For far too long, Zagreb, the Croatian capital, has sat in the shadows quietly drawing travelers in contrast to its more out-front Balkan neighbors. Today, the story seems to be changing. Zagreb has burst out of its shyness. How many cities can boast a plaque to a man immortalized for walking his city naked while proclaiming his love for it? Or a museum dedicated to the demise of relationships? Along with these quirks and many others, Zagreb beckons the traditional visitors to enjoy its Baroque architecture, captivating history, thriving culture, innovating food scene, and just enough quirkiness. It all comes together to make Zagreb a year round hot spot for everyone.History and Architecture
The remnants of history extend beyond the city proper with Medvedgrad being a popular spot for the traveler to hike, learn and relax. The former settlement dates back to the 13th century before being destroyed by Mongol invaders.Heavily influenced by its German and Hungarian populations, the old town of Zagreb bears the remembrance of these early dwellers. The architecture shows off the Gothic/Baroque influence to the point of looking like a slice of Prague was dropped in the Croatian capital. An excellent example is the Zagreb Cathedral, which sits atop Kaptol Hill in the Upper Town just up from the main thoroughfare of Ilica Street. The romantic, old feel of the city gives Zagreb a lasting charm that desires to be explored and breathed in to leave a lasting impression.
One of the highlights for visiting, if you ask us, is the variety of cuisine. Local, traditional foods such as regionally cured meats, fresh bread, and cheeses are easily accessible. One notable item is the Pag cheese. A hard cheese made from sheep’s milk, it is a true delicacy which comes from the island of Pag, a salt producing center. True Pag cheese can only come from sheep raised on the island so please take the time to find it. Croatian cuisine is also influenced with an Italian bent. Gnocchi and risottos are popular items, and usually paired with a thick, rich sauce. They also lay the groundwork for a more innovative side of the culinary arts. Stop in at Trilogija in the Upper Town. It can be a bit tricky to find, but worth the effort. The locally sourced pumpkin and crispy bacon risotto was amazing, offering the perfect combination of sweet and salty. And when the menu says, “locally sourced,” it is referring to the market only 300 meters away. Seafood is also purchased on the coast in the morning and brought directly to the restaurant for preparation. Trilogija is only a sampling of restaurants offering creative, new takes on Old World favorites.
Zagreb has become a center for the arts and culture not only in the Balkan region, but throughout Europe. Music and film festivals are sprouting up in the capital along with museums of art, history, and science. The Zagreb Art Gallery is popular not only for its architecture, but also for the variety of events hosted annually. Also, drop in and possibly contribute to the Museum of Broken Relationships by leaving behind memorabilia from a lost love. Again, Zagreb has a touch of quirkiness like the world’s shortest funicular.Zagreb has so much to offer travelers, and it continues year round. The city has built a reputation for its winter festivities and ice rinks while continuing a full program during the warmer months. Such diversity and growth have made Zagreb a must visit location for those venturing through Europe. Oh, and don’t forget to sit down and enjoy their delicious coffee.
When are you headed to Zagreb?