Zagreb is the capital and the largest city of Croatia. Zagreb is the cultural, scientific, cinematic, economic and governmental center of the Republic of Croatia. According to the city government, the population of Zagreb in 2008 was 699,200 (approx. 1.1 million in the metropolitan area). It is situated between the southern slopes of the Medvednica mountain and both northern and southern bank of the Sava river at an elevation of approximately 122 m (400 ft) above sea level.
Its favorable geographic position in the southwestern part of the Pannonian Basin, which extends to the Alpine, Dinaric, Adriatic and Pannonic regions, provides an excellent connection for traffic between Central Europe and the Adriatic Sea.
The transport connections, concentration of industry, scientific and research institutions and industrial tradition underlie its leading economic position in Croatia. Zagreb is the seat of the central government, administrative bodies and almost all government ministries.
Marija Bistrica, in Zagorje, is the site of one of the largest pilgrimages in Croatia. The Marija Bistrica Church (Hodocasnicka Crkva Marije Bistricvke), also known as the Sanctuary of St Mary of the Snow (Sv Marija Snjezna) is home to a 16th Century, Gothic wooden statue known as the Black Madonna with Child. The story of the statue dates back
Marija Bistrica is on the northern slope of Mt Medvednica, just a short drive from Zagreb.
Medvedgrad is a medieval town on the southern part of Mt Medvednica, on the western edge of Zagreb. The fortress was built in the middle of the 13th Century at the request of bishops Philip and Timothy of Zagreb and served to protect against Tartar invasions. Medvegrad was owned by a number of feudal lords but was hit by an earthquake in the
The beautiful Mirogoj Cemetery is located just a short drive north of Zagreb city center and is worth the trip. The cemetery was designed by Hermann Bollé, an architect who also designed many buildings in Zagreb. It was built in 1876 at the base of Mount Medvednica, and is still one of the most beautiful cemeteries in all of Europe.
Approaching from the outside the cemetery looks like a fortress, with huge vine covered walls and a grand entrance which leads to the chapels and the Neo-Renaissance arcades, where the tombs of the most prominent families are found. The Mirogoj Cemetery is almost 7 acres with green space, trees, sculptures and ornate monuments.
Buried here are some of the most famous Croatians,
(Local Name: Parliament) The Croatian Sabor runs along the east side of Markov Trg. This Neo-Classical style building was constructed in 1908 and has been the site of many historical events over the past century. In 1918 the secession of Croatia from the Austro-Hungarian Empire was announced from the balcony of the Sabor. In 1991 the decision was made at the Sabor to cut ties with the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and become and independent nation. Later that same year the Parliament was hit by a bomb. This parliament building is still the center of Croatian politics.
Although the Croatian Sabor has an interesting history, the building itself pales in comparison to much of the architecture in
(Local Name: Kamenita Vrata) The Stone Gate (Kamenita Vrata) in Zagreb's Gornji Grad is the last remaining of the five gates which once stood. They were the entrances through the walls around Gradec, the district next to Kaptol. The Stone Gate, which was the eastern Gate to Gradec town, was built in the 13th Century, as was the adjacent tower. As the story goes, in 1731 a fire destroyed much of this area, burning all the houses to the ground. The gate displayed a painting of Mary and Jesus which was "miraculously" undamaged by the fire. To protect the painting a chapel was built and the painting remains behind a metal grille. The painting is visited regularly by people who come to pray and leave gifts.
(Local Name: Etnografski Muzej) The Ethnographic Museum (Etnografski Muzej) is one of the best of its kind in Croatia and definitely worth a stop while in Zagreb. The extensive collection shows the cultural history of Croatia with exhibits of ceramics, jewelry, gold, musical instruments, textiles, tools, weapons and elaborate costumes. The traditional folk costumes are worth the visit, with various colors and styles illustrating the regional diversity throughout Croatia. Note the lace from the island of Pag, and the gold embroidery in the scarves from Slovenia.
There is also a section with displays from South America, Africa, Japan, and the South Pacific, donated by Croatians who have traveled to these
Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
(Local Name: Katedrala Marijina Uznesenja) The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary was formerly known as St Stephen's Cathedral. The twin Spires of the Cathedral are a landmark feature of Zagreb and the most famous structure in Zagreb. A cathedral has stood on this spot for hundreds of years. The first cathedral built here was destroyed by the Tartar invasion in the 13th century. The current structure was built in the later half of the 13th Century, although many alterations and renovations have been made since that time, changing the structure almost completely. Most recently, the earthquake of 1880 destroyed large sections of the Cathedral, including the dome and the bell tower.The
The Cathedral Treasury contains fine works of religious art, garments, and objects.
Andautonia Archaeological Park
Near the village of Scitarjevo, close to Zagreb, are the remains of the ancient Roman town of Andautonia, which have been excavated and provide a fascinating tourist attraction. Andautonia was a prominent administrative, economic, cultural and religious center about 400 years ago. Archaeologists are still excavating the site, but visitors can view a 26,910 square foot (2,500 sq m) area of the Roman City including parts of the main street, city baths, colonnades and side streets. Tourists can also visit the present-day village of Scitarjevo, which offers examples of typical rural farms with their characteristic wooden houses.
