After World War I, the Croats joined with their neighbours to form the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.
By 1929, a royal dictatorship was introduced and Yugoslavia was formed.
From 1953-1980 Tito was the president. He's often described as a 'benevolent dictator' which seems like an oxymoron to me, but asking Croats they seem to view him like Marmite - they either love him or hate him.
In 1991 Croatia voted for independence from Yugoslavia and a war broke out. Actually Adam and other Croatians we've met refer to this as 'The War'.
Adam also revealed that Zagreb Cathedral is the tallest building in Zagreb, and, due to an architectural error, one of the towers is 4cm taller than the other!
Inside the cathedral, we were fascinated when Adam pointed out a mural of the Croatian Glagolitic Script - the Glagolitic alphabet is the oldest known Slavic alphabet. The Croats used it between the 12th and 20th century! This piece celebrates Croatia transferring from Paganism to Christianity:
I like it because it reminds me of the language in Futurama.
Futurama and ancient languages aside, Zagreb Cathedral has a lot of other cool things from lots of different countries, including:
The (buried) body of the blessed Bishop of Croatia, who fought against the commies and the Nazis; it is thought that he will soon be named a saint:
Our favourite was the Slovenian statues of the last supper, which was a lot more interesting than the traditional painting:
Adam also told us a funny secret about Zagreb Cathedral and made us swear not to blog about it - you'll just have to go on the tour and find out what it is for yourself!! :)
Outside of Zagreb Cathedral, Adam pointed over to Medvednica -Bear Mountain and told us that Zagreb is the only capital which holds the ski cup!
On our way over to our next stop, we learn about Zagreb's relationship with tourism: rewind to six years ago and Zagreb had next to no tourism. Nowadays there is a lot more, and everyone (us included) seems to like Zagreb. Adam thinks it's because people have low expectations of Zagreb and then are pleasantly surprised by it, possibly because Zagreb is clean and safe, has an extremely low rate of homelessness and it's yet to be commercialised.
Adam explained that Zagreb was originally two smaller cities: Kaptol (where the cathedral is) and the larger Gradec. Gradec and Kaptol were separated by Medvescak Creek, which has now been concreted over and is a short road with some cute cafes and pubs.
The Bloody Bridge once joined Kaptol and Gradec, so called because there was lots of fighting on it!
We passed a tie shop, and discovered that Croatia holds the record for the longest neck tie in the world (haha). It measured 808m!
|no, this isn't the tie|
Next we walked through the Stone Gate:
The Stone Gate has been around since the 13th Century, and in the 18th Century there was a fire that destroyed everything in/on the gate except for a statue of the Virgin Mary. Croatia being a Catholic country, this was taken as a miracle and people still pray inside the gate today.
We saw a few people praying and read some of the prayers on the wall:
Read as in, just looked at them - we don't speak any Croatian!! But we noticed a lot of Majkos and Hvalas and we learnt that Majko = mother and Hvala = thanks.
Next up was my favourite thing in Zagreb: St Mark's Church:
Isn't it beautiful!!! I'd actually seen a photo of it before we came to Zagreb, and just assumed it was an average church with a beautiful hologram on it (I have no idea why). So I was surprised to see it was 'real' and made of tiles! I LOVE it!
Adam told us that the coat of arms on the right is the coat of arms of Zagreb.
And the one on the left is for the Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia:
The upper left bit is for Northern Croatia: everyone agrees that red and white have been the Croatian colours since before Croatia was even Croatia, but no one is sure why the chess like pattern is Croatian, it just is.
The upper right bit is three heads of the lion/leopard symbolising the three kings of the coastal part of Croatia.
And the bottom bit is a marten and represents the Eastern part. Interestingly (I think) marten = kuna in Croatian. Kuna is the current currency in Croatia, but back in the day, marten skins were traded and used as currency! (Mind, blown.)
Then we found our favourite view of the city:
Which was right next to Art Park and a cute avenue with lots of art on it!
Adam took the nicest photo of us:
We then went in a creepy tunnel under the city, we liked this bit a lot, apparently they sometimes hold raves in there!
After the tunnel it was time for a coffee for me and an ice tea for Tanbay. We had them at Cogito Coffee and they were both delicious.
Our final stop was Jelacic Square. This is probably the most famous square in Zagreb and is named after Count Jelacic. You can see a statue of his likeness in the centre of the square on top of a horse. He has a sword in his hand and was originally pointed East towards Hungary (which Croatia hated).
During the communist times, Jelacic was branded a traitor, his statue was moved, the square was renamed Republic Square and it became a parking lot.
When communism fell in Croatia, the statue was put back, but this time he is facing south, to no one in particular as Croatia no longer hates Hungary :)
We make daily YouTube videos and day 147 was all about this tour:
We loved our tour of Zagreb with Hello Zagreb, it lasted about three hours and we went from knowing basically nothing about Croatia, to feeling confident that we now know a lot about its culture and history. Adam was a great guide: informative, funny and lots of fun!
To book your own tour head on over to their website hellozagreb.com or find them on TripAdvisor.
Make sure you follow them on Facebook and Pin this to your Croatian bucket-list:
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Travelling Weasels were invited as guests of Hello Zagreb, however as always all opinons are our own.
We're Laura and Tanbay, a British/German couple who have successfully weaselled our way out of the rat-race and want you to do the same! We also want to make it clear that we sometimes use “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we use personally and believe will add value to our readers.