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Stately Zagreb – Capital of Croatia

Updated on January 1, 2015

Two Nights in Zagreb

Our recent boat cruise in Croatia ended with two nights in the beautiful, stately city of Zagreb – the capital of that country. We stayed at the Hotel Dubrovnik and we arranged a city tour for the full day that was available to us.

The Cathedral

One of the most beautiful highlights of the tour must have been the gothic-style cathedral. The cathedral is dedicated to the Assumption of Mary and to the kings Saint Stephen and Saint Ladislaus. It has two spires which can be seen from many points across the city. The cathedral was damaged in 1880 in an earthquake. Restoration work has subsequently been undertaken. Two spires are in the process of being restored as part of this work. Inside the cathedral you can see some beautiful stained-glass windows. There are also figures representing the scene of the Crucifixion of Christ.

The entrance to the beautiful cathedral in Zagreb

Mirogoj Cemetery

In the afternoon we visited the Mirogoj Cemetery. This was quite an experience. There were so many tombstones and graves and all from different religions such as Catholicism, Islam, Judaism and Protestantism. It also has long, roofed passages – called arcades – which you can walk along and view plaques and visual monuments which commemorate famous Croatians.

Many years ago I had a colleague who kept framed photographs of her wedding day on her desk. I soon discovered that her wedding shoot had taken place in the Braamfontein Cemetery in Johannesburg. I found this unusual, even though I had to admit that her photographs were beautiful. Cemeteries are something one associates with death and sadness, and maybe even ghoulish fear. But her photographs were striking because of the beautiful statues and shapes in the background which seemed to complement the stylish, albeit somewhat theatrical outfits, that she and her groom wore on the day.

I was reminded of her wedding photographs during our afternoon at Mirogoj. Some of the art work on the mausoleum walls of different families was nothing short of spectacular. It’s truly remarkable how polished white stone, carved in relief so as to depict a scene, can render such vivid imagery.

Fine art work in Mirogoj Cemetery

The Museum of Broken Relationships

They say that spring-cleaning is good for the soul. Few things make you feel as centred and calm as you do after you’ve made a sincere effort to go through all your personal belongings, throw out what you don’t need and re-order the things that stay behind. I think it’s hard because personal objects take on such an aura of their own. It is difficult to part with something that contains a piece of yourself.

The Museum of Broken Relationships in Zagreb could be said to represent a spring-cleaning of the soul. It contains displays of objects which people from all around the world have donated. The objects all have one thing in common, namely the fact that they represent an aspect of a broken romantic relationship. Each item is accompanied by a written description of what it represents and some of the descriptions make for interesting reading.

Admittedly such a concept is an innovative one when it comes to museums. We normally associate them with old dusty collections that haven’t been moved or touched in several years. And perhaps this is why the Museum received the Kenneth Hudson Award for the Most Innovative Museum in Europe in 2011. But I have to admit that after seeing a few of the displays I found my attention wandering and I was struggling to care about the story of the particular persons whose romance had come to an end. In a voyeuristic age of reality TV, talk-show radio and gutter journalism – not to mention one’s own personal life journey – it’s hard to care sometimes.

At the Entrance - Museum of Broken Relationships

Theatre, Parliament and other sights

In addition there were some lovely other sights that we saw in Zagreb. There was the beautiful Croatian National Theatre and the Parliament of Croatia. There is also a plaque not far from the Parliament commemorating Nikola Tesla – a Serbian inventor best known for his contributions towards the alternating current (AC) form of electricity. A lovely art nouveau building also waits to be discovered if you plan to visit Zagreb, called the Kallina House.

The Kallina House with art nouveau finishes

Statute of Augustin Ujevic, famous Croatian poet

Changing of the Guard - Ban Jelacic Square

Details from the Plaque of Nikola Tesla

Crucifixion Scene inside the Cathedral

© 2015 Christo Snyman

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