Zagreb (pronounced ZAH-greb) is the capital city of Croatia. The city's population was 779,145 in 2001, and 1,088,841 with its metropolitan area (Samobor, Velika Gorica and Zaprešić), situated on the slopes of Medvednica mountain and along the banks of the Sava river; elevation 120 m.
Its favorable geographic position in the southwestern part of the Pannonian Basin which extends to the Alpine, Dinaric, Adriatic and Pannonic regions, provides the best valuation of connection for traffic between Central Europe and the Adriatic Sea.
The traffic position, concentration of industry (metal processing , electrical appliances, textiles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals (Pliva ), printing and leather industries, wood processing , paper etc.), scientific and research institutions and industrial tradition underlie its leading economic position. The city is relatively prosperous by eastern European standards, albeit the average incomes and prices are still lower than further in the west.
While the human habitats were present at the wider city area since the Neolithic (including the well-preserved Roman town of Andautonia ), its modern name has been recorded for the first time in 11th century (1094), when it became a bishopric see, while it became a free city in the 13th century. The city core comprises the mediaeval parts of the town called Gradec (Grič) and Kaptol . The construction of the railway embankment (1860) enabled the old suburbs, which did not represent an urban whole up to then, to merge gradually into Donji Grad , characterized by a regular block pattern. During the Austro-Hungarian era Zagreb was called by its German name Agram.
Working-class quarters emerged between the railway and the Sava and residential quarters on the hills of the southern slopes of Medvednica between the two World Wars.
The blocks between the railway and the Sava were built after the Second World War followed from the mid-1950s by new residential areas south of the Sava river, the so-called Novi Zagreb (New Zagreb). The city also expanded towards the west and the east and "consumed" what were once mere villages at Dubrava, Podsused , Jarun, Blato etc.
The cargo railway hub and the international airport Pleso were built south of the Sava river. The biggest industrial zone (Žitnjak ) in the southeast represents an extension of the industrial zones on the eastern outskirts of the city, between the Sava and the Prigorje region.
Urbanized lines of settlements connect Zagreb with the centers in its surroundings: Sesvete , Zaprešić, Samobor, Dugo Selo and Velika Gorica. Sesvete is the closest one to become a part of the conurbation and is in fact already included in the City of Zagreb rather than the Zagreb county (which excludes the city).
There are three main transit connections:
- the western, towards Ljubljana, Slovenia and on to Western Europe;
- the eastern, towards Slavonia and on to Southeastern Europe and the Near East; and
- the southern, towards Rijeka, Croatia's biggest port in the Kvarner bay and Split in Dalmatia, the second largest Croatian city and also an important port.
The railway running along the Sutla river and the Zagorje main road (Zagreb - Maribor - Vienna), as well as traffic connections with the Pannonian region and Hungary (the Zagorje railroad, the roads and railway to Varaždin - Čakovec and Koprivnica) are linked with the truck routes.
The southern railway connection to Split operates on a line via the Lika region; a faster line along the Una river valley is currently out of use due to unsettled border crossing issues with Bosnia and Herzegovina. However, the Lika line is being renovated to allow for a five hour journey, while the Una line is in decay.
The wider Zagreb area has been constantly inhabited ever since the prehistoric period, witnessed by the archaeological findings in the Veternica cave from the Paleolithic and the excavation of the remains of a destroyed Roman town of Andautonia near the present village of Ščitarjevo .
Picturesque villages on the slopes of Medvednica: Šestine, Gračani and Remete are arranged around the city like beads of a necklace, and maintain their rich tradition even today: folk costumes, Šestine umbrellas, gingerbread products, etc.
The Medvednica mountain (Zagrebačka gora), with its highest peak Sljeme (1,033 m), provides a wonderful panoramic view of metropolitan Zagreb, the Sava and the Kupa valleys, the region of Hrvatsko Zagorje . From the top of the mountain, and during fair weather, the vista reaches as far as Velebit mountain and snow-capped peaks of the Julian Alps in nearby Slovenia. There are several mountain huts offering accommodation and restaurants providing refreshment for hikers. Skiers visit Sljeme which has four ski-runs, three ski-lifts and a chairlift.
The old Medvedgrad , a medieval burg built in the 13th century and recently restored, represents a special attraction of the Medvednica hill. It overlooks the western part of the city and also has the Shrine of the Homeland, a memorial place with eternal flame, where Croatia pays reverence to all its heroes fallen for homeland in its history, customarily on the national holidays.
Travel agencies organize guided excursions to the surroundings as well as the sightseeing of Zagreb.
Zagreb is a substantial tourist center, not only in terms of transit from West and Central Europe to the Adriatic Sea but also as a tourist destination. Since the end of the war it has attracted a fair number of tourists, but many tourists that visit Croatia skip Zagreb in favor of the beaches along the Adriatic coast and the even older historic cities such as Dubrovnik, Šibenik, Zadar and others.
Nevertheless, Zagreb celebrated its 900th birthday in 1994 and it is not only rich in cultural and historical monuments, museums and galleries, but it also has a variety of modern shops, and offers good quality of diversified restaurants as well as sports and recreation facilities. It is a big center of congress tourism , economic and business events and trade fairs not only in Croatia but also in this part of Europe. Being an important junction point, it has road, air, railway and bus connections with European metropolises and all bigger cities and tourist resorts in Croatia.
