Saturday, October 3, 2009

Zagreb, the great surprise. Part 2: the rest of the story

Aside from our hotel frustration with the Hotel Dubrovnik, we loved Zagreb. We did a lot of walking around, seeing the sights. The architecture is varied - sure, a bit of Soviet squat, but not too bad:
Plus these different styles:
I got an aching back and had to rest
One of the main features of the old part of Zagreb is the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. You can see it from most parts of town (the part we were in, anyway), and it is striking. It used to be known as St Stephen's, apparently, and like most cathedrals, it's permanently under repair. Construction began in the second half of the 13th century, on the site of an earlier Romanesque cathedral that was destroyed by the Tartar invasion in 1242.

You can't get it all in one shot - here's my best effort:
Closer, the door:
Closer still, above the door:
And there's a huge fountain in front, shiny with gold:
Golden angels down below:
There were little straw wreaths hanging on each of the fountainheads - don't know why:
I assumed it was Jesus at the top - isn't it always? But no! When we zoomed in on the photo, the breasts were a dead giveaway: Must be Mary.
There were security gates on either side of the building so you could only see the front and enter at the door, but I shot this picture of the side, through the security gate:
You really can see the spires from all sorts of places, which makes it easy if you get lost!
no idea who that guy is!

To the left of the cathedral was this magnificent building - we don't know what it is, but we loved the look of it:

It had this clock on the wall - I love the textures and colors:
The area around this church does seem to be dominated by religious life. We were eating pizza our first night, and a monk dashed into a nearby door, with his little monk hood flapping behind him and his rope belt swaying around his waist. Blurry nuns dash around -

And I'm probably going to burn in hell for this, because the guy was probably a famous and important priest or something, but I saw this in a window of what seems to be a church store, and I thought it was a drawing of the Joker, from Batman.
We walked through a big park, through what seemed to be a gerontology fair. The first giveaway was all the old people, and the second was some word on a sign that seemed to have gerontol in it. Here we have dancing with the oldies: The Anitas!
Zagreb has a really great market, too - flowers, produce, fish, bakeries, meat, honey and olive oil, handmade crafts, the whole market 9 yards. It's called the Dolac fruit & vegetable market, and it's been going on since the 1930s.

We bought some grapes to go with our dried figs
Fish (a whole large building full of fish stalls!)
Meat. In a country that loves meat so much, you'd expect to find butchers.
Bakeries (but hey, the bread was surprisingly bland and uninteresting around Croatia!)
There's a lot of live music around the Josipa Jelacica square (Trg Josipa Jelacica, they call it). There were always guys playing guitars of some kind, usually an accordion player, and always someone on some kind of bagpipe. I wanted to surreptitiously take a photo of this guy, but he turned and posed for me. It was kind of cute.
We also saw the Stone Gate, the eastern gate to medieval Gradec Town. According to legend, there was a big fire in 1730 that destroyed every part of the wooden gate except for the painting of the Virgin and Child. People believe that the painting possesses magical powers and come regularly to pray before it, light candles, and leave flowers. Square stone slabs are engraved with thanks and praise to the Virgin.
We saw St Mark's Church - the roof looked like a lego design to me, but Lonely Planet calls it "one of Zagreb's most emblematic buildings." The roof was constructed in 1880, and the tiles depict the medieval coat of arms of Croatia, Dalmatia, and Slavonia.
It was very sunny that day.
We saw another church, the Jesuit Church of St Catherine, I think, that featured this artwork above the door:

creepy! cut-off arms, really?
And the fisherman being saved, as he always is:
In the same area is the sabor, the Parliament of Croatia:
From that balcony, Croatian independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire
was declared in 1918.

We walked through this pathway of chestnut trees; the wind was blowing chestnuts
down like hail, so we didn't stay long. But isn't it beautiful?
And finally, Trg Josipa Jelacica - Zagreb's main orientation point and the geographic heart of the city. Our hotel looked over this great square. This is where people in Zagreb arrange to meet. The square is named for Ban Jelacic, the 19th century governor who led Croatian troops into an unsuccessful battle with Hungary in the hope of winning more autonomy. The statue stood in the square from 1866-1947, when Tito ordered its removal because it was linked too closely with Croatian nationalism. It was returned to the square in 1990.
Definitely click this one to see the whole thing!
We had gorgeous, gorgeous weather our whole vacation. The morning we left, it was cold and rainy, and the square was empty, with the exception of these umbrellaed stands that appeared overnight - no idea what they're for.
More to come, filling in spaces, but this is it for now. The entire set of photos can be found here. I also have another summary post to come.

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