History of Zagreb
Zagreb is known for many things: it has many museums, lots of famous buildings, an incredible food scene, and more. But what about the history of Zagreb? How did it come to be the capital city, as well as the largest city of Croatia?
Where it All Began
The history of Zagreb dates all the way back to the 11th century when two medieval Hungarian settlements were established in the area. One was called Gradec, and the other was called Kaptol. The two settlements had undergone different rulings throughout history, but ended up joining together in the 19th century.
As the two towns combined, the city rapidly expanded and town squares and other nowadays recognizable public buildings began to form. The expansion continued through some of the 20th century, along the Sava River to the south and Medvednica Hill to the north.
Famous Historical Buildings
Many buildings throughout the city play an important role in the history of Zagreb. Some are famous landmarks, while others may blend in with the city’s eclectic collection of historic surroundings. Below are just a few of the famous historical buildings that can be found in Zagreb.
- Zagreb Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary – The cathedral dates back to the 11th century, when what is now known as Zagreb first became inhabited. The building has stood up to a lot throughout history, being damaged during an attack and fire in the 13th century. However, the most severe damage to the structure took place during an earthquake in the 19th century. Following a major restoration in a Neo-Gothic style, Zagreb Cathedral does not quite represent its original appearance. Despite its visual changes, the building remains a recognizable staple in Zagrebs city center. Consisting of twin spires measuring 354 feet high, this cathedral holds the title of one of the tallest buildings in Croatia.
- Art Pavilion – The Art Pavilion is hard to miss on a walk through Zagreb. The bright yellow structure holds the accolade of being the only building that was specifically built for big exhibitions to be held in the Slavic south. It is also the oldest exhibition hall and gallery in Southeast Europe. The Art Pavilion hosts an array of exhibitors from solo artists to group displays. Art from any period and style can be displayed in the pavilion. It also represents work by both foreign and Croatian artists.
- Lotrščak Tower – Located in the part of Zagreb that used to be called Gradec, Lotrščak Tower still stands tall. The tower’s name comes from a Latin word that refers to a bell that hung in the tower and signaled when the town gates would close to protect the area each evening. There was one point in history where the tower was leased to the residents in the town for upkeep since local authorities could not afford to maintain it. Lotrščak Tower now remains evidence of the old town and currently contains art, a gift shop, and a museum. Visitors can also climb to the top of the tower for some amazing views over Zagreb.
- Saint Mark’s Church – This 13th-century church is one of the city’s most iconic structures. Saint Mark’s Church is among the oldest buildings in Zagreb, with the colorful and unique roof being added in 1880. The roof tiles are arranged to show Slavonia and Dalmatia’s medieval coat of arm’s on the left, and the emblem of Zagreb on the right. Inside the church, visitors can see sculptures, a ceiling decorated with gold leaflets, and an organ that has only recently been installed.
Explore the history of Zagreb on one of our many tours that visits the wonderful city, such as the Croatian Charms Tour, or add this stop to your own custom itinerary. Be sure to contact us today to get started on planning your dream vacation!