On the 10th day of our tour we toured Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. The city’s history goes back to medieval times when two rival communities on adjacent hilltops battled each other. The area is now known as the Upper City and we visited it by way of the shortest funicular in Europe. We visited a cathedral, an open air market, and watched the “changing of the guard” ceremony where the soldiers were inspected but no guard was changed because they don’t station guards! It was a colorful event for tourists.
According to Croats, the red scarves worn by the soldiers inspired the contemporary necktie. Apparently the French were inspired by the Croatian uniform and created the cravat, which evolved into the habit of men wearing fabric around their necks. To celebrate the invention of the necktie, many of the statues in Zagreb exhibit red scarves!
The Upper City had lots of charm including a quartet of vocalists.
A highlight of our morning was visiting the Museum of Naive Art where a curator told us about some of the wonderful artwork done by untrained Slavic artists.
We finished our tour of the Upper City by visiting a tunnel that was used during WWII as an air raid shelter. It is now used as a pedestrian passageway and recently became a site for displaying public art installations and information about the city.
The original medieval city has expanded over the years and the Lower City exhibits magnificent buildings, parks, and wide streets constructed during the Austro-Hungarian period in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. (The city is kept up much better than Sarajevo.) We also saw Communist area buildings as well as many contemporary buildings. The city felt modern and thriving.
This is the train station.
This is the National Theater.
The Music Academy on the left and a modern office building on the right.
During our free time, Charlotte and I visited several museums of art and crafts and the botanical garden – all within walking distance of our hotel.
With the tour we visited Mirogoj Cemetery, a huge city cemetery created during the Austro-Hungarian period that includes a chapel, crematorium, extensive arcades, and acres of graveyards where many famous Croats are buried. It is a non-denominational cemetery. (photo from Trip Advisor)
Stay tuned for some villages…