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Medieval Free Royal Towns

Medieval Free Royal Towns

“If you were to lose all your freedoms tomorrow, what exactly would you lose? “

What can we learn from an old document from 1242. called the Golden Bull / Zlatna bula of Gradec, the medieval Zagreb community?
Today, we easily take for granted the freedoms we have, as if they fell from the sky! In fact, everything we have today is the result of a very long development. No freedom goes without obligations and especially not without responsibility, but we are forgetting it today. And I am constantly amazed by my tourists, whom I regularly ask this question from the title, at the entrance to Gradec, that is, in front of the Stone Gate of the Zagreb Upper Town.
How do we (guides) interpret our heritage? I am personally convinced that every material heritage hides the stories and truths about the intangible heritage. During sightseeing, I always encourage discussions and an exchange of opinions and knowledge. When I talk during the walk, I try to do it more as an introduction to a conversation, to a debate. So, in front of the Stone Gate, I develop my first presentation of medieval Gradec (Zagreb Upper Town) based on several facts, hoping to hear questions from my guests or a new discussion 🙂
When asked „If you were to lose all your freedoms tomorrow, what exactly would you lose?” most people can’t answer when unprepared! Then, after some thinking, the vast majority says: free speech! But, is the freedom of speech really the greatest and most important freedom? I’m afraid today we call it freedom to avoid being held responsible for all kinds of slander and gossip!

Back to the Middle Ages and the freedoms of Zagreb Gradec!

Gradec (Zagreb’s Upper Town) received its freedoms in 1242. And as it is written in the introductory part of the document called the Golden Bull: “These are, therefore, the rights and freedoms of citizens who live and dwell on the before mentioned Hill, which they themselves wrote and we approved” …
Zagreb City Muesum gives a link to the transcript in Croatian here, the original is in Latin:

„The free royal town of Gradec, on the Zagreb hill“ received certain liberties or freedoms and rights that are just one link in the chain of the development of today’s freedoms. This document i.e. freedoms and rights did not fall from the sky! Even in dark Middle Ages there was a development, there was a handing over a relay baton from one point to the next. In the process something was lost and something was gained. This is the development process – learning from each other, using various situations, trade and fairs, war conquests, pilgrimages, etc. to pass on the information and knowledge and to acquire new ones. Many cities that meant something in the Middle Ages are forgotten today.
Zlatna bula 1242. signed by the king Bela IV, photo form Wikipedia, Neoneo13 – Croatian State Archive, Public Domain,

We have always been moving towards globalization, but this movement has been so slow that it has not been noticeable during a single human life. And it accelerated so much in the 20th century that we witnessed great leaps during one human life! Today, with the deliberate neglect of education, we do not realize how much as a humans we had to work and create to have today’s level of democracy and freedoms.

What freedom catches your eye from the Golden Bull?

We, guides, interpreters, are constantly educated, and every one of us will interpret the Golden Bull differently, depending on which freedoms are closer to our hearts. My attention is drawn to the fact that Gradec was a well-organized community that cared about individuals being free to work, and on the other hand, cared of their community and their city as a group, sometimes sacrificing some personal freedoms.

However, we should take great care that measures that we witness today during the Covid-19 crisis are not abused, we have seen that in the past. Professional and qualified journalism would come in handy here!
The freedom of speech that is constantly brought up by my clients, is it really the fundamental freedom? Personally, I do not think so. The freedom of choice would be for me a freedom of higher priority. That was also the most important freedom given to the citizens of Gradec, Zagreb’s Upper Town in the 13th century.

Take a Zagreb Food Tour Quiz!

Take a Zagreb Food Tour Quiz!

Interested in our Zagreb Food Tour? Take this quiz as an introduction to the topic of food and eating habits in Zagreb and Croatia!

Facts vs Fiction

Facts vs Fiction

You, a traveler, should ask yourself what you prefer more: real life stories based on facts or fairy tales and fantasy. There is no good or bad answer here. It is a fact that we accept new information more easily through stories, real or made up. How far should we go in interpreting the heritage without compromising facts and real life behind it?

