We visited in April, just after Easter, and found a charming and vibrant city, most welcoming to tourists. Everything is accessible on foot but be warned that it’s a hilly city. Check out the AlphaLuxe walking tour in ‘Lazing Spring Time in Zagreb part 1.
Lets move on…..
Nikola Tesla – inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist – has 128 streets in Croatia named after him; it is the 8th most common street name in the country. There is a Nikola Tesla Power House, Nikola Tesla Technical School and Nikola Tesla Technical Museum in Zagreb. You can visit the museum every day except Mondays.
Ironically, the Rimac Concept_One designed and manufactured in Croatia by Rimac Automobili beat the Tesla EV. With a total output of 800 kW (1,073 hp), an acceleration of 0–97 km/h (0–60 mph) in 2.8 seconds, and $1,000,000 price tag, it is the world’s first electric SUPERCAR.
Ban Jelačić Square
For Zagrebians, it all starts at Ban Jelačić Place or Square. Northwest of the square is a flight of stairs towards Dolac Market.
Dolac is the best known farmer’s market in Zagreb. With traditional open market stalls and a sheltered market below, it has been trading since 1926. The covered market downstairs holds butchers, fishmongers and little old ladies (some not so little) selling the local speciality “sir i vrhnje” (cottage cheese and sour cream).
Flowers and lace are also featured. Ribarnica – a fish market next door – sells fresh produce every day except Monday because there is no fishing on Sunday.
Tkalčićeva Street (Ul. Tkalčićeva) and Radićeva Street (Ul. Radićeva)
Tkalčićeva Street runs from Dolac Market to Medvescak Street and is named after a creek that ran through Tkalciceva. Many battles between the two old towns of Kaptol and Gradec took place here, giving its bridge the sinister name – Krvavi most (Bloody Bridge). The Bloody Bridge was replaced with a short street connecting Tkalčićeva and Radićeva streets but kept its name. This area is full of bars, cafes, restaurants and quirky shops.
The first residents of the street were workers and servants of priests from Kaptol and members of the gentry from Gradec. As time passed, Tkalčićeva Street filled with small crafts shops and brothels, both regulated by city codes. It was required that brothels hung red lanterns outside, thus making it the first “red light district” in Southern Europe. After the Second World War, craftsmen moved to the expanding suburbs and brothels were closed.
The most recent rejuvenation was in mid-2000s when bars gave way to returning small craft shops, art galleries and restaurants. The most famous landmarks are the sun clock and a statue of Marija Jurić Zagorka, the first Croatian female journalist.
A lesser known statue is mid-way down the street; a harlot leaning on her window, inviting passers-by to explore the nocturnal history of Tkalciceva Street….
St. Mary’s Church at Dolac (Sveta Marija na Dolcu)
As you walk South on Tkalčićeva Street towards Ban Jelačić Square, you can see the clock tower of St. Mary’s Church as a landmark.
In the Baroque style of the 16th century on the site of an older 13th century church, St. Mary’s Church is next to Dolac Market.
In 1886, it was renovated with Gothic influences.
Church of St. Mark’s (Crkva sv. Marka)
Uphill from the shopping area and off Radićeva Street (Ul. Radićeva), you climb to approach St. Mark’s Square.
The Church of St. Mark (Crkva sv. Marka) is the parish church of old Zagreb, located in St. Mark’s Square. Around the square are important buildings of the Gradec (Upper Town) like Banski dvori (seat of the Government of Croatia), Hrvatski sabor (Croatian Parliament), Constitutional Court of Croatia and the Stara gradska vijećnica (Old City Hall).
Museum of Broken Relationships (Ćirilometodska Street)
Walking away from St Mark’s Church and down Ćirilometodska Street, brings you to the Museum of Broken Relationships in the beautiful baroque Kulmer Palace.
Whatever your status, you cannot help being affected by the exhibits and the human stories behind them. Some of the stories are from the break up of Yugoslavia and the civil wars that followed.
There are also stories from break-ups from all corners of the world….
Padlocks in Zagreb
Walking further down the hill, you find a panoramic viewing point at Strossmayerovo šetalište, 10000, Zagreb. As you climb down from the Upper Town back towards Ban Jelačić Square, you see padlocks on every available railing denoting promises of everlasting “unbroken” relationships. They are found in many locations in Old Town; anywhere with railings!
There is also a view of St. Mary’s Church and the twin towers of Zagreb Cathedral. Note that one of the towers is under refurbishment but the surrounding hoarding makes a pretty good representation.
Blue Whale Mural Anamorphosis by Etien
At the same spot, you see a huge blue whale mural on an abandoned building. The mural is by a French artist called Etien, known for his anamorphosis-artworks. The fact the city authorities allowed a giant mural in the historic city centre, makes the locals really happy.
Back to the Beginning
We end our tour back at the main railway station Glavni Kolodvor.
Zagreb is one of the most dynamic “new” old cities in the world with young people and the young-at-heart striving to rebuild their nation after Communism and also joining the EU.
The people are hardworking and welcoming: work hard and play hard. The cuisine is rich with history of the Venetian, Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman empires but relatively inexpensive for the tourist.
AlphaLuxe Two Thumbs Up!
AlphaLuxe articles about Zagreb:
Author’s Biography: Melvyn Teillol-Foo (MTF)
Dr Melvyn Teillol-Foo is a contributor on AlphaLuxe web-zine.
He is also a moderator on PuristSPro.com horology discussion fora. He blends his scientific medical objectivity from the pharmaceutical industry with purist passion, in his musings about watches, travel, wine, food and other epicurean delights.
His travelogue ‘Lazing’ and feasting ‘Grazing’ series of articles have now passed into “mythic legend” on the original ‘ThePuristS.com’ website. Those were the halcyon days when he was “rich and famous” that he remembers with bittersweet fondness.
Dr Teillol-Foo is a quoted enthusiast on the watch industry, appearing in feature articles and interviews by Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, Sunday Times (London), Chronos (Japan), Citizen Hedonist (France) and other publications. He has authored articles for magazines like International Watch (iW) – both U.S. & Chinese editions, ICON (Singapore), August Man (Singapore), Comfort (China) and The Watch (Hong Kong).