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The Green Zagorje

The Green Zagorje

The gentle green landscapes with hills, fields and valleys, rivers and streams, lakes, ponds and hot springs – this is the Croatian Zagorje. Situated south of the baroque picturesque city of Varazdin, north of Zagreb, i.e. on the “other side” of the Medvednica Mountain.

The popular song from Zagorje describes the region’s selfawarenss as Green: “Lepe ti je, lepe ti je, Zagorje zelene, Zagorje zelene” “pretty is our region, the green Zagorje”. To explain the beautiful green landscapes people here like the legends about the Green George (popular St. Georges, or in Croatian Sveti Yura).

Zagorje, Gupceva Lipa
Gupceva Lipa, the Inn next to the Linden tree where Matija Gubec gathered peasants for the first revolt in the 16th century

There are several things to know that are important when you hear us, Croatians, talk about Zagorje: Green, hot (thermal waters), revolt, Tito and – food.

Three men marked the history of Croatia and thanks to them the mentality of the people here were formed. Those three men were born in Croatian Zagorje: Tito, the most famous lifelong president of the ex-Yougoslavia. Then Matija Gubec, a peasant from Stubica (pronounced Stubitsa), a serf from the 16th century who organized the first jacquerie, a peasant revolt with a tragic outcome, but mythological legacy. And the third Franjo Tudjman, the first president of the independent post-Yugoslavia Croatia.

The mix of beautiful natural landscapes and the rich historical heritage makes this region a very popular destination for excursions and tours. After Dalmatia the Croatian Zagorje has the biggest quantity of historical monuments – from the beginning of time until the contemporary period. The most famous item from outer space – the meteorite – is kept in a museum in Vienna.

Croatia Castles Veliki Tabor
Veliki Tabor Castle, Zagorje region

 

The most popular sites among the visitors are the Krapina Neanderthal Museum (museum about the human evolution), two beautiful castles: the fancy Trakoscan and the authentic medieval Veliki Tabor, and the ethno village Kumrovec – where Marshal Tito was born. Along with those mandatory tourist sites, we like to mention the ruins of ancient cities like Cesargrad or Grebengrad, the religious heritage with a mix of the gothic and baroque styles you can see in many little provincial churches and some of them are a real work of art like the baroque church of St. Mary of Snow in Belec, Trški Vrh in Krapina or St. Georges chapel in Purga Lepoglavska to mention just three of them.

Zagorje is particularly popular for its rich and quality thermal sources or spas: Stubicke Toplice, Tuheljske Toplice, Krapinske Toplice or Terme Jezercica. Other thermal sources are waiting for investors and renovation.

Plitvice Lakes National Park

Plitvice Lakes National Park

The excursion to the Plitvice Lakes National Park offers to our visitors the possibility to discover the oldest national park in Southeast Europe, and the biggest and the most visited national park in Croatia. The Plitvice Lakes region was proclaimed a national park in 1949, and because of the unique quality of the natural landscape and biodiversity it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage register in 1979.

The protected area covers 296 square kilometers, although the most popular part of the park are the trails around the 16 lakes.

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The Plitvice Lakes National Park is some 137 km from Zagreb (D1 national route), 257 km from Split. The Plitvice Lakes are 447 km from Dubrovnik. If you are on holiday on the Adriatic coast we suggest to come to Zagreb by plane, make a nice excursion to the Plitvice Lakes and a visit of Zagreb, and get back to Dubrovnik/Split/Zadar/Pula later in the evening.

The legend about the Plitvice Lakes reveals the harsh reality of the Dinaric karst of the region.

Once upon a time, when there was no rain for a very long time, a life-threatening drought was killing animals and destroying flora, people started to pray to the Black Queen. After a long period she has finally shown mercy sending black clouds full of rain. When rain started to fall, it seemed it will never end, filling the underground first and then creating beautiful lakes. We are reminded of this legend whenever the weather changes in this mountainous region.

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The greater region around the Plitvice Lakes National Park – Lika and Gorski Kotar is the less populated region of Croatia but the most popular destinations among Croatian green travelers. Hikers and trekkers continue to the Velebit mountain and its two national parks: Paklenica National Park and The Northern Velebit National Park and one park of nature: Velebit Park of Nature. Please keep in mind that the word “park” here does not mean you can go alone for a walk. This is a mistake many foreing travelers do when they read the title and see how close it is to the Adriatic coast.

Visiting Zagreb

Visiting Zagreb

Here are some practical information for those of you coming to Zagreb and wishing to explore the city.

The Zagreb cathedral is open for visitors form 10 am to 5 pm from Monday to Saturday, on Sundays from 1 pm to 5 pm.  Outside those hours you can enter but without a guide, and you probably won’t be able to look around and photograph, because of the masses. Often the visit is not possible on major religious holidays.

The Dolac farmer’s market – a very popular site for visitors, but also for the citizens of Zagreb. Open 7 days a week from early morning until approximately 2 pm. But closed on holidays. Top days to visit Dolac farmer’s Market are Friday and Saturday. That’s when most of us go for shopping and coffee with friends. The peak is at noon, but the coffee can last until later in the afternoon.

If you are interested in cultural discoveries, you should know that most of Zagreb museums are closed on Mondays, and have shorter working hours (until 1 pm) during the weekends. Some museums are breaking the rules, but if you have some specific interests you should better check.

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The public transport in Zagreb. The oldest and first is the Zagreb Funicular, since 1890. The ticket costs four kunas per person. The Zagreb Tram (Zagreb Electrical Tram, ZET) covers most of the city regions. One ticket costs 10 kunas, and lasts for 1,5 hours.  A full day ticket costs 30 kunas. From 0-4 (four) am the ticket costs 15 kunas.

Drinking. Tap water is perfectly drinkable in Zagreb. But, follow the news of cours, with the climate change and possible floodings that can change too.

Croatia is a country with a long tradition of drinking beer, wine and brandies. There is a range of popular Croatian beers, like Karlovacko, Velebit or Ozujsko. But in most cafes you can order all international brands.

Discover Croatian wines, ask for a suggestion from a waiter in a restaurant or bar. National wines get more and more awards every year. Croatia has excellent wines both from the coast – Dalmatia and Istria as from the continental region – the Zagreb County wine roads are getting more and more popular because of the vicinity.  But then there are Slavoninan wines and wines from Medjimurje and Moslavina.

About eating we’ll talk in one of the next blogs.

 Zagreb Time Machine and other events organized by the Zagreb Tourist Board are usually held on weekends, some on a specific hour so it’s not always possible to see them. For example: the changing of the Croatian Guard.

Guided Trips

Guided Trips

Some “one day” guided trips from Zagreb will be offered for an open booking. This means different people can book an excursion or a tour and we will anounce the trip’s dates and prices much in advance to be able to offer them for popular prices.

The offer will have these descriptions:

Waitling list – open for booking, the tour date still not confirmed.

In progress – the tour date is confirmed, the tour is going on a specific date, there are still availabilities.

Closed – the tour is going to be held on a specific dates, no more available places for that specific tour.

Cancelled – this type of tours always have a minimum number of passengers that is requested. This is always mentioned in the description. If the minimum mumber is not met until a specific deadline the tour is cancelled and payments are refunded.

All programmes are offered in English, French, Russian and Croatian.

See you soon in Croatia.

Samia Zitouni

info (at) bestofzagreb . com

Park Ribnjak

Park Ribnjak

Old walls of the medieval Kaptol seen from the Ribnjak Park beneath the Zagreb cathedral. Beautiful park safe only during daylight. Old  fishponds were transformed into park in the 19th century.