And does it event matter?

Look at the pictures that we posted two weeks ago with a question – what do you think these carvings are?

Well, these are the walls in the basement of Muzej Slavonija in Osijek, Croatia. These carvings have to be examined yet, but what we do know is that they were made mostly by prisoners of war.

Did your perception change once you learned the facts?

Now, look at the “Zagreb Tunnel” and share your impression with us. Is it a medieval tunnel, is it just a corridor?

What speaks to you more: the left tunnel or the right tunnel?

Whatever you chose, come and follow the stories of people who lived in Zagreb and who created our history.
Come to our Zagreb around the WWII tour to learn real life stories, other people’s experiences that influenced the post WWII world so much, that, yes, we can say that we live better today than we would have lived 70 or more years ago.

You, a traveler want to discover new cultures, people and traditions. We, as guides, will make our best to interpret the heritage. The process between the three of us is interesting! (1. you, 2. we, 3. What do you think is under “3”). In between is a message transferred by a story.

See you soon in Zagreb, Croatia.
Best of Zagreb guides and tours

December Food Tour with Best of Zagreb

December Food Tour with Best of Zagreb

cropped-BoZ3-Food.png   DECEMBER FOOD TOUR


 The DECEMBER FOOD TOUR offers a visit and tasting around the Zagreb Advent Fair! After the tour, you will be able to make a better choice of your own Advent Fair location in Zagreb.

This Food Tour includes the visit to the Farmer’s market Dolac and then the Advent Fair with two drinks and four tastings at chosen locations.

Starts December 5th – 11.30 am  – 240,00 Kunas (32 EUR) per person for a minimum of 4 people. Contact us at or fill the Contact form

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Who is Zagorka?

Who is Zagorka?

Dolac Market
The view from Zagorka’s house arrest! Zagorka, apartment Dolac market

Who is Marija Jurić Zagorka?

The famous journalist and author Marija Jurić Zagorka was born in 1873 and died in 1957. She is the first woman journalist in Croatia, and in her 84 years, she was a journalist, the most popular novelist, a fighter and activist for women’s and civil rights, a promoter of Croatian and Zagreb culture. She lived in different places in the Lower Town, worked in the Upper Town and in the Lower Town, researched and wrote extensively about the history of Zagreb and Croatia, criticized and analyzed the social, political and cultural scene from 1895 until her death in her apartment on Dolac market in 1957.

Her life and activity mark nearly every street of the historical part of Zagreb.

Fighting for women’s and human rights all her life, Zagorka ended up confined inside her apartment on Dolac market No 8 after WWII. Follow in the footsteps of the most famous Zagreb and Croatian journalist and author, Marija Jurić Zagorka.

Price per person 175 Kunas (25 EUR), minimum 2 people (350 Kunas, around 50 EUR)

For groups of more than 5 people : 150 Kunas per person.

Groups of more than 12 : on request.

Book your local guide at The walk lasts around 2,5 h. Available in English, French and Russian.

See you soon in Zagreb,


Zagorka working
Zagorka, the Journal of the Association of Maria Jurić Zagorka


Visit Zagreb now!

Visit Zagreb now!

Late March and Easter in Zagreb:
book your local guide now at info @

Official calendars say spring starts on March 21st, but old calendars say that spring starts on St. Joseph’s day, March 19th. Others insist on later dates, St. George’s on April 23rd.
Next week is the Holy Week – the week before Easter. If in Croatia Easter is Uskrs or Vazam. Croatians are predominantly Roman Catholics and Easter is their most important holiday. The ties with Vatican are long (since the 9th century) and strong. But let’s think back a little and remind ourselves how the mobility of Easter enabled this Christian holiday to be perfectly imbedded in the spring festivities of the awakening of nature. To be imbedded into very old, archaic beliefs.
Check the walks I offer in Zagreb in :

For many, Easter starts much earlier, at the end of the Carnival season, on Ash Wednesday. During Lent many people commit to fasting, as well as giving up certain luxuries. Since the beginning of culture this was a difficult and long period of forced fasting as winter was ending and nature did not give yet its new fruits. The real purpose of the Christian custom was lost during the 20th century, giving up to trendy seasonal cleansing to prepare the body for the warmer season and for summer. We understand the word ‘sacrifice’ differently today.

