Friday, April 11, 2014

109. Next stop Zagreb ...

After a four week break in my travels - sunning myself in wonderful Split on the Adriatic - it is now time to resume my adventure ... and next stop is Zagreb - a five hour bus trip inland from the coast ...

Zagreb is the capital and the largest city of the Republic of Croatia and is located in the top northwest corner of the country along the Sava River on the southern slopes of the Medvednica Mountains. 

I have taken an apartment in the suburb of Vrbani - just 20 minutes by tram into the city centre - and the trams stop is just 2 minute walk from my front door ... 

 Home for the next four weeks ...


So day one I'm off into the city to orientate myself and find the best coffee - which I later discover is also just two minutes from my front door !!!


The best view of the city and surrounding areas can been taken from the Zagreb Eye.






Now I have to say that the Zagreb is not the most "photogenic" city I have visited - most of the city buildings date back no earlier than the late 19th century ... ( During the 17th and 18th centuries, Zagreb was badly devastated by fire and the plague and a major earthquake in 1880 flattened much of what was left, so very little of the original structures remain ) ... but I am here because of a promised 22 museums and 53 galleries !!! ... Obviously I am not going to see all in just 4 weeks - so making the right choices is my first major task ... 

In the meantime here are a few early impressions of this fine city ...

Ban Jelacic Square ( the city centre )

Zagreb is a city with a rich history dating back to the 1st century AD as a the Roman town of Andautonia. The name "Zagreb" is mentioned for the first time in 1094 at the founding of the Zagreb diocese of Kaptol.

The Croats arrived in the area of present-day Croatia during the early part of the 7th century AD and by the 9th century they had organised the state into two duchies elevating Croatia to the status of a kingdom – retaining this sovereignty for nearly two centuries. Then in 1102 Croatia entered a personal union with Hungary that lasted until 1527, when, faced with Ottoman conquest, the Croatian Parliament elected Ferdinand I of the House of Habsburg to the Croatian throne.

Zagreb Cathedral - the tallest building in Croatia


Original construction began in 1094 - but earthquakes, fires and wars have all but destroyed the original building ... building the present structure began in the late 19th century. During the communist days, the cathedral fell into disrepair. however in more recent times the building has undergone extensive repairs ...




In 1918, after WW I, Croatia was included in the recognised State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs which seceded from Austria-Hungary and merged into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. 

A fascist socialist state under the rule of Marshal Josip Tito ( first as Prime Minister then President for Life … ) was set up during World War II and in June 1991- following the four year Croatian War of Independence - Croatia declared independence from the other Yugoslavian states. In 2013 Croatia finally became a member of the European Union.

 
   13th century St Mark's church ...

Many of the city's fine 19th century buildings have in recent times undergone renovation ...




 

Zagreb has many interesting markets - fruit and veg + flower + book + antique + flea ... and I'm looking forward to exploring these also over the coming days ...  




 




The Zagreb Funicular - built in 1893
 

Since 01 January 1877, the Gric cannon is fired daily from the top window of the Lotrščak Tower on Grič to mark midday. Today I was poised with my camera to record the the event - however the boom of the cannon ( which can be clearly heard across the city ... ) gave me such a shock that I missed recording the smoke coming out of the cannon mouth - remnants of the smoke can be seen wafting up over the roof of the tower.

Saint George ?

The Croatian National Theatre in central Zagreb is one of the finest late 19th century buildings in the city. Housing theatre, ballet and opera, the building is surrounded by a beautiful park - featuring at the moment a wonderful show of tulips ...








My first taste of Croatian performing arts was a performance of Bellini's opera Norma here at the HNK last night. A clever interpretation of one of my favourites ...




Next I must start visiting some of these galleries and museums on offer ...