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Croatia facts and history in brief


Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Zagreb (pronounced ZAH-greb) is the capital city of Croatia.
The city's population was 779,145 in 2001, 1,088,841 in its metropolitan area which includes Samobor, Velika Gorica and Zapresic.
The majority of its citizens are Croats with 91.94% (2001 census).
The city is situated between the southern slopes of Medvednica mountain and the northern bank of the Sava river, it is 120 m above sea level, located at 45°48' N 15°58' E.

Its favourable geographic position in the southwestern part of the Pannonian Basin, which extends to the Alpine, Dinaric, Adriatic and Pannonic regions, provides an excellent connection for traffic between Central Europe and the Adriatic Sea.
The traffic position, concentration of industry (metal processing, electrical appliances, textiles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals (Pliva), printing and leather industries, wood processing, paper etc.), scientific and research institutions and industrial tradition underlie its leading economic position.
The city is relatively prosperous by Eastern European standards, albeit the average incomes and prices are still lower than farther in the West.
Zagreb seats central state administrative bodies and almost all government ministries.

While the human habitats were present at the wider city area since the Neolithic (including the well-preserved Roman town of Andautonia), its modern name was recorded for the first time in the 11th century (1094).
In that year the Hungarian King Ladislaus founded a bishopric on the Kaptol hill.
An independent secular community developed on a neighbouring hill Gradec (Gric).
The settlements suffered greatly under the Mongol invasion of 1242, but when they abruptly left, King Bela IV declared Gradec a royal autonomous city in order to attract foreign artisans.
During the 14th and 15th centuries, the two communities actively tried to best each other - economically and politically.
The bishopric would excommunicate Gradec which might respond by burning Kaptol.
They only worked together for the occasional large commercial venture - such as the three yearly fairs each lasting two weeks.
These two mediaeval hills, Gradec and Kaptol, finally merged into one community, Zagreb, in the early 17th century.
They now form the cultural centre of the modern city (the economic and traffic centre has shifted southwards since).
The bishopric of Kaptol has since become the Archbishopric of Zagreb.
The construction of the railway embankment (1860) enabled the old suburbs, which did not represent an urban whole up to then, to merge gradually into Donji Grad, characterized by a regular block pattern.
During the Austro-Hungarian era Zagreb was called by its German name Agram.
Working-class quarters emerged between the railway and the Sava and residential quarters on the hills of the southern slopes of Medvednica between the two World Wars.
The blocks between the railway and the Sava were built after the Second World War followed from the mid-1950s by new residential areas south of the Sava river, the so-called Novi Zagreb (New Zagreb).
The city also expanded towards the west and the east and "consumed" what were once mere villages at Dubrava, Podsused, Jarun, Blato etc.
The cargo railway hub and the international airport Pleso were built south of the Sava river.
The biggest industrial zone (Zitnjak) in the southeast represents an extension of the industrial zones on the eastern outskirts of the city, between the Sava and the Prigorje region.
Urbanized lines of settlements connect Zagreb with the centres in its surroundings: Sesvete, Zapresic, Samobor, Dugo Selo and Velika Gorica.
Sesvete is the closest one to become a part of the conurbation and is in fact already included in the City of Zagreb rather than the Zagreb county (which excludes the city).
There are three main transit connections:
the western, towards Ljubljana, Slovenia and on to Western Europe;
the eastern, towards Slavonia and on to Southeastern Europe and the Near East; and
the southern, towards Rijeka, Croatia's biggest port in the Kvarner bay and Split in Dalmatia, the second largest Croatian city and also an important port.
The railway running along the Sutla river and the Zagorje main road (Zagreb - Maribor - Vienna), as well as traffic connections with the Pannonian region and Hungary (the Zagorje railroad, the roads and railway to Varazdin - Cakovec and Koprivnica) are linked with the truck routes.
The southern railway connection to Split operates on a line via the Lika region (renovated in 2004 to allow for a five-hour journey); a faster line along the Una river valley is currently out of use and in decay due to unsettled border crossing issues with Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The railway and the expressway along the Sava river that run to Slavonia and further to Belgrade are the fastest traffic lines in the country.
The city has a reasonably well developed road network with several of the main lines up to four tracks wide and a full-profile expressway encircling most of the city.
There is some congestion in the city centre and parking is also a problem.
Cars parked on the pavements often make it hard for pedestrians to get past.
Public transportation in the city is organized in two layers: the inner parts of the city are mostly covered by trams and the outer suburbs are linked with buses.
The public transport company, ZET (Zagrebacki Elektricni Tramvaj, Zagreb Electric Tram), receives a subsidy from the city council and so the fares are relatively cheap but they can get very crowded at peak times.
A single funicular near the city centre is something of a tourist attraction.
Taxis are generally only used for transport from the railway station and the airport due to their relatively high price.
In recent years, the state rail operator HZ (Hrvatska Zeljeznica, Croatian Railways) has been trying to organize a net of suburban trains in metropolitan Zagreb area.
As of 2004, it's been partially organized in directions east-west and vice versa.

