Zagreb is a city with a rich history dating from the Roman times to the present day. The oldest settlement located in the vicinity of the city was the Roman Andautonia, in today’s Ščitarjevo.
The name “Zagreb” is recorded in 1134, in reference to the foundation of the settlement at Kaptol in 1094. Zagreb became a free royal town in 1242.
Zagreb is the 4th largest city in Southeast Europe by population, but it is 2nd largest city in Southeast Europe by area.
A 10-minute ride north of the city centre (or a 30-minute walk through leafy streets) takes you to one of the most beautiful cemeteries in Europe, sited at the base of Mt Medvednica. It was designed in 1876 by Austrian-born architect Herman Bollé, who created numerous buildings around Zagreb. The majestic arcade, topped by a string of cupolas, looks like a fortress from the outside, but feels calm and graceful on the inside.
Right in the heart of the city, Zagreb’s bustling fruit and vegetable market has been trader-central since the 1930s when the city authorities set up a market space on the ‘border’ between the Upper and Lower Towns. Sellers from all over Croatia descend here daily to hawk fresh produce.
The main part is on an elevated square; the street level has indoor stalls selling meat and dairy products and (a little further towards the square) flowers. The stalls at the northern end of the market are packed with locally produced honey, oil, handicrafts and cheap food.
This very short, and steep, funicular railway line, constructed in 1888, connects the Lower and Upper Towns of Zagreb.
Lotrščak Tower was built in the middle of the 13th century to protect the south city gate. Normally you can enter and climb up to the top for a sweeping 360-degree view of the city, but it was closed for extensive restoration work in 2018, with no date set for reopening. Directly across the street is the funicular railway, constructed in 1888, which connects the Lower and Upper Towns.
For the last 100 years a cannon has been fired from the tower every day at noon, allegedly to commemorate one day in the mid-15th century when the cannon was fired at the Turks at noon, who were camped across the Sava River. On its way down, the cannonball happened to hit a rooster, which was blown to bits – according to legend, this was so demoralising for the Turks that they decided not to attack the city. (A less fanciful explanation is that the cannon shot allows churches to synchronise their clocks.)