If I knew Zagreb was so rich in quirky stories and places, I would’ve gone a looong time ago!
I visited the Croatian capital two times last year. Both times it was just a transit stop to make my way from Bulgaria to Slovenia. But, at the end, Zagreb left a long-lasting impression with its fascinating stories, unique sites, and delicious Strukli!
I would only dare to compare Zagreb to Prague. Karlov Most, the Castle and Prague’s Old Town are definitely worth visiting. But David Cerny’s bizarre statues spread all over the Czech’s capital are what makes Prague also one of my favourite destinations. After all, it’s not every day you can see men pissing over the Czech Republic or giant babies with no faces climbing a tower… if you’ve been to Prague, you’d know what I mean. But that story is for another time.
My point is, if you are headed to Zagreb anytime soon, you will see things you won’t see anywhere else and hear stories you can’t hear anywhere else. I assure you.
Exploring Zagreb and its best-kept secrets can be your spring highlight too. Check out what I mean:
Museum of Broken Relationships – “Brokenships”
I avoid going to museums. I think they are generally boring (sorry, cultural heritage). But when it comes to innovative and unique concepts, museums can really become a reason to visit a place. That’s what I think about Zagreb’s Museum of Broken Relationships – the first one of its kind in the whole world.
It would take you hours to explore the whole museum with its emotional love, hate, and dramatic stories. They are usually presented through a note/letter and different objects (like an ax?!) that people donated to the Museum. The rich collection of stories really impressed me and I think it will be worth your while, too. The museum exhibition travels all over the world, but the one in Zagreb is permanent. There is another Museum of broken relationships somewhere in the USA, too.
Entrance Fee: 30 kn
Museum of Illusion
Another interesting museum in Zagreb (two birds with one stroke – I know, right!) is the Museum of Illusion. Before I arrived in the city, I didn’t know such one existed. It has 2-3 super interesting halls and some other cool illusions that will put a smile on your face for sure.
Entrance Fee: 40 kn
Eat Strukli at La Struk
Definitely one of Zagreb’s top best kept secrets! Strukli is a delicious piece of art – a traditional Zagreb pastry dish that generations of locals cooked and still cook in their homes. Strukli in La Struk are served straight out of the oven. They come in a variety of tastes – with cheese, truffles, blueberries and others. It would be a crime if you don’t try Strukli in Zagreb. I can’t wait to go back!
Where: La Struk, Facebook Page
The man who made love with Zagreb… literally
In 1981 Tomislav Gotovac – a famous Croatian actor, director, and artist, ran naked through Zagreb kissing the road and buildings as he did it. The performance was part of his piece named “Zagreb, I Love You”. In memory of his quite weird “love letter” to Zagreb, his footprints were imprinted not far from the main square. You can step in his footprints, literally, but don’t follow his steps. I think locals won’t like it that much nowadays…:-D
Where: Ilica street, Zagreb
A piece of Vegas in the Cathedral
Rumour has it that the Cathedral’s chandeliers are not so sacred as we may think. Apparently, they were meant for a casino in Las Vegas (!?). A wealthy Croatian businessman bought them and donated them to the Cathedral. It was a temporary solution at the time which was 15 years from now. Now, tell me that’s something you hear every day?
The weirdest, yet the most inspiring job interview ever
Another interesting story we heard about Zagreb was about the weirdest job interview ever. A young man from the area came to Zagreb to become a fireman. However, he was rejected during the application process due to “lack of skills” for the job.
Well, he didn’t want to settle with a “no”. So what he did next was genius – one morning he did handstands on the Cathedral’s tower. A crowd gathered around and wondered what was happening – if he was in trouble or just crazy. So guess who people called? Yes, the fire department. The firemen tried to talk him out of “jumping”. To their surprise, it was the same man they rejected a while ago. He impressed them with his skills and told them he would get off only if they give him the job…
The award for the most pointless lift in a city goes to…
Okay, okay, okay… A long time ago, Zagreb’s tiny lift had a legit purpose – to connect the upper with the lower part of the town. But now, the lift has no other meaning than being a touristic attraction. Just to make things clear, there are stairs alongside the lift which will spare you a lot of time and unmet expectations from the lift ride.
Yes, it looks good on the postcards and photos, but come on… would you really jump on that? If one can make a tourist attraction and money out of that, then everything is possible.
The 100 years old secret of Zagreb’s Lotrscak Tower
I wanted to keep this as a surprise to every Zagreb’s visitor, but I really can’t. Spoiler alert!
Every single day, at noon, from the Lotrscak Tower in Zagreb a cannon is shot and has been so for the past 100 years. “What do you mean every day?”- Yes, every single day. At noon. Can you imagine how annoyed are the locals and how surprised are the tourists… I simply loved it.
The Pole in front of the Parliament square
I know! Zagreb’s secrets don’t end. But can you complain?
Anyway, this is another reason I’ll remember my visit to the Croatian capital. On the square, just in front of the Parliament, there was a pole a long time ago. People who broke the law or did anything against the community were tied on the pole for public condemnation and humiliation. A local told us they really need to restore that tradition for the government members today… (shhh!)
Zagreb’s Market Unspoken Rules
We can’t be sure about that one (or anything else in here I guess). It’s all rumours and urban legends. Another one says that families in Zagreb buy things from the same market stall for generations which belongs to a friend or a relative.
Why? Because the booths are owned by the same family for years. So, most likely, they all know each other. And if you dare to buy something from another stall than the one your grandma bought from, you’ll break the tradition and the world will end. No, just kidding. But you’ll most likely be frowned upon.
So, yes! Zagreb impressed me with its quirky flavor and unique stories. Who would’ve guessed? I hope you’ll go visit Zagreb and learn even more of those stories. I’m sure the locals have what else to share.
After Zagreb we went to explore the beautiful Bela Krajina region in Slovenia which is a whole different story…
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