I’ve come across some travel blogs telling people to skip Zagreb which BOGGLES MY MIND. One person even said it lacked History… sorry, what?
Where we stayed
We stayed at Leon’s parents cute little apartment just outside of the old town and drove into the old city center. side note – There are blue and white and yellow lined parking spots on the street, only park within the white lines with the big ‘P’ sign above – yes I know this because we got a parking ticket.
What we Did
We got the heck out of the new city (yes, yes it’s not very pretty – i can agree with that), parked, and then walked to the breathtaking Zagreb Cathedral of Assumption. Remember, like most churches, if you want to be able to step inside, you must have something to cover your shoulders. Me being “scantily” clad, I could only poke my head in.
A 10 minutes walk away from the Cathedral you will find Strossmayer Promenade. Here you get great views of the multicoloured rooftops of the Old Town (also known as Gornji Grad). The surrounding area is adorable too; we even happened upon a interesting festival while we were soaking in the scenery.
Also located in Upper Town is the unique St. Mark’s Church. This church is distinctive because of it’s vibrantly colored tile roof which bears the coats of arms of Croatia, Dalmatia, Slavonia, and Zagreb. This area is the oldest in the city and possesses countless stunning historic buildings and museums.
I had an extremely interesting experience while walking to our dinner spot in the center of the city. Before I explain, a little history – Back in 1731, legend has it that all of the houses and surrounding area around the eastern wooden gate, Kamenita Vrata or also known as Stone Gate, were burnt to the ground. However Stone Gate, which was embedded with a painting of Jesus and Mary inexplicably remained untouched. Today you can find the painting in a shrine, protected by a metal enclosure.
Unbeknownst to us at the time, around dusk people gather in and around the tunnel to light candles and pray. We’re talking hundreds of people crammed around this tunnel. I was very inclined to find a way around, BUT, nothing gets in the way of Leon and his dinner so he grabbed my hand and we started walking down tiny center isle. The sea of people split down the middle as we slowly made our way through the crowd and I could feel everyone’s gaze on us as they loudly chanted their prayers.
This all lasted for about 2 minutes (felt like an eternity) and I definitely felt like I was about to be sacrificed.
We came back later to take a look at the religious site and noticed the dozens of marble bricks surrounding the shrine. The small bricks generally say “Thank you Mother”.
Not too far from the Stone Gate is the pedestrian-only Tkalciceva Street. This is a must see in Zagreb. Not only is this street full of history and beauty as you will find old houses that are now turned into cafés; Tkalciceva Street is quite lively at night because of the bars and restaurants with outdoor seating. This long street screams people watching potential and is probably so popular because of it. Croatians love to see and be seen.
We settled on a cozy spot on the patio of Pivnica Mali Medo to have some Istrian beer. Their lager was very large, very tasty and reasonably priced.
Going along with our ever prevalent patio theme, we ate dinner on the terrace at Restaurant Agava located on Tkalciceva Street. I suggest making a reservation if you are planning on dining during the weekend because this spot was very busy. To eat, we opted to share a salad and the entrée chicken (which was phenomenal). Dinner was scrumptious and the venue is extremely romantic (if you’re looking to go on a hot date).
All in all I really enjoyed Zagreb. Don’t skip it, visit and form your own opinion about it (and learn about the history)!