The historical part of the town, the Upper Town and Kaptol, are a unique urban core even in European terms, and thus represent the target of sightseeing tours. The old town's streets and squares can be reached on foot, starting from Ban Josip Jelačić Square, the central part and the heart of Zagreb, or by a funicular on nearby Tomićeva Street. The old core of the town includes many famous buildings, churches, museums and institutions as well as pleasant restaurants and coffee bars.
Zagreb's many museums reflect the history, art and culture not only of Zagreb and Croatia, but also of Europe and the world. Around thirty collections in museums and galleries comprise more than 3.6 million various exhibits, excluding church and private collections.
The Archaeological Museum (Nikola Šubić Zrinski Square 19) possesses over 400,000 objects, not all of them being exhibited. The holdings include evidence of Croatian presence in this area as well as rare samples which have made the museum known to the whole world. The most famous are the Egyptian collection, the Zagreb mummy and bandages with the oldest Etruscan inscription in the world (Liber Linteus Zagrabiensis), as well as the numismatic collection. A part of the museum is set aside for the collection of stone monuments dating back predominantly to the Roman period.
The Croatian Museum of Natural Sciences (Demetrova Street 1) holds the world's most extensive collection of the remains of Neandertal man found at one site -- the remains, stone weapons and tools of prehistoric Krapina man. The Technical Museum (Savska Street 18) maintains the oldest preserved machine in this area, dating from 1830 which still operates. Valuable historical collections are found in the Croatian Historical Museum, the Museum of the City of Zagreb, the Museum of Arts and Crafts, the Ethnographic Museum, the Croatian School Museum, the Croatian Hunting Museum, the Croatian Sports Museum, the Croatian Post and Telecommunications Museum, the HAZU (Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts) Glyptotheque (collection of monuments), and the HAZU Graphics Cabinet.
Many visitors find the Mimara Museum (Roosevelt Square 5), housing the donation by Wiltrud and Ante Topić Mimara , very attractive. Of the total of 3,700 varied works of art, more than 1,500 exhibits constitute permanent holdings, dating from the prehistoric period up to the 20th century. The HAZU Strossmayer Gallery of Old Masters (Zrinski Square 11) offers permanent holdings presenting European paintings from the 14th to the 19th centuries, and the Ivan Meštrović Studio, (Mletačka Street 8) with sculptures, drawings, lithography portfolios and other items, was a donation of this great artist to his homeland.
The Museum of Contemporary Art (Catherine's Square 2) follows and presents contemporary trends in fine arts. The Museum and Gallery Center (Jezuitski Square 4) introduces on various occasions the Croatian and foreign cultural and artistic heritage. The Art Pavilion (King Tomislav Square 22) is the oldest exhibition complex in the Slavic south, with regularly organized exhibitions. The exhibitions are also held in the impressive Meštrović's building on Hrvatskih Velikana Square — the Home of the Croatian Fine Artists. The Museum of Na´ve art (Ćirilometodska Street 3) houses more than one thousand works by a hundred and odd authors of the Croatian na´ve art. The World Center "Wonder of Croatian Na´ve Art" (Ban Jelačić Square 12) exhibits masterpieces of Croatian na´ve art as well as works of new generation of artists. The Modern Gallery (Hebrangova Street 1) comprises all relevant fine artists of the 19th and 20th centuries.
Other cultural sites and events
The city offers rich cultural and artistic enjoyment. There are about 20 permanent or seasonal theatres and stages. The Croatian National Theatre built in 1895 is the most impressive building among them. The most renowned concert hall is named "Vatroslav Lisinski ", after the composer of the first Croatian opera.
Zagreb hosts many domestic and international events. Animafest, the World Festival of Animated Films, takes place each even year, and the Music Bienniale, the international festival of avant-garde music, every odd year. The Festival of the Zagreb Philharmonic and the famous flowers exhibition Floraart (end of May or beginning of June), the Old-timer Rally, the Week of the Contemporary Dance, as well as Eurokaz, the international festival of contemporary theatre (in June) represent annual events. In the summer, theatre performances and concerts, mostly in the Upper Town, are organized, either indoors or outdoors. The stage on Opatovina hosts the Zagreb Histrion ic Summer.
Zagreb is also the host of Zagrebfest, the oldest Croatian pop-music festival, as well as of several traditional international sports events and tournaments. The Day of the City of Zagreb (16th of November) is celebrated every year with special festivities, esp. on the Jarun lake near the southwestern part of the city. Entertainment can be found in many discotheques, night clubs, casinos, etc.
Souvenirs & Gastronomy
Numerous shops, boutiques, store houses and shopping centers offer a variety of good quality clothes. World famous Zagreb souvenirs include: the ball-point pen, invented by Slavoljub Penkala from Zagreb over 80 years ago, or the tie, an accessory named in several European languages (cravat in French) after Croatian horsemen who fought on the European fronts from the Thirty Years' War in the 17th century up to the French Revolution, wearing characteristic scarves around their necks. The offer of Zagreb includes good-quality crystal, china and ceramics, nice wicker or straw baskets, top-quality Croatian wines and gastronomic products.
