Zagreb

Zagreb by CC user miroslav-vajdic on Flickr

Introduction

While much of the action in Croatia is focused along its immensely beautiful island studded coast or in world class national parks like Plitvice Lakes, the capital Zagreb offers enough charm and sights to make a stay of two to three days well worth your while.

From a cathedral that dominates the skyline, to a museum that memorialized shattered relationships, your time in Croatia’s central city will be an interesting one.

Zagreb Cathedral by CC user dariozadro on Flickr

Cultural Experiences

If you enjoy the idea of art, but are jaded by the pretentiousness of high art in the present day, then a visit to the Croatian Museum of Naïve Art should be made by you during your time in Zagreb. This institution covers some of the best works of creative expression in a niche that gets its name from the child-like and simplistic nature of its forms (given that the description for this niche was probably granted by aforementioned art snobs, we understand your consternation of these folks).

The uncomplicated nature of these portraits makes it the perfect place for those just beginning to explore the art world to begin, as these pieces are easy to grasp, and you needn’t worry about getting mocked by those that are deeply embedded in the local creative scene.

Those looking for more churches to check off their lists will want to find their way to Zagreb Cathedral, as not only is it the most significant house of worship in the city, but it is also the tallest building in Croatia, as hard to believe as that might be.

Rebuilt after being demolished by invading Tartars in the 13th century, the Zagreb has gone on to survive wars and a major earthquake. With towering spires that can be seen throughout town and a relief inside honoring Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac, whose actions lived the lives of many local Jews during the Nazi occupation of what is now Croatia.

Want to see the performing arts at its finest while traveling through the Balkans? The Croatian National Theatre is great option for this, as not only do local opera and ballet companies put on world class productions, the size of of the auditorium was designed to fit only 850 spectators, allowing for an intimate atmosphere that is hard to find in stage venues in the present age. The other side of coin is that seats are often hard to come by, so be sure to reserve yours well in advance in order to avoid disappointment.

Mirogoj Cemetery by CC user miroslav-vajdic on Flickr

Other Attractions

It may seem strange that we would recommend the final resting place of the dear departed of Zagreb’s past as a tourist attraction, but the architecture of Mirogoj Cemetery, as well as its inclusiveness (graves of Jews, Christians and Muslims sit side by side in a strangely uplifting show of post-mortem unity) draw in many inquisitive travelers on a yearly basis.

Apart from the individual graves, sweeping arcades with dramatic arches and memorials for war heroes, unknown soldiers, and notable Croatian citizens can all be found here, each with astonishingly beautiful touches that give all of them the respect they all deserve.

One of Europe’s most interesting museums can be found in Zagreb, as the Museum of Broken Relationships profiles all the ways love interests have drifted apart or violently severed ties over the years. From photos of a life that once was, to an axe that was used to exact revenge on a dishonest lover’s living room furniture, the stories that this place’s inanimate objects tell will make for a couple of hours of reflection and entertainment unlike any that you have had in a long while.

When it comes time to wind down your day in Zagreb, dine, drink and relax on Tkalčićeva Street, which is this city’s locus of entertainment and socializing. Whether you are looking to have a casual pizza dinner with friends, a fine five course dinner with your partner, or an all-night pub crawl that progresses it way to the hottest nightclubs in town, Tkalčićeva Street is the place where’s you’ll want to go.

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