The wider Zagreb area has been constantly inhabited ever since the prehistoric period, witnessed by the archaeological findings in the Veternica cave from the Paleolithic and the excavation of the remains of a destroyed Roman town of Andautonia near the present village of Scitarjevo.
Picturesque ex-villages on the slopes of Medvednica: Sestine, Gracani and Remete are arranged around the city like beads of a necklace, and maintain their rich tradition even today: folk costumes, Sestine umbrellas, gingerbread products, etc.
The Medvednica mountain (Zagrebacka gora), with its highest peak Sljeme (1,033 m), provides a panoramic view of metropolitan Zagreb, the Sava and the Kupa valleys, the region of Hrvatsko Zagorje. From the top of the mountain, and during fair weather, the vista reaches as far as Velebit mountain and snow-capped peaks of the Julian Alps in nearby Slovenia.
There are several mountain huts offering accommodation and restaurants providing refreshment for hikers.
Skiers visit Sljeme which has four ski-runs, three ski-lifts and a chairlift.
The old Medvedgrad, a medieval burg built in the 13th century and recently restored, represents a special attraction of the Medvednica hill.
It overlooks the western part of the city and also has the Shrine of the Homeland, a memorial place with eternal flame, where Croatia pays reverence to all its heroes fallen for homeland in its history, customarily on the national holidays.
Travel agencies organize guided excursions to the surroundings as well as the sightseeing of Zagreb.

Zagreb is a substantial tourist centre, not only in terms of transit from West and Central Europe to the Adriatic Sea but also as a tourist destination.
Since the end of the war it has attracted a fair number of tourists, but many tourists that visit Croatia skip Zagreb in favor of the beaches along the Adriatic coast and the even older historic cities such as Dubrovnik, Sibenik, Zadar and others.
Nevertheless, Zagreb celebrated its 900th birthday in 1994 and it is not only rich in cultural and historical monuments, museums and galleries, but it also has a variety of modern shops, and offers good quality of diversified restaurants as well as sports and recreation facilities.
It is a big centre of congress tourism, economic and business events and trade fairs not only in Croatia but also in this part of Europe.
Being an important junction point, it has road, air, railway and bus connections with European metropolises and all bigger cities and tourist resorts in Croatia.
The historical part of the town, the Upper Town and Kaptol, are a unique urban core even in European terms, and thus represent the target of sightseeing tours.
The old town's streets and squares can be reached on foot, starting from Ban Josip Jelacic Square, the central part and the heart of Zagreb, or by a funicular on nearby Tomiceva Street.
The old core of the town includes many famous buildings, churches, museums and institutions as well as pleasant restaurants and coffee bars.
Zagreb has many museums to reflect the history, art and culture not only of Zagreb and Croatia, but also of Europe and the world.
The city offers rich cultural and artistic enjoyment.
There are about 20 permanent or seasonal theatres and stages.
Zagreb hosts many domestic and international events. Animafest, the World Festival of Animated Films, takes place each even year, and the Music Bienniale, the international festival of avant-garde music, every odd year and many others.
Numerous shops, boutiques, store houses and shopping centres offer a variety of good quality clothes.
Zagreb's offerings include crystal, china and ceramics, nice wicker or straw baskets, top-quality Croatian wines and gastronomic products.
Zagreb is the site of the University of Zagreb founded in 1669.
Zagreb is also home to the eponymous film-producing company, Zagreb Film.

Zagreb is officially twinned with the following towns and cities:
Mainz, Germany, since 1967, St. Petersburg, Russia, since 1968, Tromsų, Norway, since 1971, Kyoto, Japan, since 1972, Krakow, Poland, since 1975, Lisbon, Portugal, since 1977 Pittsburgh, United States of America, since 1980, Shanghai, China, since 1980,
Budapest, Hungary, since 1994, Vienna, Austria, since 1994, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, since 2001, Ljubljana, Slovenia, since 2001.

External links

The above details were retrieved and condensed from (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zagreb) August 2005
All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License (see Copyrights for details).

Hui Chin and I visited Croatia during our European travels in 2005.

We have enjoyed our stay in the country, but were very disappointed with the train services.

Before our departure from new Zealand, we purchased a rather expensive Regional Eurail Pass with added days to cover any delays or staying longer in any place than we have planned for.

Croatia, - at least between places we intended to visit - have very poor train services.

We arrived from Austria, through Slovenia to Rijeka, and although Rijeka connected by rail to Pula, our next stop, the train service is very slow and sporadic.

To go from Pula to Zadar or Split, or Dubrovnik, we either had to go through Zagreb with the consequent delay or use the bus services, which we did have to use throughout.

The roads are very good, so are the bus services, but it meant extra expenses for us, with already paid for rail passes.

With the good roads Croatia is catering for the neighbouring countries drivers, not for the like of us, with limited budgets, who can't afford a car or hired car in every country we like to visit.

It was raining on and off during our stay in Zagreb, but Hui Chin and I enjoyed our stay.

Plenty of interesting, historical sights to see.

You can click on these photos for an enlargement.


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Zagreb trains

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Zagreb trams

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