Woolly says – Jumping down from the tram and finding a most impressive sculpture is always a good start to the day. There in front of me on his plinth stood Count Jelacic on his deadly steed with a sword so pointy and sharp that it could poke your eye out, not that I would be getting that close to the fighting end of it of course! The count's image has inspired a number of political outbursts, in 1947 it was dismantled and chucked into a corner somewhere because leaders found it overly representative of nationalism in the country until 1990 when it was brought it back into its current place, this time leaders believing it perfectly nationalistic. I just thought he was wonderful, leaving Jo with the camera I went off to start my investigations of Zagreb, the capital of Croatia.
Not only was the statue a good start to the day but the buildings surrounding it looked mighty fine as well. Having taken a few pictures I realised that I had lost sight of the fur ball, checking the bakery across the road, the ice cream parlour and the nearest café I started to worry about
the residents if the mammoth was on the loose! Hearing a small banging behind me I saw his paw thumping on the window of a small train.
Woolly says – a train ride round the city, what more could I ask for and it was FREE! As Jo and Zoe climbed aboard I ignored their evil glares and sat back to enjoy. The bumpy ride showed me so many places to visit and given that we were now based in Zagreb for the next month we’d be able to see them all! Arriving back in Jelacic Square and having checked the map I led the way to the cathedral. Founded in 1093 as St Stephens it has had more than it’s fair share of problems with fires, earthquakes and invasions. The main Gothic structure has remained the same even if it had been under reconstruction throughout the 20th century, the massive spires rose high above my head and as Jo pulled on a jacket to cover her shoulders I tried to wedge myself into the packed interior.
We had arrived during a service and there was literally no floor space let alone
an opportunity to look at the fine decoration. With Woolly puffing and trying to kick peoples ankles I suggested that we return later in the day.
Woolly says – I hate it when she makes a good point! Having admired the incredibly shiny Golden Statue of St Mary that faces the cathedral, I wondered if there was a way into the rather lovely towers that would have once been part of the Cathedrals complex. Trotting over it appeared that at least one would be as it now contained a small exhibition. The Museum of the Uncured Saints had opened in 1939 and was concerned with the conservation of religious relics, they seemed to be doing their job well and the lovely tower had been used to great affect to display the current exhibition, although sadly there was no information on the tower and it’s role. Having found myself back outside I consulted the map once more, Jo and I had a small surprize for Zoe.
As we wandered through the small streets and past the many cafes and restaurants we found statues galore and then a totally unexpected church hiding in a throughway.
Woolly says – it was most curious with its four rows of piers and Saint behind a grille, it felt most strange to watch as people passed through with there shopping bags as people where knelt in prayer. A further hundred metres on and we came to our surprise venue, it was a picture to see Zoe’s jaw hit the floor! Across the square was the delightful roof of St Mark’s Church. The 13th century church had it’s colourful tiled roof added in 1880, which shows the medieval coat of arms of Croatia, Dalmatia and Slavonia on the left side with the emblem of Zagreb on the right. It certainly has a wow factor, the Gothic doorway with its 15 figures in shallow niches, sculpted in the 14th century, were guarded by two uninformed officers with rather large swords, they didn’t look as though they would entertain me with there serious stares, which was a shame and having wandered round the rest of the lovely building Jo led us towards the Museum of Broken Relationships...... Hmmmm ‘WHY do we want to go to something like that?’ I asked, I was ignored.
to his disgust we paid and entered, the museum was founded by two Zagreb-based artists, Olinka Vištica a film producer and Dražen Grubišić a sculptor. After their four year relationship came to an end in 2003 the two joked about setting up a museum to house the left-over personal items. Three years later Grubišić contacted Vištica with this idea It was shown to the public for the first time in 2006.
Woolly says – Ok I’m a cynic it was actually quite interesting and not a morbid as I had imagined. With items and short stories displayed, many of the exhibits gave me a feeling of hope for the future, not your typical museum but defiantly something different, as I waited for the girls to finish I sat contemplating a wind up rabbit that was meant to travel the world but only got as far as Iran before the relationship fell apart, even when Jo annoys me most I still get to travel with her so it’s not all bad!
It was quite a uplifting experience and as we passed the Zagreb Astronomical Observatory which had been founded in 1903 we decided to give
that a miss for today and concentrate on food instead.
Woolly says – the steps leading back towards the main square gave us some lovely views across the city and as we passed the Torture Museum I looked hopefully at Jo who nodded but pointed at a menu first. As we sat in the shade attempting to finish our humongous portions of pasta our discussion centred on how much we were loving the city so far. It might be a capital and it might have quite a few tourists to contend with but everywhere we had been so far had been pedestrianised, fascinating and beautiful....I’m loving it, loving it, loving it!
Having given up on the worlds pasta mountain we retraced our steps to the Museum of Torture.
Woolly says – It was very dark and very scary with wails and screams punctuating the air, I clung onto Jo as we passed guillotines, instruments of torture and a huge box with spikes in, finding ourselves in a dark cell with water running down the walls and the chill factor in the minus temperatures I decided it was time to go....authentic is
one think frightening my bandana off me is another!
It was very atmospheric and certainly made you shiver, with our legs growing tired we followed our small friend back through the main market area and into the cathedral to see if we might be able to look around.
Woolly says – Inside was fairly empty, well except for the hundred or so tourists but we were at least able to appreciate the wonders of the baroque marble altars, statues, pulpit and the lovely star covered ceiling before finding ourselves in front of the tomb of Cardinal Alojzije Stepinac. Aloysius Viktor Stepinac was a Croatian Catholic cardinal and Archbishop of Zagreb from 1937 to 1960. In 1998 he was declared a martyr and beatified by Pope John Paul II and his tomb lies behind the alter for all to view, he looked pretty good for a corpse! Having found a pew to rest my paws I sat admiring the stained glass windows and everything else we had seen, day one in Zagreb had been brilliant, I wonder what’s to come next!
'We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us'
A truly multi-national mammoth that travels the world visiting places of interest, making new friends and causing mischief wherever he can. With my carer Jo (bless her!) I have scaled castle walls, walked in the footsteps of Roman Emperors and Maharajah's, climbed mountains, contemplated caverns, caves and canyons and attempted the Le Mans 24 hour race on a skateboard! Whether it be climbing a Minaret in Mostar, Paddling in the Arabian Sea, Scaling mountains in Kotor, Feeding chickens in France or Catching trains in India, not... full info
The lands that today comprise Croatia were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until the close of World War I. In 1918, the Croats, Serbs, and Slovenes formed a kingdom known after 1929 as Yugoslavia. Following World War II, Yugoslavia became a feder...more history