But who cares what season we are in, when we have all nature’s fruits and gifts all year in the supermarkets!
This is why our farmer’s markets are so important. There we can see the seasons change, and one after the other, new, young and fresh spring fruits and vegetables appear on the markets around the town.

When visiting Zagreb and Croatia – you have a possibility to get to know a new culture. Check my Culture & History Walk at :

The Easter table (Easter Sunday) makes us happy! For whatever reason you were fasting at the end of winter, enjoy now the spring veggies, fruits and traditional cakes!
These include spring onions, ham and hard-boiled eggs with horseradish and radishes for breakfast. It also includes different kind of meat – remember – traditionally people were fasting for forty days, so the Easter lunch would and should usually include meat. Meat is served with spring vegetables, lettuce, and all kinds of fresh season greens.


Try the Easy and Simple Zagreb Food Tour – morning walk (starting before noon)  possible every day if it’s not a holiday 🙂 :

Your local guide,

Zagreb around World War II

Zagreb around World War II

Zagreb around World War II tour gives answers to frequently asked questions about the ex-Yugoslavia. And there were two Yugoslavias in the 20th century. The first one before WWII and the second one after the war.

In between during the Second World War stands the short period of the Independent State of Croatia as the marionette country under the German, and partially Italian rule on the coast.

During the nineteen thirties Zagreb, the capital of Croatia was the industrial, business, financial and cultural center of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Zagreb was developing fast in those days especially to the east of the historical center where we can still see the result of the urban planning of that period.

By dimensions a small town but with high living standards and modern architecture of the Zagreb architectural school. The characteristics of that school is functionalism and it gave to this district a cold and hermetic look.

The political situation before the Second World War was tough in Croatia. The dictatorship of the Serbian political establishment provoked the discontent among the people of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. Political parties were banned, sending them to illegal and underground activity.

Everyone felt that hard times are coming. It was obvious that Germany was emerging as a military force without competition in Europe at the end of the nineteen thirties. France and United Kingdom were weak. People had a suspicious attitude towards Chamberlain’s politics to Hitler and kids were joking with Chamberlain’s name pronouncing it “J’aime Berlin” as describes prof. Flaker in his memoires.

In 1941, at the beginning of the war in Croatia Tito was still in Zagreb. Soon he had to leave, because every police officer knew his face. Do you know how he tried to cover up during his stays in Zagreb? Send us your answer to and if you got it right, you will receive a small gift on your day of the tour!

This is just a short introduction, for the rest of the story join the Zagreb around World War II Tour!

Maria Ujević Galetović "Targets"
Maria Ujević Galetović “Targets”

Zagreb Walking Tours

Zagreb Walking Tours

Best of Zagreb’s walking and sightseeing tours for a real Zagreb experience

Zagreb, the capital of Croatia

Central Europe – Mediterranean Europe – South-East Europe

We organize privately guided tours daily on request and periodically we offer open group tours. Follow us through our website or social networks and book your sightseeing tour with us at info at bestofzagreb . com

Povijest Hrvata, photo Nataša Novak
Zagreb, Croatia, Ivan Meštrović The History of the Croats

Culture, History & Arts

Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, is a cultural and artistic center of the region. We love to stroll the old streets and courtyards of Gradec (the Upper Town), drink coffee or beer in Tkalciceva Street, buy the produce on farmer’s markets, chat with friends on the Flower Square and comment the recent cultural and social events. Take this guided culture & history walking tour and meet the city with your local guide. Depending on the day of your arrival and sightseeing we can make some changes to the itinerary.

