Zagreb and Hrvatsko zagorje – the heart of Croatia

City of Zagreb

Zagreb, the capital of Croatia with its mysterious old town, beautiful parks, friendly  town squares, great restaurants, coffee shops and a vivid night life and Hrvatsko zagorje with its picturesque villages, green hills, fruitful vineyards, magnificent old castles and thermal spas with natural mineral water, will give you many things to do, see and experience in Croatian inland.

You shall get the taste of Zagreb best if you find yourself lost in the streets of the Upper Town (Gornji Grad) enjoying the view on its many old palaces, museums and churches. Enjoying your morning coffee on one of the charming squares of the city center. Walking through the Zrinjevac city park, dinning at the old Tkalčićeva street with the sound of live music. Visiting the city zoo in the park Maksimir, hiking at the mountain Medvednica or swimming at the lake Jarun.

You shall get the taste of Hrvatsko zagorje having a few days of rest and enjoy in one of the many agrotourism resorts, with great local cuisine and wines. Having a day trip visiting the historical town Varaždin with its many baroque palaces and old city walls or visiting a beautiful old castle Trakoščan with the surrounding lake ad woods. You can explore the history of the begging of the mankind in the Krapina Neanderthal Museum or having a break in one of its many spas, swimming in the natural mineral water pool.

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Zagreb

Zagreb is the cultural, scientific, economic, political and administrative center of the Republic of Croatia. Its favorable location between the Pannonian plain, the edge of the Alps and the Dinaric range has allowed it to become a crossing point for mass international communication. The city is protected from the cold northern winds by the mountain of Medvednica and opens up to the rest of the world thanks to a spacious plain and the Sava river. Zagreb, with a population of nearly one million, contains almost a quarter of the entire population of Croatia.

A Brief History of Zagreb

Today's Zagreb has grown out of two medieval settlements that for centuries developed on neighboring hills. The first written mention of the city dates from 1094, when a diocese was founded on Kaptol, while in 1242, neighboring Gradec was proclaimed a free and royal city. Both the settlements were surrounded by high walls and towers, remains of which are still preserved. During the Turkish onslaughts on Europe, between the 14th and 18th centuries, Zagreb was an important border fortress. The Baroque reconstruction of the city in the 17th and 18th centuries changed the appearance of the city. The old wooden houses were demolished, opulent palaces, monasteries and churches were built. The many trade fairs, the revenues from landed estates and the offerings of the many craft workshops greatly contributed to the wealth of the city. Affluent aristocratic families, royal officials, church dignitaries and rich traders from the whole of Europe moved into the city. Schools and hospitals were opened, and the manners of European capitals were adopted. The city outgrew its medieval borders and spread to the lowlands. The first parks and country houses were built. Zagreb confirmed its position as the administrative, cultural and economic centre of Croatia.

When Kaptol, Gradec and the surrounding settlements were administratively combined into the integrated city of Zagreb in 1850, the development accelerated still more. The disastrous earthquake of 1880 sparked off the reconstruction and modernization of many shabby neighborhoods and buildings. Prestigious public buildings were erected, parks and fountains were made, and transportation and other infrastructures were organized. In the 19th century the population increased tenfold. The twentieth century brought the Secession style to Zagreb. The city lived in the plenty of a civil society, with firm links with all the central European centres. With an increase in wealth and industry from the 1960s on, the city spread out over the wide plains alongside the Sava River, where a new, contemporary business city has develop.

Hrvatsko zagorje

Hrvatsko Zagorje is a region north of Zagreb in Croatia between Sava and Drava rivers. This is a hilly county including the central highest range Mt Ivančica 1061m, the longest Mt Medvednica 1032m, and Strahinčica 847m, the northernmost Macelj 718m, Ravna gora 686m, the easternmost Kalnik 643m, and other minor hills. The population of Zagorje is not recorded as such, as it is administratively divided among Krapina-Zagorje County (total population 142,432), western and central part of Varaždin County (total population 183,730) and northwestern part of Zagreb County (total population 309,696), so the population of Zagorje can be reasonably estimated to exceed 200,000 people. Croats usually refer to this region as "Zagorje", a word which means "upland", "hinterland" or literally "beyond the mountain" (Medvednica). The town of Krapina is often referred to as the cultural capital of Kajkavian dialect, the north-western dialect of the Croatian language. 

That relatively small piece of land boasts an extraordinary rich history and cultural heritage. No other part of Croatia can offer that many medieval castles and fortifications,churchesandabbeys, and archeological sites that attract visitors. The largest towns are Varaždin, Krapina, Zabok and Ivanec. "Hušnjakovo” in Krapina is the most famous site of the Neanderthal man in the world due to the richest and most various fossil collection. The most beautiful medieval castles are: Trakošćan and Veliki Tabor. Zagorje is also famous for its many thermal water spa resorts like Krapinske toplice, Varaždinske toplice, Stubičke toplice, Tuheljske toplice and its pilgrimage place Marija Bistrica.

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