Zagreb, the capital of Croatia is situated on the slopes of Medvednica Mountain and along the banks of the Sava river. The city core comprises the medieval parts of the town called Gradec (Gric) and Kaptol. Zagreb served as the cultural and political center of Croatia beginning in 925 during the Middle Ages.
This city combines a vibrant, modern energy with plenty of old-world charm and graciousness. The town center is full of elegant Austro-Hungarian buildings housing fashionable boutiques, renowned restaurants, rowdy pubs and scruffy beer halls. Nearby galleries show off local masterpieces. The city also appeals to nature-lovers with its refreshing stretches of open green spaces, nearby lakes and many outdoor cafes.
Art lovers have much to enjoy and explore in Zagreb. The Mimara Museum is the capital's crowning jewel named after a private collector who generously left thousands of priceless objects to his native city. The extensive collection encompasses many time periods and regions, beginning with over 200 relics from ancient Persia, Egypt, Rome, Mesopotamia and Greece. The museum also boasts a number of paintings by international masters like Goya, Caravaggio, Raphael, Veronese, Degas, Renoir, Monet, Delacroix, Rubens, de la Tour and others.
History buffs will also find many sights of interest in the city. The Gradec Stone Gate is the only surviving medieval fortification in Zagreb today. The site became a shrine in 1731 after a fire destroyed every inch of the wooden gate but spared a painting of the Virgin and Child. Locals regularly pray at the site and leave flowers, believing the painting has miraculous powers. The western side of the gate is dominated by a statue of Dora, the revered heroine of an 18th-century Croatian novel. The real Dora lived just next door to the gate with her father.
One of the most emblematic buildings in the capital is St. Mark's Church. The colorful example of late Gothic and Romanesque architecture dates back to the 13th century and features an incredible portal with 15 carved figures sitting in shallow niches. The interior is dotted with sculptures by local master Mestrovic, and the beautiful tiled roof features the medieval coats of arms of Slavonia, Croatia and Dalmatia.