Prices for privately guided tours starting from The Tomislav Square (in front of the main railway station):

                                                   1-3 people: 350Kunas (48 EUR) total price

                                                    4 -8: 116 Kunas per person (around 16 EUR)

 This walking tour lasts 2,5 to 3  hours. On request we can include a visit of one museum or gallery and a short coffee break in one of the charming cafes of the historical center or a wine tasting.

The Upper Town has seven museums, all very popular among the citizens of Zagreb and all top museums in their fields.

  • We recommend to visit The Atelier Mestrovic. The artist’s family house is the location of his museum, a charming place in Mletacka St.
  • The Museum of Naive Art with colorful canvases stands beside the Greek-catholic church.
  • Few steps to the south, on the corner is the immensely popular Museum of Broken Relationships.
  • Next to the beautiful St. Catherine’s Church there is a Klovic Gallery – recently with extraordinary guest exhibitions!

Don’t miss the popular and beautiful spots in the Lower Town if you are into discovering art and culture:

  • the Modern Gallery with a rich collection of Croatian artists throughout history,
  • the Mimara Museum with a choice of top international classical art, and
  • the Home of the Croatian Association of Artist located in the Mestrovic Pavilion, few minutes walk from the Zrinjevac Park
  • the MSU or the Museum of Contemporary Art in New Zagreb.

If interested in a cultural and historical tour of contact us at info (at) bestofzagreb . com


s-panorama 3 (2)
13th century Stone Gate, the entrance to Gradec, the Upper Town

Sightseeing and tasting

The obligatory stop – if visiting before noon is of course the Dolac farmer’s market. The location of the farmer’s market changed several times, but the way we buy our goods here in this part of Europe, doesn’t change.If you are into it, we can give you a recipe for a traditional Zagreb meal, help you buy the ingredients on the  Market and then you can try to make them yourself in your apartment.

By visiting the Dolac market you can also feel and experience the Croatian culture: how do we behave on the farmers market? Are we loud or disciplined and organized while buying goods?

A cup of coffee and a taste of some Zagreb specialty or a real wine tasting, somewhere near the center? We are very proud of the quality of Croatian wines, cheese, olive oil..

This tour should be booked in advance, and predict at least three hours, or more.  If the “tasting the specialties tour” is what interests you, please contact us at info (at) bestofzagreb . com

See the program in our Easy & Simple Food Tour of Zagreb.

If you would like an organized tasting, please contact me for details.

Stairs around the Upper Town

Discovering Zagreb

How to discover a new destination? The best way to do it is by doing a guided tour – through your guide (a local) you can meet other locals on your way through Zagreb. Guided tours are very popular and we promote them because good information is hard to find. The dynamics of the tour can be arranged, whether you prefer to walk around (so you don’t miss the attractions) or to listen to the story of Zagreb.

Regenerate in Zumberak

Regenerate in Zumberak

Relax & recharge your batteries for three days on the family estate Klanfar in Žumberak

DURATION: THREE DAYS (Two overnights)

STARTING POINT: the place of your arrival in Zagreb (On request: the pick up can be arranged from the place of your arrival in Croatia)

WHEN: 2015 / 2016


This tour is offered through our website and our travel agency Netragom.

Read the presentation of Zumberak Mountain in our blog section.

Žumberak hills are one of the regions of continental Croatia that we would like to promote for your holidays. For the Zagrebians it’s one of the most popular hiking and weekend destinations, and for foreign travellers it’s a popular spot to stay for several days or even weeks. Žumberak is full of marked hiking trails, dense forest, hidden streams and waterfalls.

The price for 2-3 persons: 1512 Kunas (199 EUR) per person
The price of 4-8 persons: 1345 Kunas (177 EUR) per person

Book by e-mail at info (at) or through the contact form below!

We suggest the following program:

1st day: Introduction, presentation

After an organized transfer to Zumberak, you will be greeted with a smile of course, but also with a traditional snack of the Žumberak region and grown by the family Klanfar. Through the stories and tastes of Žumberak you will have your first introduction of the region. Then you will head to the field – the first will be more theory than practice, more presentation of the produce, of sustainable development and management. At dinner you will enjoy the tastes of the traditional Žumberak and spend the night in the rooms of the family estate Klanfar.

