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May 05, 2008

Zagreb: A day trip from Krk island – part 2

Posted in: Croatia travel and places to visit

Lotrscak, Zagreb, Croatia

In the first part of our one-day trip to Zagreb post we talked about some of the sights one could take in whilst visiting the Downtown area of Zagreb. Contrasting with Downtown, is the Upper Town area of the city, known locally as Gornji Grad.

Upper Town

Primarily a residential district and the heart of Croatia’s government, Upper Town is nonetheless well worth a visit for its rich history, atmosphere and outstanding architectural sights.

The district started life as a free royal city, a settlement of merchants, tradesmen and craftsmen in the early middle ages. Zagreb has been fortunate as it hasn’t had had to destroy the old to build the new - hence Upper Town has managed to preserve its medieval and baroque atmosphere featuring many old palaces, churches and squares. The narrow streets of Upper Town are still lit by gas lanterns – if you happen to be in the area at sunset, you may well see a man on a scooter or bicycle going from one lantern to another and lighting each by hand.

Taking a walk around Upper Town you can spot the remains of the old fortifications erected to defend the city from the Tartar hordes in the 12th century. What remains of the city walls today is a single gate – called “The Stone Gate” where many locals pray at the picture of the Blessed Virgin Mary which is located within the gate.

In the centre of the district is the church of St. Mark, one of the oldest buildings in Zagreb. If you visit the church, you can see its famous coloured roof tiles arranged so as to form the old Croatian coat of arms as well as Zagreb’s own coat of arms. Opposite the church to one side you can see Zagreb’s house of parliament and on the other side the Presidential Palace “Banski Dvori”.

To the southern part of Upper Town is the Lotrscak tower, built in the 13th century. Every day at noon, on the dot, a cannon is fired from the tower denoting the exact time to Zagreb’s citizens. Turning either left or right from the Lotrscak tower will lead you to Strossmayer promenade, a beautiful walkway alongside what used to be the southern city walls, with a glorious view of downtown Zagreb below.

Whether you visit Upper Town or Downtown Zagreb, one thing not to miss is the city’s galleries and museums which is the focus for the third part of this series of day trips to Zagreb - coming soon.

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