Discover Zagreb’s Upper Town: A Personal Historic Journey

I often wander through the enchanting streets of Zagreb, a city divided into the Lower and Upper Towns, each brimming with history. Today, let me take you on a journey through the Upper Town, or Gornji Grad, the historic heart of Zagreb, beloved by tourists and locals alike.

I remember strolling through Gornji Grad, which, since medieval times, formed the central urban area of Zagreb along with Kaptol. The main square, St. Mark’s Square, always captivates me. Once a bustling marketplace, it now serves as the political heartbeat of Croatia, housing the Croatian Parliament, Government, and City Assembly buildings.

Standing proudly in the square is St. Mark’s Church, a sight to behold with its origins in the 14th century. I’ve always been fascinated by its transformation from a Gothic masterpiece to a splendid Neo-Gothic structure. The southern portal, a gem of Gothic sculpture influenced by Prague’s Parler workshop, never fails to impress me.

The church’s roof, adorned with the historical coats of arms of Croatia and Zagreb, harkens back to the 19th century, a testament to the architectural genius of Hermann Bollé and Friedrich von Schmidt. Its bell tower, dating back to the Baroque era, stands as a reminder of its 1841 renovation.

The Baroque Church of St. Catherine catches my eye as I wander further. Built between 1620 and 1632, it’s considered the first Baroque building in continental Croatia. Inside, the stunning stuccowork by Antonio Quadrio and the illusionistic altar painting by Slovenian painter Krištof Andrej Jelovšek transport me back in time.

Adjacent to St. Catherine’s Church lies the former Jesuit monastery, a 17th-century marvel, now home to the Klovićevi Dvori gallery, a hub for exquisite art exhibitions. Nearby, the former monastery of St. Clare, now the Zagreb City Museum, fascinates me with its painted facades, a reminder of its once cloistered past.

A bit further, in Ćirilometodskoj Street, stands the Greek Catholic Co-cathedral of Saints Cyril and Methodius. Rebuilt by Hermann Bolle after an 1880 earthquake, its distinctive Neo-Byzantine style and impressive oak iconostasis, crafted by the Zagreb Craft School, never cease to amaze me.

My heart always skips a beat when I see the baroque Vojković Palace in Matoševa Street. Its Mariatheresian Baroque style and ornate facade featuring shell motifs are a sight to behold. Today, it houses the Croatian History Museum, a treasure trove of the past.

Other notable buildings include the Raffay Palace, now the Croatian Museum of Naïve Art, and the famous Zrinski family house. The Juršić, Rauch-Sermage, and Bužan palaces in Opatička Street, especially the latter, crafted by Zagreb’s renowned Baroque architect Matija Leonhart, always draw my attention.

I often reflect on the rich interiors of the former Government Department for Worship and Education in Opatička 10, especially its lavish Golden Hall and the exquisite Neo-Baroque wrought iron fence by Hermann Bollé and the Zagreb Craft School.

As I conclude my walk, I’m always drawn to the remnants of the Renaissance house at the corner of Mesnička and V. Lisinski, and the renowned pharmacy in Kamenita 9, a testament to Zagreb’s architectural heritage. Finally, the Lotrščak Tower, a famous vantage point offering breathtaking views of the Lower Town, and the nearby Strossmayer Promenade and funicular, connecting the Upper and Lower Towns, provide a perfect end to my journey through Zagreb’s Upper Town, a place of historical wonder and architectural marvels.

Hi! My name is Ivan, and I'm an author of discoverzagreb.com. I have been photographing and exploring Zagreb for more than 15 years, and if you want to know more about me and discoverzagreb.com, read the Introduction articles by clicking here.

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