It is a shame, for the local economy at least, that most tourists arriving in Croatia via Zagreb skip the capital altogether and head straight for the beautiful Dalmatian coast. Zagreb is arguably not as glamorous as Split nor as beautiful as Dubrovnik, but it does have some rather charming sights of its own for visitors to enjoy.
Zagreb is fiercely proud of its Croatian identity and hosts several national museums that celebrate the country’s contribution to art and culture. One fascinating museum is the Croatian Naïve Art Museum, showcasing hundreds of pieces of work by celebrated Croatian artists. This simplistic, almost child-like style of painting was once very popular in the country, often depicting life in rural Croatia.
Another fabulous museum found in Zagreb is the unique Museum of Broken Relationships. People worldwide are invited to share their stories about heartache with the museum and to contribute an artefact that symbolises their lose. Far from being morbid, the collection of objects and stories on display in the handful of small rooms making up the museum, is simply delightful revealing a great deal about our insatiable desire to love and be loved. Some of the stories are incredibly moving, some are a little disturbing and most are intended to make one laugh with the contributor who is clearly dealing with his/her lose with a reasonable amount of dignity. Only the most cold-hearted visitor will leave this museum without feeling moved by it in some way.
Most of the destinations mentioned here and in a previous post on Zagreb’s sights are located in Gradec, the Upper Town of the city. Gradec sits on top of Gornji Grad, a hill that is not terribly high but is rather steep. The easiest way to travel between the Upper and Lower Town areas is via the Zagreb Funicular. It is not too much of an effort – unless one is inflicted with bad knees, lack of stamina or carrying a lot of shopping – to climb the steps running alongside the funicular up to Gornji Grad, and with less than seventy metres of track, the Zagreb Funicular is one of the shortest in the world. Yet, regardless of how able (or lazy) one is, who can resist the charm of a nineteenth century funicular?
The Lotrščak Tower was originally built in the thirteenth century to protect the southern gate of the city. It now exhibits local art work and keeps time for the city, firing a cannon from the top floor every day at precisely noon.
Apart from its historical interest, and its rather narrow series of ladders to get to the upper floors of the building, Lotrščak Tower also offers some of the most stunning panoramic views across Zagreb.
The Croatian Naïve Art Museum is found in the restaurant district along Tkalčićeva. More about the museum, its opening times and the naïve art movement can be found on the museum’s official website here.
The original Museum of Broken Relationships is found along Cirilometodska Ulica between St Mark’s Church and Lotrščak Tower. Opening times, galleries and details on how you too can contribute your own story of heartbreak to the museum can be found here.
A single ride on the Zagreb Funicular (2014) costs 4 Croatian kuna (around 0.50€/30pence) regardless of the passenger’s age. Excess baggage will cost an extra 4 kuna. The funicular operates every ten minutes, Monday to Sunday between 0630 and 2200. Tickets can be bought from either station, and local travelcards can also be used to cover the cost of the ride.
The Lotrščak Tower is open daily from 9am until 9pm. Admission is just a few Croatian kuna. Try to reach the top before sundown to capture the best photo opportunities, and preferably not just before noon as that cannon is terribly loud when it goes off.
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