It’s certainly worth checking out religious Zagreb but you will spend most of your time – and have the most fun – in the secular part, which is now pretty much the entire town. Look for The Bloody Bridge. It is an alley connecting Radićeva with Tkalčićeva. It is definitely a highlight of a visit to Zagreb. In the past, there was a creek separating church-controlled Kaptol from the secular settlement of Gradec. Everything on the east side of the creek belonged to Kaptol and everything on the west side to Gradec. The bridge over the creek was the site of many battles between the opposing sides.
The bridge was torn down in 1899 and the creek was paved over creating the lively commercial Tkalčićeva street. No doubt the entrepreneurial ventures have changed over the decades but it is still full of small boutiques, cafes, restaurants and bars worthy of repeat visits.
Close to Tkalčićeva is the Dolac Market. It is an open air food market and will remind you that you
are in the Mediterranean. Even if you don’t have any facilities to cook anything, you can buy luscious fruit that has the full flavour of the sunshine it has received. If you’d like a souvenir you can take home, consider olive oil.
You can also wander up the hill via Radićeva. You will pass a statue of St George after he has slayed the dragon and then you will come to the Stone Gate whereby you can enter the Upper Town. It was built in the Middle Ages and there is a small chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary who is the patron saint of Zagreb. Kamenita ulica (“Stone Street”) is the site of the oldest pharmacy in Zagreb, founded in 1355 and still in business.
While your journey in this part of Zagreb is almost exclusively about history, do check out The Museum of Broken Relationships. It is small but they have done a fantastic job with the curation. There are all sorts of poignant stories told via objects and correspondence. There is nothing like it anywhere else in the world.
Opatička is a pleasant stroll past markers of Zagreb’s history. From there you can head to St Mark’s Square, site of the picturesque St.
Mark’s Church. St Mark’s Square was the main square of the settlement of Gradec and the heart of the secular Upper Town. St. Mark’s Church was built in the 13th century. Over the centuries additional details were added in different styles, including the distinctive roof tiles showcasing the coat of arms of the Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Dalmatia and Slavonia (added in the late 19th century).
There is also a beautiful baroque church on St. Catherine’s Square. St. Catherine’s Church was built by the Jesuits in the first half of the 17th century. Be sure to check out the view over Zagreb from behind the church.
If you want a break from climbing hills you can wander the Strossmayer Promenade. It is a tree-lined path with beautiful vistas of the city below. Also look out for Lotrščak Tower. It is the only
preserved mediaeval tower from the 13th century fortifications. It is famous for its cannon, which is fired every day at noon.
From there you can head down to Ban Jelačić Square. This is the main square of modern Zagreb and you will likely pass through it several times. It has been the city’s commercial centre since 1641. If you are ambitious you can walk. It’s downhill now! You can also take the 66 metre long funicular that connects the Upper Town and Lower Town, the shortest passenger cable railway in the world. Of course, if you walk, you can indulge in a treat in one of the myriad cafes around the square without guilt 😉