rivalry which often broke out in violence. The two towns were constantly at each other’s throats save for the three fairs yearly when they united to embrace the merchants bringing money to the area. In mid 15 th century the Turks made it as far as the Sava River, thus necessitating the fortification of Kapitol as well. By mid 16 th century much of the surrounding area was in Turkish hands but the two towns on the hills still resisted. In the 17 th century both towns fell into economical decline. To ensure a better chance of survival they merged to become Zagreb. After the mighty Turkish attack, few towns were still standing, and Zagreb emerged as the capital of the Croatian state. During the 17th and 18th centuries Zagreb was hit by several disasters. Plague and fires ravaged the city, the population dropped to 2800 individuals.
In the 19 th century Zagreb experienced a more intense economic, political and cultural development. The city’s connections with other markets opened with the new Vienna-Budapest railway. The Academy of Arts and Sciences, the University of Zagreb and the Music Institute opened, ushering in a new air of educational and cultural prosperity. In mid-19 th century the development of industry started. The main branches were machine-building, textile, food processing and printing.
MODERN (20 TH CENTURY)
On 29 October 1918 Croatia joined the common state of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs, and severed its public law relations with Austria-Hungary empire. In the period between the two world wars, Zagreb was a thriving industrial center and was expanding rapidly.
In 1939 Civil Croatia (Banovina Hrvatska) was established. Zagreb became its capital. In April 1941 Yugoslavia was invaded by Germans. During WW II the Independent State of Croatia was established, with Zagreb as its capital. During the war Zagreb was the center of anti-Nazi resistance. After the war Yugoslavia was formed and Zagreb had a secondary role, after Belgrade.
The communist government confiscated the existing companies and nationalized the economy which became stagnant. The increase of population in Zagreb after the war was also in large part due to massive influx from rural areas. After the mid-1950s new residential areas were constructed south of the Sava River, called Novi Zagreb, where cargo railway and airport Pleso were built as well. In 1987 Zagreb hosted the Universiade.
After the collapse of Yugoslavia Croatia declared independence, soon after Slovenia. A new Croatian institution was proclaimed in December 1990. In 1991 Zagreb was made the capital of the independent Croatia. The period following the independence was marked by much violence, although Zagreb was left largely unharmed by the aggression. The Croatian war of independence lasted from 1991 until 1995. Since 1995 Zagreb is quickly becoming a major Central European metropolis.
Croatians tend to be straightforward and appreciate if you are the same. Loud talking does not signify anger; people are usually animated and expressive when talking.
Avoid talking about the war, politics, at least until you establish a firmer relationship with a person. Croatians are very proud of their country, so political conversations should be tackled with care. Do not make comparisons between Serbians, Croatians and Bosnians.
Punctuality is not very strict. Being late 15 minutes is usually not seen as rude. In business setting, people are usually more punctual, but still, deadlines are often not met.
Taxes are mostly already included in the bill, so tipping is not necessary. A 10 to 15% tip is usually added if you have an excellent service or you are with a large group of people.
Croatia is now considered a safe country. There is the possibility of petty crime in busy tourist areas, so take the usual precautions when it comes to handling your valuables.
Visitors should be note that the war, which ended in 1995, left behind many unexploded land mines, especially in the Eastern Slavonia (the Danube Region), the former Krajina, Brodsko-Posavska county, Karlovac county, areas around Zadar, and areas around the Plitvice Lakes region. The affected areas are well marked with warning signs in Croatian but also have additional international symbols for mines. Travelers should practice caution, and at all cost stay away from these designated areas. Visitors are advised not to stray away from known safe roads, paths and areas.
Summers in Zagreb are hot and dry; temperatures frequently reach and exceed 30°C. Springtime is pleasantly warm although June is generally the rainiest month. Winters are cold and snow is common in winter months, from December to March. Autumn weather is characterized by rain and fog. The best time to visit is spring and late summer when the weather is the most comfortable.