In May I visited Zagreb, Croatia. In a short span of twelve days I knew that I wanted to return to this ancient, small city, the capital of Croatia, and explore it and the country as part of my travel adventures.
When I was in Zagreb, I blogged about “Slaying Dragons in Zagreb” and I have several unpublished photos. This blog entry is a photo collage of my best unpublished photos of Zagreb. It not only is a record of my initial visit but also sets the stage for what is to come.
This week I returned to Zagreb after two very enjoyable months exploring Romania; I have high expectations about my adventures in Croatia. There are traditional foods that I intend to sample and there are ample opportunities to visit places near the Adriatic Sea and the mountains between Zagreb and the seacoast.
My introduction to Croatia in May began in Zagreb’s Ban Jelačić Square. “Ban” is a term that denotes being a high state dignitary in the middle ages. Josip Jelačić, a Croatian noble, was a 19th century politician and commander of the Croatian army. He is a Croatian national hero for his leadership in military battles during the Hungarian revolution.
Ban Jelačić Square is the heart of the city. Transportation hubs, commerce, and diplomacy are centered near this square where historically the city began.
In the middle ages two towns, Gradec and Kaptol, existed as the predecessor to present-day Zagreb. The city has grown from the merger of these towns which are located adjacent to the Ban Jelačić Square and a famous open-air Dolac Market between them.
Dolac Market is refered to as “the Belly of Zagreb.” Farmers and merchants from the surrounding area bring produce to the market which is held under traditional large, red umbrellas. Vibrant colored locally produced seasonal fruits and vegetables and various cheeses, meat, and fish are for sale. Many fresh items are imported from other European Union countries as well as North Africa. The smells of fresh fruit and vegetables permeate the air and you contemplate tasting these delights sold here.
During my many explorations in Zagreb I ventured to the old city of Gradec, also known as the “Upper Town.” The focal point of Upper Town is the Saint Mark’s Parish Church and Square. Saint Mark’s Church was initially constructed in the 13th century and has been renovated many times. The roof tiles depict the coats of arms for the City of Zagreb (right) and the Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia, and Dalmatia (left).
The buildings in Gradec are from the 13th – 17th centuries. Much of the refurbishment is more recent and provides additional attraction to the old town. However, the area is full of old houses and buildings which are still used today. One can imagine the eerie feelings of walking in the dark on the streets and walkways prior to there being gaslit street lighting.
Gradec was the political seat of power and cultural center of Zagreb while Kaptol was the spiritual. The market was between the towns as it is today.
In Kaptol there are remnants of the medieval city walls and alleys which define the town boundaries. I enjoy exploring alleyways that are tucked away from routine tourist traffic. Can you imagine the commotion of peasants doing their daily chores while others herd their pigs and chickens through small spaces like the one pictured in Kaptol? They must have had a foul stench as well as waste was discarded in the walkways.
The Zagreb Cathedral in Kaptol is a dominant structure in my photo of the Ban Jelačić Square photo above. Several sections of the protective city walls remain as photographed near the cathedral.
Not only massive buildings, statues, landscape, and people present photo opportunities. There are always interesting shots and I especially like my photo of flowers in a window slightly ajar which I found while wandering through the Upper Town. I like the weathered, peeling paint, the rugged look from the chipped sill, and the crumbled texture in the walls.
I also like my photo of Saint George having slain the dragon from my story “Slaying Dragons in Zagreb.” The statue is a tired George and his horse resting following battle with the dead dragon on the ground.
I am happy to have returned to Zagreb to continue my journey even though it will be only for one month more before an extended trip to the USA. I plan to make the best use of this time to further explore, photograph and blog about this beautiful place.
Two delicious bakeries and a nice coffee shop are outside my apartment door! All I need every day is a fresh pastry and a brewed latte and I am “good to go…” to hit the trail on my next adventure!