Lotrščak Tower Zagreb Upper Town

Lotrščak Tower Zagreb Upper Town

Although tourists will almost certainly choose the Lower Town in Zagreb as a base, it makes sense to explore first the oldest part of the city. It are the two small hills of Kaptol and Gradec. They are now known as the Zagreb Upper Town (Gornji grad).

Almost every inhabitant of Zagreb, when asked what is their favorite part of town, will say "The Upper Town". More specific, they will be thinking of Gradec. This area is more peaceful than Kaptol and because of the atmosphere coming from its intricate web of small streets.

A good place to start exploring of the Upper Town is the terrace below Lotrščak Tower. These are the only defenses which are still possible to visit and climb to enjoy its commanding position and splendid views of the plain stretching away to south and east.

A cannon tells the time

At noon each day a cannon fires from the first floor of the tower. This custom began in 1877 to make sure that all the clocks on church towers told the same time. It stopped in 1914 for because of the war. This was partly because it was an outmoded way of telling the time and partly to save gunpowder. The cannon and the custom were restored in 1927.

Lotrščak Tower Zagreb Upper Town Cannon Shot

Lotrščak Tower Zagreb Upper Town Cannon Shot

The tower is well worth a visit, both for the view and for the opportunity to see one of the real characters of Zagreb, Stjepan Mazar. He fired the cannon every day since 1937. The name of the tower derives from campana latrunculorum (thieves' bell). It rang each evening as the town gate beside the tower closed.

The terrace is a short cable-care ride up from Ilica. This is the main commercial street in the center of the city. The cable-car was installed in 1889 to obviate the otherwise step, short climb to the hill above.

St Mark's Church and Square Zagreb Upper Town

St Marks Church Upper Town Zagreb

St Marks Church Upper Town Zagreb

The hub of the old town is still its center today. St Marks Church (Crkva svetog Marka), and the square in front of it (Markov trg). It's not known exactly when the church appeared. It's  likely to have been at the same time as the town obtained permission by King Bela IV from Hungary in 1256 to hold an annual fair in front of it.

The church underwent major alterations in the course of the 14th and 15th centuries. This includes the south door, built by craftsmen from Prague. Despite later damage, this door remains the most important single example of the architecture and sculpture of medieval Zagreb.

Roof St Marks Church Zagreb

Roof St Marks Church Zagreb

The present colorful and distinctive roof was part of in a major restoration between 1876 - 1882 by the Viennese architect Friedrich Schmidt and his assistant Hermann Bollé. Both left many enduring marks on Zagreb. The sculptor Ivan Meštrovic supervised further radical changes between 1936 - 1938.

His aim was to remove all traces off Neo-Gothic interventions. This included stripping off the plaster to show the original stone. All that's now left of the 19th century work are the roof, the stained-glass windows and the west door.

Address Trg Sv. Marka 5, Zagreb, Croatia

St Catherine's Church Zagreb

St Catharines Church Zagreb

St Catharine's Church Zagreb

The focus point of the street leading to the right when leaving Lotrščak Tower, now called Catherine's Square (Katarinin trg), is the beautiful church of St Catherine. The square was first named after the church. Currently it's named after Katarina Zrinski, wife of Petar Zrinski and sister of Fran Krsto Frankopan.

There was a Dominican church on roughly the same site in the 15th century until the monks fled further up into the hills in the face of the advancing Ottomans. The model for the present church built by the Jesuits in the middle of the 17th century is Il Gesù in Rome.

Address Katarinin trg bb, Zagreb, Croatia

Jesuit Monastery Zagreb

Jesuit Monastery Zagreb

Jesuit Monastery Zagreb

In addition to the church, the Jesuits obtained the monastery building abandoned by the Dominicans. It's to the right of the church. The original building was severely damaged by fire in 1645, and it had to be completely rebuilt. It was rebuilt again between 1703 - 1705 and then yet again in the 19th century. Under the Jesuits, this attractive building became the first secondary school in Zagreb.

Later it became the first academy or university in the city. It's still in use as a school today. The façade opening on the square is the shorter side of an L-shaped building, while the longer side extends along an inner courtyard and backs on the city walls above Strossmayer Walk.

Convent of the Poor Clares Zagreb

Convent of the Poor Clares Zagreb

Convent of the Poor Clares Zagreb

The foundation stone for the Convent of the Poor Clares (now the City Museum of Zagreb) was laid in 1647 and building completed in 1650. It seems to have been the initiative of Count Gašpar Draškovic that the order should move from its original site in Požun to Zagreb and his sister Cecilija became the first Abbess.

While many women throughout Croatia, as elsewhere in Europe at this time, felt genuinely called to holy orders, there were also daughters of noble and gentry families for whom it was a "career option" if they were not drawn to the traditional domestic life, or if there were insufficient funds in the family for dowries for all the daughters.

This convent covered substantial grounds, with extensive gardens, including the site of the buildings at 16, 18, 20 and 22 Opaticka Street.Number 18 was the site of the convent chapel of the Holy Trinity.

The Stone Gate Zagreb

Stone Gate Zagreb

Stone Gate Zagreb

The street leading from St Mark's Square to Kamenita vrata, The Stone Gate (named Kamenita Street after it), always had small shops and at the beginning of the 19th century was one of the busiest shopping streets in Zagreb. The chemist's shop on the corner of Habdeliceva Street has been in continues operation in this function since 1355, although the building itself has been repeatedly restored as this corner was subject to regular damage by fire.

Recent renovations include the plaque on the west wall, commemorating one of the first chemists to run the shop. Dante's great-grandson, Nicolo Alighieri had the chemist shop here in 1399.

Zagreb Upper Town Map

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