Zagreb – where the golden old meets modern titanium

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The most popular tourist destinations in Europe include the Alps or the romantic gondolas of Venice or the elegant Prague or perhaps experiencing the chic life of Paris. But visiting Zagreb will be the farthest thought on any tourist’s mind. Such should not be the case because Zagreb is an exotic location for visiting. Zagreb is the capital of Croatia for less than two decades but has been the country’s most influential center of culture and politics since the Middle Ages. Today, nearly twenty-five percent of Croatia’s population resides in Zagreb which has grand buildings and monuments that are simply a treat for the visitors.

Zagreb is a contemporary dazzling city that has now evolved from a science and cultural center into a modern-day focal point of industry and commerce. The routes from Central Europe and the Adriatic coast pass through Zagreb, enhancing its commercial and political importance. Since the achievement of independence in 1991 by Croatia, Zagreb has been the obvious choice for the nation’s capital. It is the main hub for business as well as for culture, academics, sports, and arts. The elaborative and ornate Baroque environment prevailing in the Upper Town is sure to delight the heart of any visitor to Zagreb. The open markets and diversified shopping facilities offering a huge choice of traditional crafts and other goodies are a must-see as well.

Originally, Zagreb consisted of two medieval towns which were actually fortresses situated on hilltops overlooking the beautiful Sava River. It was in the Baroque time that Zagreb actually got its importance as a center of commerce due to its strategic location on routes that connected Central Europe to the Adriatic Sea. The horizon of Zagreb is strewn with picturesque towers from the medieval era, roving palaces from the nineteenth century, cathedrals and modern-day markets do fuel the interests of the tourists. 

The modern Zagreb is divided into three parts with the old Upper Town or the old prehistoric Gornji grad which houses the palace of the President, the St. Mark’s church, art galleries, and museums to cater to the artistic and history buffs. It is also the seat of the Croatian parliament and even today, the streets are paved with cobblestones and lit by gas lights which turn Zagreb into a picture book town in the evening. Then there is the Lower Town or the 19th-century Donji grad which is populated with shops, parks, theatres, cafes, and restaurants. There is also the modern post World War II Novi Zagreb or the new Zagreb with its modern-day skyscrapers and high rise buildings housing residents as well as important commercial houses.

The City of Museums as Zagreb is affectionately called boasts of more museums per square foot than any other city across the globe. Though these museums will be the cynosure for history buffs, there are various other tourist attractions that Zagreb has on offer. An exquisite relaxing activity that any tourist would love to do is what Zagrebcani or the people of Zagreb indulge in – just sitting at the wayside tables at the café and watch other people and the world go by. As evening approaches, there is a sumptuous meal awaiting you at any of the numerous Croatian restaurants after which you can even visit the exotic clubs and quirky bars. Remember that whatever course of action you choose; a grand time is guaranteed for you.

Zagreb boasts of fantastic accommodations and hotels which are diverse and meet everyone’s expectations and purses. Traditionally, the stars which that relevant category of accommodation possesses determine the charges for an overnight stay. The prestigious chains have their hotels in the very center of Zagreb and offer royal facilities to the tourists. There are budget accommodations also available and these have their own parking lots with some car parks being underground.

Dining in Zagreb is really a gourmet’s delight. You have food for any palate and you are sure to be sumptuously enchanted. There is a myriad offering of eating places in Zagreb which offer a rich variety of magnificent food. Zagreb is full of gastronomical revelations that will astound you and flabbergast your taste buds. With the background of the unique sounds from the piano or the “tamburica” depicting your mood and time of the day, you can choose the menu of your choice and taste, though the underlying order you should really go for is the local dishes. The most popular and liked dishes being Dalmatian pasticada, Cream and cheese strukli, kulen, turkey with mlinci, and some of the elaborate Mediterranean delights which arrive from the Adriatic sea directly. You are bound to love these unique culinary offerings and return for more as long as you are in Zagreb. It is customary and good etiquette to tip at the restaurant or the hotel where you are staying and the tip should be about 5 to 10 percent of your meal expenses.

A wide variety of gifts and other knick-knacks can be taken back with you as souvenirs or gifts for your friends and relatives back home. The most sought after are clothes and traditional pillows or vanjkuš, books, pictures and monographs and calendars, excellent cakes and wines. there are also Zagreb-touch souvenirs like lictar, ceramics, plaster houses with traditional motives, pleter, doves, castings of the famous Baška Tablet, items of crystal glass, fruit brandies, Samobor mustard, Zagreb monographs, Samobor appetizer bermet which are available all across the city and will delight the recipient to no end.

Zagreb has a winter when there is not much activity outdoors. But it is a different story during summer when the Mediterranean spirit comes to the foreground due to the excellent sunny weather. During the evening, the roadside cafes are jam-packed with tourists and locals who throng to enjoy and amuse themselves. There are plenty of gaming sites and casinos in Zagreb for risk-taking tourists. The traditional coffee houses of Zagreb interspersed with the modern décor of cafes lends a superb charm of the old with the new for the tourist to enjoy his beverages. The locals as well as some of the tourists might prefer the coffee houses at the Ban Jelačić Square, while the younger Turks frequent the cafes and the discos and pubs for entertainment and relaxation. As you can see, my friend, there is something for everyone in Zagreb!

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