On arrival in Zagreb, we had about 3 hours before dinner so went for a walk around the area near our hotel.
We were upgraded again in this hotel as they had booked us into a room with a double bed on the 7th floor. The only twin room was on the 5th floor and when we entered the lift we saw that, written next to the button for the 5th floor was, “Distinguished guests”. We felt pretty good and have to admit that this was one of the best hotels we stayed in.
As we made our way into the street we saw a sign pointing to the train station and decided to walk there so that we would know the route. As we had done in 2010 we had purchased a Eurail Pass for the 10 days we would be travelling on our way to Frankfurt from where we would fly home. Our train from Zagreb to Budapest was scheduled for 09:30 2 days later. We found the station after about half an hour and were disappointed with the time it took to get there and the rather bumpy pavements as we would be pulling our luggage along. But there was good news at dinner.
A grafitti covered wall opposite our hotel
A tram we saw going toward the station
The Farewell Dinner for the tour was held on this 2nd last evening as some folk were leaving the next morning and so forfeiting the tour of Zagreb. Dinner was in the hotel dining room and Juan checked on departure times for those of us who were leaving the day after the tour. When originally booking the tour the information was that those needing to get to the airport, on the final day only, would be transported there so we thought that we would have to make our own way to the railway station. When Juan asked us about our departure time he said that we would be transported to the station. What a relief and very good news.
The final day in Zagreb was a tour of the city. First we were driven around the main areas of the new city also known as Low Town, for about 30 minutes. Our guide described and gave the history of a number of buildings. The variety of architecture and colours of the buildings gave Zagreb a very different feel from the other places we had visited in the past week.
Croatian Parliament building
The building with the most interesting history was the Meštrović Pavilion, the official seat of the Croatian Association of Artists. It was designed by Ivan Meštrović, a highly respected artist and sculptor and built in 1938. It is circular in shape and was first an art gallery but, after WW2, it was converted into a mosque under the Independent State of Croatia. When the country was once again independent of Socialist Yugoslavia it became the Museum of the Revolution. It was finally returned to the Association of Artists in 2006. I always find it fascinating how buildings can be used for such a diversity of purposes and yet the original architecture retained
From there were taken to “Top Town” or the Old Town. It was easy to see why it is known as Top Town as one walks up a long but gentle hill to the centre of the town and from there the view over Zagreb is spectacular. As we made our way up the hill we saw some beautiful and very interesting buildings and decorations. One of these was a nunnery from the 16th Century and there were painted “windows” on the walls facing the street. This was for modesty – people could not look in on the residents!
The hill up to “Top Town”. On the left is the Nunnery wih the shuttered windows
Ascending the hill was well worthwhile as it opened out into a large paved square with St Mark’s Church in the centre. The roof is decorated in the colours of the Croatian flag and on one side of the roof are designs of the flags of both Zagreb & Croatia. Also in this square was the local parliament building – simple but with stature, original gas lamps which are still lit each night and a small market for local sweets. On one corner stood a young lady, with a beautiful smile, with a basket of sweets which she was selling.
The beautiful roof of St Mark’s Church
Croatian confectionary. Not how it is all red and white, the national colour
As we looked down on a different part of the city we could see a large market square and an array of buildings which were a real mixture of old and new. There was a funicular which people could use to travel up and down between the 2 parts of town but our guide took us down to the market by another gentle downward slope passing the statue of St George with a slain dragon and other interesting statues and then through Stone Gate, an original city gate.
Looking down from the “Top Town” to see the funicular appearing through the tunnel
Entrance to grotto at The Stone Gate
St George with the slain dragon
Man with a snake
On the way to the market we passed the Cathedral which is the highest building in Croatia and the most monumental sacred building in the Gothic style SE of the Alps. The towers were damaged in an earthquake in 1880 and even though they were repaired over 26 years they are now still felt to be not constructionally sound and are once again being repaired. We also had the privilege of seeing a group of traditional dancers outside the cathedral.
Cathedral entrance with beautiful carving surround
Remains of the Cathedral original Spires
Holy Mary Monument in front of the Cathedral
The market was bustling and all the umbrellas and decorations were in the Croatian colours of red and white. There was a lovely statue of a peasant woman bringing her goods to the market. She was named Kumica Barica when the statue was unveiled in 2000.
Umbrellas in the market square
Statue of Kumica Barica
On bidding us farewell, our guide told us of some of the escapades she and friends had on the local trams as young adults. When they had no cash they would board a tram through the rear door and remain on board until they came to a stop where they saw an inspector and quickly hopped off and waited for the next one. She advised us against this as one has to really know the tricks of the system.
Our guide giving us info on the market
We walked around the market and then made our way along the main road back to the hotel. On the way we watched a race, held annually, run by ladies in high heels. This street too was lined with a number of statues of struggle heroes, literary figures and others as well as walls and bus stops decorated with graffiti.
Statue of Andriji Kacicu
Statue of Petrica Kemperuh, Croatian Jester