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 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. Many trade fairs, revenues from landed estates and offerings of many craft workshops greatly contributed to the wealth of the city.
Affluent aristocratic families, royal officials, church dignitaries and rich traders from across 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 center of Croatia.
When Kaptol, Gradec and the surrounding settlements administratively combined into integrated city of Zagreb in 1850, the development accelerated even more. The disastrous earthquake of 1880 sparked the reconstruction and modernization of many shabby neighborhoods and buildings. Prestigious public buildings were erected, parks and fountains were built, 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 developed a rich civil society, with firm links with all central European centers. 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 developed.
The cosmopolitan buzz of Zagreb will strike you. Everything is accessible on foot – from your hotel to the theatre, wandering around the old Upper Town or through the bustling streets of the more modern Lower Town, which has not lost an ounce of its charm despite the eternal march of time. Venture out and let the moment take hold.
There is something special about the rustle of leaves as you stroll through the autumn colors of downtown Zrinjevac Park. There is magic in the reflections of the gas lanterns in the Upper Town, as the songs of the street performers evoke their own emotions with their distinctive sound. As night falls, everything becomes soft and subdued; the twinkle of candles in the cathedral and at the mystical Stone Gate; the cafés beckoning you in the twilight with their warm hues.
Zagreb is special. It is a long-running tale that allows you room to write your own chapters with your own impressions, something for you to add to the story. Quite simply, Zagreb has a soul. And you… You have Zagreb…