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48 hours in


Zagreb Cobbled streets. Museums. Trams.


n the edge of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, Croatia’s diminutive capital rivals other popular Hapsburg Cities like Prague and Budapest, with a similar mix of museums, imperial buildings, trams and cafes, says Rupert Parker

Morning: Start in Ban Jelacic Square, named after the statue of Croatian hero Josip Jelacic who defeated the Hungarians in an uprising in 1848. This is the heart of the nineteenth century lower town (Donji Grad) and is surrounded by imposing pastel-coloured Hapsburgian buildings. Have a coffee al fresco with the locals and order Strukli, the local delicacy, a sort of Croatian strudel served savoury or sweet. Just north of here is Dolac market, selling tasty local olive oils, honey and cheeses as well as fruit and veg. Afternoon: Zagreb’s prettiest single street is Tkalčićeva, which curls upwards to the upper town (Gornji Grad). It’s lined with attractive one- and two-storey, steep-roofed nineteenth century houses that are home to boutiques, galleries, bars and restaurants. Higher up, you pass though the thirteenth century stone gate, containing a simple sixteenth-century statue of the Virgin Mary, lit by pilgrims’ candles. At the old town’s centre is the distinctive St Mark’s Church, whose coloured tiled roof features the coat of arms of Croatia, Dalmatia and Slavonia. You’ll also find the Presidential Palace and the Croatian parliament here. Wander the narrow atmospheric cobbled streets, lit by gas lamps and take an aperitif in one of the bars on Bogoviceva. Later stroll down to the Melin Jazz Bar on Kožarska and groove into the small hours.

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Day 2: Church and Museums Morning: Zagreb’s funicular is the shortest in the world – just 66 metres –but take it to the upper town and climb the 13th century Lotrščak Tower for a sweeping view 360-degree view of the city. Each day at noon, a cannon is fired. Croatia’s tallest building is the thirteenth century Zagreb Cathedral, whose twin neogothic towers rise up over 100 metres. If it’s Sunday, go in for the morning service and admire the tomb of Cardinal Stepinac with a sculpture by Croatia’s most celebrated sculptor, Ivan Mestrovic. Then wander round the green space of Park Ribnjak where you can still see fragments of the fifteenth century city wall. Afternoon/Evening: Zagreb has more museums per square metre than any other city in the world. The Nikola Tesla Technical Museum is ideal for kids with steam locomotives, scale models of satellites and space ships, and a replica of a coal mine. The quirkiest is the Museum of Broken Relationships, in the upper town, opened in 2010 after the founders’ romance went badly wrong. It contains mementos submitted from all over the world by those who’ve gone through a break-up or lost a loved one. For a burst of culture take a tram to Novi Zagreb and visit the striking glass and concrete Museum of Contemporary Art which showcases edgy works by Croatian and International artists. In the evening check out a show at the Croatian Musical Institute, a venue for chamber music, or see opera or ballet at the sumptuous neo-classical Croatian National Theatre. 


Day 1: Coffee and Cake

From the top: The striking Croatian National Theatre; a tram in Ban Jelacic Square, in the centre of Zagreb; The quirky Museum of Broken Relationships

48 Hours in croatia.indd 13

1/23/18 11:24 AM

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