2nd day: Education/Learning

After a good night sleep and the home made breakfast you will be ready for you second day in Žumberak. You will spend your second day mostly on the field to see and learn about organic production, transplantation, weeding, harvesting and other activities in the field that are the basics of the sustainable farming. For lunch we will visit the ponds Vrabac where you will enjoy in the specialties of the freshly caught trout. After lunch we continue with our activities in filed, and in the evening you will enjoy the freshly picked produce for dinner.

3rd day: Relaxation

After breakfast we will present the products of Žumberak and the region. You will have a free day for walks or hiking or just relaxing (bowling filed is near the house). For lunch we will offer you a delicacy of the Žumberak region. Your stay in Žumberak and the Klanfar family estate ends after lunch, but we hope to see you back soon.

Bonus! We offer you a guided sightseeing tour of Zagreb on the first or last day if you book this tour.

The above mentioned prices include:
Transfer from Zagreb to Zumberak (a sightseeing tour of Zagreb is possible before we head to Zumberak)
the 1st day: presentation, dinner and overnight,
2nd day: breakfast, dinner and a program at the family estate Klanfar, the lunch in the restaurant Vrabac,
the 3rd day: breakfast, lunch and a short program at the family estate Klanfar, tasting of specialties of the Klanfar family.
Transfer from the family estate back to Zagreb (airport, railway station or other address in Zagreb, and sightseeing tour of Zagreb if you haven’t done it on arrival).

The price does not include:
Drinks during you stay at the family estate Klanfar neither in the restaurant Vrabac.

Single travelers or groups of more than 8 people – please contact us by e-mail for an offer.


NOTICE: if you have a problem while driving up and down the hills and on serpentines, you should consider taking a medication before the trip.

By paying to the agency Netragom the sum mentioned in our detailed offer you recognize you have read and accepted the General terms and conditions and the Cancellation policy that we send to every customer upon request. We strongly recommend to take a full coverage of your travel through a Travel Insurance Package. Contact us if interested in booking with us.

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Zumberak Mountain

Zumberak Mountain

Popular destinations around Zagreb – Žumberak

One of the most popular destinations among the citizens of Zagreb for one day – full day trip are the Žumberak-Samobor hills. The natural beauty of the hills and peaks like Okić (495 m) south of Samobor, Oštrc (753 m) and Japetić (871) are on regular itineraries of Zagrebian mountaineers. The central point of the region is a small town of Samobor. Now, the Samobor hills and Plesivica are populated enough, with well-known wine roads and tourist itineraries. We offer hear a discovery and a visit to the central part of the Žumberak Mountain filled with dense forests, hidden streams, little picturesque villages and family farms.

Žumberak Mountain is the central part of the Žumberak-Samobor hills.

Zumberak Mountain is one of the least populated areas in Croatia, with a constant emigration during the last one hundred years. But this is not the downside, this is actually its best comparative advantage! And although the emigration left the region nearly abandoned, the Žumberak Mountain with the Samobor hills and Plešivica are all three the most popular excursion destinations of the Zagrebians.


Here you can read a short presentation of the Žumberak Mountain written by the local resident, M. Goran Klanfar.

The massif of Žumberak follows the Croatian – Slovenian border. It’s located in the western part of central Croatia and belongs mostly to the Zagreb County. The biggest part of Žumberak massif consists of the Žumberak Mountain spreading 40 km NE-SW. In the North the steep slope ends in the Krka valley, in the South a mild slope ends in the Karlovačko pokuplje, in the East it descends in mild slopes to the Sava valley and in the West it passes into the Kočevska plateau. The highest peak of Žumberak Sv. Gera (1181 m) is in the West.

