Croatia: Zagreb, Hip Yet Medieval Capital

 

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Zagreb’s Central Square with the Museum of Native Art  at the far end. We ate at several little restaurants on the side streets.

Zagreb, with a tram running through the central square, has a lower and upper section.   Standing in front of our hotel at the farther end of the square, I thought that Zagreb was a flat city. However, when we made our way a few blocks north,  we could see that there was an upper and lower town. We walked past tented  tables with handcrafted jewelry and stylish clothes for sale, and then entered  the spacious Dulac Market with its scrumptious looking fruits  and vegetables. When we wandered off into the narrower side streets, we found even more cafes and shops to wander through. The funicular to the medieval Old Town was not working while we were in Zagreb, so hundreds of stairs later we were in the upper section of the city with magnificent views  all around.

 

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13th Century St. Mark’s Church in the medieval Upper Town.

The quieter, medieval Upper Town also has a large square, with the checkered- roof St. Mark’s Church as its central anchor. One block down we found the modern Museum of Broken Relationships, which has objects donated by those who have been jilted or unhappy in love. A branch of the museum has been replicated in Los Angeles, and another will also be opening soon in Copenhagen.

For travelers who don’t find  visiting burial grounds a weird experience, Mirogoj Cemetery, meaning peaceful park, is a half hour walk north of the bustling city center.  It is a virtual open air art museum that rates up there with the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.  As we wandered around on the many paths, we could piece together bits of Croatian history from information on the various stones. One million Christians, Jews, and others from many faiths, are buried here, and the place is full of arcades, lime-green cupolas, large marble monuments, and elegant sculptures by noted Croatian artists.

 

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Main Gate at Mirogoj Cemetery, which is part of a huge gated wall. Mirogoj is a short bus ride from the  City Center.

As you are leaving, the huge black marble grave of Croatia’s first president Franjo Tudjiman, is an arresting site against the inside of the front wall near the exit.  A bus from downtown takes a  loop right up the main the gates and returns downtown on the other side, so we were able to  ride through a part of the residential section that you would not otherwise see.

Back downtown, the Mimara Museum gave a quiet retrospective of art history from ancient Egypt and  Grrece to such artists as Rembrandt, Rubens, and Goya.

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One sculpture at Mirogoj Cemetery

 

 

 

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