Yesterday I explored beautiful Zagreb by foot and tram. The tram system is efficient and gets you where you need to go painlessly. The main impediment to getting around was the 90 degree heat, but Zagreb’s abundant green areas and parks are great places to escape the blazing sun.
After walking around Kaptol district and Ban Jelačić Square I climbed a medieval stairway and passed through Strossmayer Promenade to Upper Town (Gornji Grad). The area was busy with people enjoying Sunday afternoon in cafés and galleries. I saw a sign for a Picasso exhibition at the Klovicevi Dvori Gallery.
The Master Pieces From the Picasso Museum in Paris exhibit is appearing in a Zagreb gallery until July 7. The exhibition includes over a hundred paintings, sculptures, photographs, and documents depicting Picasso’s work and life. I haven’t seen Picasso’s work up close before, so it was a treat!
Zagreb “grew out of the medieval communities of Kaptol and Gradec. Its present-day appearance and many of the city’s buildings are grand, peach-colored monuments to the self-esteem of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Outwardly Zagreb shares the refined urban culture of central Europe – organized transportation, clean streets, and impeccably manicured parks – but behind the city’s genteel façade teems a complex blend of central European, Mediterranean, and Balkan cultures.”
Zagreb’s population is close to one million. I’ll compare it to other Central and Eastern European cities like Ljubljana, Budapest, Vienna, and Prague as this trip continues.
The soaring twin towers of the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Kaptol District are exquisite! One tower is undergoing renovation and the process could last for many years. The the 11th century Treasury of Zagreb is next to the cathedral.
I visited Mirogoj Cemetery Park, another major landmark in Zagreb. Austrian Architect Hermann Bollé designed the beautiful main building, arcades, and entryway church. The cemetery inters members of all religious groups. Many famous Croatians are buried there. It has dense, lush gardens and is really a beautiful place!
I stumbled on a brochure about a ballet at the Croatian National Theater tomorrow evening and bought a ticket. “As part of its traditional coöperation with the Zagreb Music Biennale, the Ballet of the Croatian National Theatre will, for the first time, première a triple bill for the 27th Zagreb Music Biennale – choreographed by a welcome guest, Edward Clug – Art Director of Maribor Slovene National Theatre (SNG) Ballet – to the music of Claude Debussy and Igor Stravinsky.” Sounds divine and the Theater is in a fantastic old building!
Thursday, I leave Zagreb via train and head to Rijeka (rye-ache-ah). Rijeka is Croatia’s main seaport and a favorite vacation spot for many Europeans.