Walking Through Time: Historical Sites to Visit in Zagreb

For this topic, let’s start on the main square – Ban Josip Jelacic Square.

You don’t have to be a genius to know that the main squares of all the cities are one of their oldest parts. Everything is the same in the case of Zagreb, also.

The main square in Zagreb is named after Ban Josip Jelacic, a Croatian nobleman, and Ban of Croatia between 1848 and 1859. You can see his statue, located just in the middle of the square. It was installed in 1866.

Square is surrounded by beautiful palaces and buildings, mostly built in the 19th century.

The story about this square began in 1641 when a new marketplace was created on a plain below Gradec (today known as the Upper Town). The square was initially called Manduševac (today, the fountain on the square is named Manduševac) and later Harmica.

The next location is Gradec (also known as Upper Town, Croatian Gornji grad). Today, everyone calls this place Upper Town (Gornji grad), but in the past, it was known as Gradec.

The Upper Town is located on a small hill surrounded by the walls. Back in the day, Gradec was constantly at war with their neighbors from the east – Kaptol.

Since Upper Town is the oldest part of the city, I will mention only two beautiful sites from up there (because there are many interesting spots, but I’ll leave those for a more detailed article about the Upper Town). The first is one of my favorites, the Lotršcak Tower. The Lotrščak Tower dates back to the 13th century, and it was built to guard the southern gate of the Gradec town wall. Today, you can climb up there and have a unique 360 degrees view of the city.

After the Lotrščak Tower, we’re heading a bit north.

The next landmark is St. Mark’s church, located in the middle of St. Mark’s Square. You have the Croatian government building on its west side, and on its east side, you can see the Croatian parliament building.

This landmark’s most well-known part is its roof – it was constructed in 1882 by Friedrich Schmidt and Hermann Bolle. Up there, you can see the medieval coat of arms of Croatia, Dalmatia, and Slavonia on the left side and the emblem of Zagreb on the right.

Oh yes, the church was built in the 13th century and is one of Zagreb’s oldest architectural monuments.

After one church, we’re heading to the largest – to the Zagreb Cathedral, located on the “enemy hill” called Kaptol. Zagreb Cathedral has existed since the 11th century, but today’s Cathedral doesn’t represent the original architecture.

The first Cathedral was damaged during the Tatar attack and a fire in the 13th century. Finally, it was severely damaged by the 1880 earthquake and was restored in the Neo-Gothic style by Hermann Bollé, the Cathedral you see today.

The Cathedral was 108 meters tall, but today it is less since it was heavily damaged in the 5.5 earthquake that hit Zagreb in March 2020. The top of the south tower collapsed during the earthquake, and the top of the north tower was removed a couple of weeks later.

And, for the last landmark for today, we’re heading to the Medvednica Mountain to visit the Medvedgrad Fortress. The Medvedgrad Fortress is located on the south side of the Medvednica mountain. It is a medieval fortress built between 1249 and 1254 after the Mongol invasion in 1242, which destroyed Zagreb.

The fortress has a beautiful view of the city since it is 500 meters above sea level. Parts of Medvedgrad castle have been reconstructed, along with the octagonal chapel of St. Philip and Jacob and the south defensive tower. At present, historical festivals and knight tournaments take place in the castle.

I could write for hours about this topic, but let’s leave it here for now.

Be sure to check this website more often so you can take advantage of my tips for visiting and enjoying Zagreb!

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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