Many Zagreb restaurants offer various specialities of national and international cuisine. Domestic products which deserve to be tasted include the turkey, duck or goose with mlinci (a kind of pasta), štrukli (cottage-cheese strudel ), cottage cheese with cream, traditional nut-cake. As Zagreb is relatively close to the sea, restaurants offer fresh seafood. There are many fast-food restaurants and stands in Zagreb, so those who prefer this type of food will not be disappointed.
Recreation and Sports
There are several sports and recreational centers in Zagreb. Recreational Sports Center Jarun, situated on Lake Jarun to the southwest of the city, has fine shingle beaches, a world-class regatta course, a jogging lane around the lake, several restaurants and a discotheque. Its sports and recreation opportunities include swimming, sunbathing, waterskiing, angling and other water sports, but also beach volleyball, football, basketball, handball, table tennis, and miniature golf.
Sports Park Mladost, situated along the embankment of the Sava river, has an Olympic-size swimming pool, smaller indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a sunbathing terrace, 16 tennis courts as well as basketball, volleyball, handball, football and field hockey courts. A volleyball sports hall is within the park.
Sports and Recreational Center Šalata , only about a hundred meters from the heart of the city, is most attractive for tennis players. It comprises a big tennis court and eight smaller ones, two of which are roofed over with the so-called "balloon", and another two equipped with lights. The Center also has swimming pools, basketball and football playgrounds, a gym and fitness center, and a four-lane bowling alley. Outdoor ice-skating is a popular winter recreation at Šalata. There are also several fine restaurants within and near the Center.
Tennis Center Maksimir , in the part of the city called Ravnice to the east of the center, consists of two sports blocks. The first comprises a tennis center situated in a large tennis hall with four courts. There are 22 outdoor tennis courts with lights. The other block offers multipurpose sports facilities: apart from tennis courts, there are handball, basketball, indoor football grounds, as well as track and field facilities, a bocci ball alley and table tennis opportunities.
Recreational swimmers can enjoy a smaller-size indoor swimming pool in Daničićeva Street, and skaters can skate in the skating rink on Trg Sportova (Sports Square). Hippodrome Zagreb offers recreational horseback riding opportunities.
There are several smaller sports centers and playgrounds as well as gyms and fitness centers in the city.
The city has a reasonably well developed road network with several of the main lines up to four tracks wide and a full-profile expressway encircling most of the city. Public transportation in the city is organized in two layers: the inner parts of the city are mostly covered by trams and the outer suburbs are linked with buses. A single funicular near the city center is something of a tourist attraction. Taxis are generally only used for transport from the railway station and the airport.
Zagreb is the site of the University of Zagreb founded in 1669. The faculty buildings as well as dorms are scattered all around the city. Zagreb also hosts several faculties, parts of various politechnic schools, as well as dozens of gymnasiums and other high schools.
The major city neighbourhoods (četvrti or kvartovi), with 2001 population in parenthesis, are:
- Brezovica (10,884)
- Črnomerec (38,762)
- Donja Dubrava (35,944)
- Donji Grad (45,108)
- Gornja Dubrava (61,388)
- Gornji Grad – Medvešćak (36,384)
- Maksimir (49,750)
- Novi Zagreb – istok (65,301)
- Novi Zagreb – zapad (48,981)
- Pešćenica – Žitnjak (58,283)
- Podsljeme (Šestine–Gračani–Markuševec) (17,744)
- Podsused–Vrapče (42,360)
- Sesvete (59,212)
- Stenjevec (41,257)
- Trešnjevka – jug (67,162)
- Trešnjevka – sjever (55,358)
- Trnje (45,267)
Zagreb is also home to the eponymous film-producing company, Zagreb Film.
Zagreb is oficially twinned with the following towns and cities:
- Mainz, Germany, since 1967
- St. Petersburg, Russia, since 1968
- Troms°, Norway, since 1971
- Kyoto, Japan, since 1972
- Krakow, Poland, since 1975
- Lisbon, Portugal, since 1977
- Pittsburgh, United States of America, since 1980
- Shanghai, China, since 1980
- Budapest, Hungary, since 1994
- Vienna, Austria, since 1994
- Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, since 2001
- Ljubljana, Slovenia, since 2001
- Metropolitan Zagreb
- Zagreb Museums and Galleries
- Croatian Museums and Galleries
- Historic Zagreb on Stamps
- Zagreb Fairs
- Official web site of the City of Zagreb
- Spansko neighbourhood community
Bjelovar-Bilogora | Brod-Posavina | Dubrovnik-Neretva | Istria | Karlovac | Koprivnica-Križevci | Krapina-Zagorje | Lika-Senj | Međimurje | Osijek-Baranja | Požega-Slavonia | Primorje-Gorski Kotar | Šibenik-Knin | Sisak-Moslavina | Split-Dalmatia | Varaždin | Virovitica-Podravina | Vukovar-Srijem | Zadar | Zagreb
City of Zagreb