Monday, January 14, 2013

Incantato's Zagreb

In July 2013, the Croatian capital, which dates back to 1094, will be the next European capital to join the European Union. Despite this fact, however, Zagreb is not as international as one might expect. It has managed to retain much of its street-level character that is shaped as much by local tastes as global commercial imperatives. 
With the exception of a few, most of the businesses you will encounter in Zagreb are local ones. Explore the courtyards leading off of the main shopping street and you are sure to discover a unique world of boutiques and workshops. Many of these sell hand-made jewelry or individually-crafted hats and shoes. Zagreb is still able to boast professions such as millinery (hat making) and cordwainery (shoemaking/cobbler) with businesses still located in their traditional places in the city center. Additionally, unlike many of its fellow European capitals, Zagreb is a city where the main outdoor fruit and vegetable market still occupies center stage, just a few steps from the main square. All journeys through the city will cross the main square, as you can walk almost anywhere in this big village.
Although Zagreb may lack the big-city vibe of Vienna or Budapest, this is really where the charm of the city lies. It is a city where you can easily wind down, as it has remained compact in Central European fashion and most old-school entertainment options such as restaurants, concert halls and theaters are concentrated in a relatively small area. Sightseeing should involve a walk around the cobbled Upper Town, as well as a stroll of the grid-patterned streets of the Lower Town.

Mind the Blast:
Every day since 1877, a single loud cannon blast from Upper Town has signaled noon, so don't be scared when alarmed when you hear cannon fire. 
Marvel at the Cathedral:
If Zagreb has an iconic freature, it is the two towers of the Cathedral, created by Hermann Bolle after an earthquake struck in 1880. The Cathedral of the Assumption of the Holy Virgin Mary Right is right in the heart of town and a five-minute walk from the main square.
An icon returns:

One of the biggest attractions the city is currently able to offer is that of the Croatian Apoxyomenos, one of the country's oldest artworks. The statue was salvaged from the ocean floor in 1999 and has been dated to the first century BC. Currently, Croatia's most famous Roman-era statue is on display at the Mimara Museum. 

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