Croatian History Museum
The building that houses Croatia's history is itself a part of that history. Sited in the historical town center, it is the beautiful Baroque palace, Vojkovic-Orsic-Rauch, built at the end of the 18th century and formerly the private residence of three successive baronial families. In the late 1930s the palace became the residence of Zagreb's mayors, before being designated as a repository for the historical relics of the city. It currently houses more than 140,000 artifacts in various collections, from stone monuments to fine art, religious artifacts to heraldry. The exhibitions are not permanent but constantly changing so that all the collections get an airing.
Croatian National Theater
The building housing the Croatian National Theater is as much a national treasure as the world-class dramatic, opera, music and ballet productions that take place on its stage. Construction began on the theater building in 1894. Croatian painter Vlaho Bukovac painted the ceremonial curtain while Viennese artist Alexander Goltz decorated the ceiling of the auditorium. The building was officially opened by Austro-Hungarian emperor Franz-Joseph I at the end of 1895. The theater is constantly busy with full performing arts programs.
Praska Street in the lower part of old Zagreb leads on to a sequence of attractive park squares, each flaunting their own attractions and worth a walking tour. Zrinski Square features a music pavilion dating from 1895 and fountains, with the Archaeological Museum at No.17. This square also features a row of busts of distinguished Croatians and the palace of the Croatian Academy of Arts and Sciences (1876), which houses the Strossmayer Gallery of old masters. On Strossmayer Square is a monument to bishop Josip Juraj Strossmayer, founder of the Academy, and several other historic buildings. Tomislav Square features the Art Pavilion, fronted by a monument to Croatian Renaissance painter Andrija Medulic. King Tomislav rises on horseback at the southern end of the square. Starcevic Square is home to the City Library and Hotel Esplanade, and gives access to the Botanical Gardens and Frane Bulic monument. In Marulic Square the University Library building stands as a magnificent example of Art Nouveau. Mimara Museum is on Roosevelt Square, and the neo-Baroque Croatian National Theater stands on Marshal Tito Square.
Trakoscan is a legendary 13th-century Gothic castle that was home to various influential families for centuries before finally falling into abandoned disrepair in the second half of the 18th century when it belonged to the Draskovic family. In the 1950s the castle was taken over by the state and turned into a living museum, reconstructing life in a medieval castle. Visitors can explore four levels, including the dungeon, and finish their exploration by enjoying the surrounding parklands.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
The Plitvice Lakes have been declared a world heritage site and it is the natural beauty of the 16 green and turquoise lakes linked by waterfalls and surrounded by forests and bush that attracts thousands of visitors every year. Wooden walkways meander over, around and across the watery setting that was formed by mineral deposits in the water creating travertine barriers within the constantly changing limestone landscape. The lakes are divided into lower and upper lakes and trails are well marked. Visitors can cover the 11 miles (18km) of walkways on foot, but the park entry ticket also includes the use of buses and ferries to cover certain sections.
Public transportation in the city is organized in two layers: the inner parts of the city are mostly covered by trams and the outer suburbs are linked with buses. The public transportation company, ZET (Zagrebački električni tramvaj, Zagreb Electric Tram), operating trams, all inner bus lines, and the most of the suburban lines, is subsidized by the city council.
The funicular in the historic part of the city is a tourist attraction. Taxis are readily available with the prices somewhat higher than in other cities of the region.
As of 1992, the state rail operator HŽ (Hrvatske željeznice, Croatian Railways) has been developing a network of suburban trains in metropolitan Zagreb area.
Zagreb has an extensive tram network with 15 day and 4 night lines covering much of the inner- and middle-suburbs of the city. The first tram line was opened on September 5, 1891 and trams have been serving as a vital component of Zagreb mass transit ever since. Trams usually travel at speeds of 25–50 km/h (15-31 mph), but slow considerably during rush hour. The network is unique as it operates mostly at the curb.
An ambitious program is currently underway to replace old trams with the new and modern ones built mostly in Zagreb by companies Končar elektroindustrija and, to a lesser extent, by TŽV Gredelj. Dubbed "TMK 2200", 70 trams have been delivered in 2005–2007 period, and delivery of additional 70 trams is contracted and already started.
Suburban rail network
In 2005, suburban rail services were increased to a 15-minute frequency serving the middle and outer suburbs of Zagreb, primarily in the east-west direction and to the southern districts. This has enhanced commuting opportunity.
A new link to the nearby town of Samobor has been announced and is due to start construction in 2009. This link will be standard-gauge and tie in with normal Croatian Railways operations (the previous narrow-gauge line to Samobor was closed in the 1970s).
Zagreb Airport , known as 'Pleso Airport' is the main Croatian international airport, a 20 km (12 mi) drive southeast of Zagreb in the suburb of Pleso. The airport is also the main Croatian airbase featuring helicopters, as well as military and freight transport aircraft. New terminal is planned for 2011 to replace the current inadequate building, with construction commencing in 2008.
Zagreb also has a second, smaller airport, It is home to sports airplanes and a Croatian special police unit, as well as being a military helicopter airbase. Lučko used to be the main airport of Zagreb from 1947 to 1959.
A third, small grass airfield, Buševec, is located just outside Velika Gorica. It is primarily used for sports purposes.