Edit Blog Post
Published: August 21st 2013
Zagreb was pencilled for our next visit, although campsites were few and far between once we left the coast, we were lucky enough to find a really lovely site near a little village called Duga Resa, not far from Karlovac and the staff there had confirmed that we could reach the capital by train.
Duga Resa is situated on a lovely clear river: Mreznica, who’s water reaches temperatures of around 26 degrees (there were plenty of people splashing about in the water or lazing on the shady banks when we arrived on a hot public holiday weekend!), the surrounding area is quite flat in comparison to many other parts of the country and as it’s very near to the Slovenian border the houses have that distinctive ‘Alpine’ look that I love! The fields and gardens were full of plum and apple trees, tall corn plants, tomatoes and peppers and everything looked green and well cared for.
For the train to Zagreb we walked about 500 metres from our campsite and stood trackside, on nothing more than a step, to wait for the train. There was no station building, waiting room or anywhere to buy tickets (you buy your ticket
from the conductor on the train) so we stood in the blazing sun but there was a ‘UK style’ yellow line painted along the step which made me giggle as there was not another soul for miles around and at home the lines are to keep the hordes that cram on to the platform from going too near the edge. The train was an old fashioned style with a corridor that ran the length of the carriage, with doors to little compartments leading from it, there were no sliding train doors here to let you on and off, just heavy slam doors with very tricky handles! There was also absolutely no air conditioning and the journey was around an hour and 15 minutes so we were cooking by the time we arrived at our destination!
The city is divided in to two parts: The Upper Town (Gornji Grad), the older part which proudly displays the cathedral and The Lower Town (Donji Grad) between the Upper Town and the train station. As we exited from the train station in the Lower Town we were confronted with the sight of the beautiful Art Pavilion, a building which has stood for over
100 years, warm yellow painted facade, a flight of wide white steps leading up to the main entrance and a centrally positioned oval shaped glass domed roof. Close by there is also the classically designed Hotel Esplanade which was built in 1925 to provide privileged passengers of the Orient Express top class accommodation (the train ran from Paris to Istanbul and Zagreb was one of its stops). We sat in the park outside and ate lovely, greasy apple pastries, fresh from the oven in a station kiosk, before setting off on a walk around the city.
Our walk took us up past the Art Pavilion to the Upper Town and its cathedral. The cathedral is an elegant building with two tall towers at the entrance that reach 105 metres in to the sky, the building that is there today was mostly built in the late 19th
century after a massive earthquake damaged the original one, there are defence walls and round towers on each corner which were built in the 1500’s when Zagreb was at threat of attack from Ottoman Turks. A fountain stands outside the cathedral with almost eye-wateringly shiny gold statues of the Virgin Mary, at the
very top of the column, and four angels around its base. We got lost a while, as usual, in a quiet green park behind the cathedral before heading back towards the famous Dolac street market, every kind of local food is sold here with vendors travelling in from all over the country to set up stall. Due to recent consumption of large amounts of apple pastry, we didn’t stop to purchase anything. So, instead (ok, there was a short stop for a beer, it was a very hot day!) onwards to St Mark’s Square (Trg svetog Marka) where the 13th
century church of St Mark stopped us in our tracks! Although the church is century’s old a lot of rebuilding took place at the end of the 1800’s and it’s retained its original shape, the most unusual feature is its coloured tiled roof, the whole expanse of the roof is covered in the bright tiles, arranged in the middle to depict coats of arms! It’s so colourful it’s almost like looking at a huge Lego build! The square also boasts the grand Governors palaces, the seat of Croatian Government (or ‘Sabor’) since 1737, although the current building is much more
Dragging our eyes (and camera lens) away from the church roof and turning to head down the street opposite, we noticed, slung on cables across the top of the houses, old fashioned gas lights. These are still used today: two lamplighters do the rounds every day at sunset to light around 200 gas lights still in use in this area and around the cathedral.
Zagreb is the home of many unusual museums: archaeological, arts and crafts, technical and more but the most bizarre museum I’ve ever visited has to be the Museum of Broken Relationships! This started life as a travelling exhibition, displaying items, donated by people from all over the world that had meaning from a previous relationship, the collection is now permanent in Zagreb. There’s the obvious: wedding dresses and smashed mirrors; the quirky: a garden gnome bought on ‘divorce day’; the insulting: a pair of fake breasts that a woman’s husband presented her with to ‘wear during sex as they were bigger’ than her own and all manner of other items even an axe that was used to chop us an ex’s furniture! Some of it made us laugh, some of it made us
a bit depressed but a few of the items were really moving. There was a little letter written by a 13-year-old boy to a girl he exchanged glances with while their families were escaping Sarajevo in 1992. As their vehicles were allowed passage out of the country he never saw her again.
Zagreb is a delight whatever you look for in a city, there is a wealth of art galleries and museums, there are department stores, busy cafes and the huge outdoor market, or quiet green parks and outdoor spaces. Put it on your list of places to visit!
Tot: 2.375s; Tpl: 0.055s; cc: 14; qc: 57; dbt: 0.0474s; 2; m:saturn w:www (126.96.36.199); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb