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Zagreb: a destination in its own
Belgrade (Serbia), December 29th 2013

The journey over the perfect highway from Ljubljana, which is the capital of Slovenia, to the Croatian capital Zagreb, is a short one. Only 150 kilometres is the distance between these two major cities. The ride is swift, because both countries are part of the European Union nowadays, which means that the crossing of the border is nothing more than passing a road sign mentioning ‘Welcome to Croatia’. Zagreb is the capital of a country which is admired by most visitors for its tremendous coast. Hundreds of thousands of tourists visit the Adriatic Coast every year for a unforgettable holiday with lots of sun and beach. But if you tell somebody that you are going to visit Zagreb, you will get confused responses. “Is it worth it?”.

View on Zagreb

We booked an apartment at a private home in one of Zagreb’s suburbs, called Savski Gaj. The suburb is only a 15-minute tram ride away from the city centre, and for that reason very acceptable. We are visiting Zagreb during the Christmas days (25th and 26th of December), and because of the fact that all supermarkets are closed on these two days, we did all our shopping on the 24th. The next morning we take the tram to the city centre to explore the city. The interesting heart of the town is separated in two parts, an upper and a lower one. The upper side of town is the oldest part, and this is the place to find the buildings from the earliest time of Zagreb. The lower part of town is newer. Most buildings are from the 19th or 20th century, and this is the place where most shops, businesses, restaurants and hotels are located.

On the first days of our visit, we concentrate our attention on the upper part of the city. This part is built on two hills, called Kaptol and Gradec, and the star that steals the show in the upper part of town is the huge Cathedral of the assumption of the blessed Virgin Mary. The original structure collapsed during an earthquake in 1880, but the reconstructed building of today, is probably an honourable successor. It is Christmas Day when we visit the cathedral and are witnessing a huge local and rich crowd who come in their expensive Audi’s and BMW’s to the church in chic and stylish cloths to profess their belief.

The interior of the Cathedral of the assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Also the other part of the upper side of town is worth a visit. Small and cobblestoned roads and alleys lead to beautiful churches, impressing palaces and atmospheric streets with outdoor terraces that are largely filled on this chilly day, where the temperature did not exceed 10 degrees Celsius. Like we saw in Ljubljana with the Slovenians, also here in Croatia, people do like to socialise on outdoor terraces, even in cold temperatures. And for those who think it’s too chilly, warm blankets are available to hang around the shoulders or to lay down on the knees. But we saw nobody using them. And that Croatians can even conquer lower temperatures, is proven by the fact that most cafes have terrace heating available, which isn’t operational yet at nine degrees Celsius.

We used the second day of our visit to Zagreb in the lower part of town. We saw among other things the train station, the neo baroque National Theatre and the art nouveau National Library. Zagreb is the perfect city to stroll around and to take a break on one of the many terraces once in a while. So the answer is yes. Zagreb is definitely worth a visit.

Croatia's National Theatre
The fantastic Cathedral of the assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
Our tapas meal in our appartment on Christmas Day
The St. Mark's Church
One of the atmospheric streets in upper Zagreb

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