I knew nothing about Zagreb. I hate to say it, but I had never even heard of it until I looked up festivals to go to for New Years 2017. The reason I ended up in Zagreb was because of an Armin van Buuren concert on New Years Eve. What I found in the Croatian capital city was contagious. It may have been freezing, but the street markets, history, fun facts and people were warm enough to keep me wanting more. I hope to return in the summer, but here are my 6 things you cannot miss if you go during the winter months:
- Christmas Markets
Named the Best Christmas Market in Europe 2 years in a row, there is not a shortage of vendors in this snowy city. From the main squares to side streets you cannot miss the smell of mulled wine or hot sausages from your nose. Food trucks stay open day and night while merchants selling souvenirs and speciality gifts are only open during the day. There is also a large ice rink for families in the middle of the main Zagreb Garden.
- St. Marks Church
One of the most famous landmarks of Zagreb, the St. Marks Church stands in-between City Hall and the Parliament building. The tiles were designed by a German artist after an earthquake damaged the original roof. The crest on the left is of the Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia while the one on the right is the crest of this great city.
- Cathedral of Zagreb
90% of Croatians identify as Catholic. The Cathedral of Zagreb is a short walk away from St. Mark’s and has 3 chandeliers from the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas. At 108 meters high, the Cathedral is the tallest building in Croatia. It took 26 years to build, and the craziest story regarding this place of worship occurred when a man climbed one of the spires and did a handstand. He did this to cause attention and help him become a firefighter for the city. After several hours of negotiation, he came down willingly and was offered a job on the squad.
- Stone Gate
Being a mediaeval city, Zagreb had a stone wall protecting its wooden houses since the 12th Century. After several fires in several sites, at one spot in the stone wall only one item was not torched in the flames: a painting of the Virgin Mary and Jesus. After this, a local woman made this area in the Stone Gate a small chapel and it is one of the most visited places for locals to pray to this day.
- Museum of Broken Relationships
Sadly, this was one attraction I did not get to experience. It was closed 2 days I was in town because of the holiday and then it was sold out the remaining day I was there. What makes this museum different is that people from all over the world can send items from a bad relationship and they will be displayed here with a short story. I would recommend getting tickets in advance!
- Lotrscak Tower
As the city used to be gated, citizens were not allowed in or out between 9pm and 9am. This tower would fire out a cannon at each hour to warn citizens of the time. It has been going off for over 150 years, and still does today!
Have you ever visited a city, not knowing anything about it, and been blown away so much that you want to return?