The massif of Žumberak has the characteristics of three different regions: sub-alpine, Pannonian and Mediterranean which is manifested in the flora, fauna and relief. From the geological point of view there are karst and alpine terrains.

Karst terrain is predominant in most part of the central Žumberak Mountain and is composed of carbonate rocks – the tufa rocks that was extracted from the streams to be used as a building material for houses and farm buildings. This was the most popular building material in the central Žumberak region between Sošice and Gornja Vas, and partially in the Samobor part of Žumberak Mountain.

The Alpine terrain is found in the northern part of Žumberak (Samobor part of the Žumberak massif) and its characteristic is the dolomite rocks and indented relief.

Archeological remains discovered in Žumberak indicate that there was a mining activity in the area (copper, iron, lead). Today the silica sand mining is predominant for the production of glass and building stone.



Žumberak spreads through three climate regions: continental, alpine and Mediterranean. Those influences overlap so in Žumberak you can find plants from the Mediterranean area like oregano and St. John’s Wort, plants from the alpine area like thyme – the citrus variety which usually grows above 800 m above sea level in the Alps, and the plants typical for the continental Croatia: hellebore, snowdrop and 30 types of orchid.


It’s not known when the pillar was built, but it’s probably from the 17th century when New Town of Žumberak (Novi Grad Žumberak) was built. The name “pilaster” just like the kaikavian dialect variety of the word – Pil (Croatian Zagorje, Međimurje) means the same thing – column – and in particular church column or saint’s column.


These types of constructions are linked to the Alps, Slovenia to Carinthia and East Tirol. The pillar in Žumberak is the easternmost object of the group of four-sided alpine pillars – tabernacle. There are three stories of the pillar: the first one tells us about building such monuments on important crossroads to mark the exact orientation to the north-east-west-south, the second story tells us that the pillars were built for protection against disease (plague, cholera) and against evil (statues, paintings-icons inside the pillars), but the origin of the pillar is not known – whether it’s profane or sacral. The third story tells us about the pillory which served to punish offenders during the Military Frontier in Croatia, allegedly four people were walled up alive in the pillar according to the legend that should be checked and proved.


The houses in Žumberak are built mostly in stone or wood, or the combination of both: the cellar in stone, and the living area in wood. Unfortunately not one house has been preserved with straw roof, but we can still see the clay rooster on the crest of the roof, a relic from the period of Turkish incursions when the Ottoman Empire exerted great influence on this region that was part of the Military Frontier until 1884. In nearly every old garden you can find, and even in some new ones, a lily – the symbol that beauty knows no hate or intolerance.

The road that leads through Žumberak today was built in the 18th century under the supervision of Nikolaus Ritter von Weymann (monument in Žamarije). They used a part of an old Roman road that went through Žumberak in the direction of Germania.


In Žumberak – the name for the mountain, for the municipality and for the village – there were two towns: Old town Gradina (Stari grad Gradina) and Sichelburg – Shumberk or Uskočka regiment, which was demolished in 1947. Only a part of the western wall was preserved.

In Žumberak two ceremonies are held in the Catholic Church: Roman Catholic or western ceremony and Greek Catholic or eastern ceremony. Or as said by the reverend Pajić: in Žumberak we breathe in both lungs.

During the 15th and the 16th century Žumberak was devastated to the point that today’s inhabitants of Žumberak are the descendants of immigrants. Every village has its specificities regarding the origin of its inhabitants and we can hear that in the diversity of dialects and languages: Bosnian, the sto-dialect, the “I” dialect of Croatian language.

Nearly every village in Žumberak has a sacral building: if it’s not the church then it’s a chapel, if there is not enough space for a chapel, then there is a simple crucifix.

The inhabitants of Žumberak are very introverted people, self-sufficient, but if the traveler gets stuck in Žumberak, help will be given in a second, and they will show their cordiality and hospitality instead of the highland harshness.

The central part of Žumberak is rich in water, the estimation is that there were around 150 mills, today only several are preserved, and the mill in Čunkova draga of the noble family Medven is a representative example of the construction of mills.

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