Admirers of fine architecture are in for a treat with the Gothic-Renaissance Dominican Monastery & Museum. It is about as old as the city walls, dating from the 1300s, and the outside makes the building look more like a fortress than a monastery. Inside is a very elegant cloister, dating from the 1400s and designed by Massa di Bartolomeo. In the East Wing is the extensive collection of paintings, with masterpieces by greats such as Nikola Bozidarevic, Mihajlo Hamzic and Dobric Dobricevic.
The Ethnographic Museum in Dubrovnik contains about 70,000 objects which give us an insight into Croatia’s ethnographic history. Unfortunately, only around 2750 of these are displayed. These include Pag lace, Slavonian scarves with gold embroidery traditional Croatian clothing and much, much more. Mirko and Stevo Seljan brought back a rich collection of South American, Congolese, Ethiopian, Chinese, Japanese and Australian relics from their explorations which have been added to the displays.
The cable car that carries people from Dubrovnik’s city walls to Mount Srd was closed for almost two decades, but now brings passengers on this exciting journey in four minutes. From an elevation of about 1,329 feet, one can look out over the beautiful city of Dubrovnik, the Old Town and Lokrum Island. On a clear day, right out on the edge of the horizon one can make out the Elafiti Islands. With the aid of telescopes you can have fun picking out specific objects and people from a great distance. Nearby are a restaurant and snacks bar.
St Ignatius Church was opened in 1725 and is dedicated to the Jesuit society’s founder. On the walls are frescoes which tell the story of his life, and the Jesuit College is next door. From Gunduliceva Poljana, walk to the top of a wide stairway to access the College. A vibrant morning market takes place on the square, and is well worth a visit. A statue of Ivan Gundulic, the renowned poet from Dubrovnik, stands in the square.
Walk through the Pile Gate in Dubrovnik into the district of Stradun and you will be amazed by the Great Onofrio Fountain, standing in Luza Square. This fountain, dating from 1438, is amongst the most well known of Dubrovnik’s attractions. When constructed it marked the end point of one of Croatia’s first aqueducts. This aqueduct was designed by Andriuzzi de Bulbilo and Onofrio dell Cava, and used a source almost 7.5 miles away. When first opened, the fountain was much more heavily decorated, but the earthquake of 1667 left it badly damaged. Sadly, repair works were never carried out and these days the main feature is a massive central dome with 16 carved masks. From the mouths of these masks, water jets flow into a pool. People can sit and relax on the ledge and steps surrounding the water trough. Standing at Stradun’s opposite end, close to the tower, is the very ornate Small Onofrio Fountain, with sculptures of dolphins. Luza Square is also where you can admire the bell tower. Orlando’s Column is just a short walk away.
The Medvednica Nature Park in Zagreb has been a haven for walkers, hikers and skiers since 1981. It is particularly busy during summer months, when Mount Medvednica, on which the Nature Park is located, blooms with a huge variety of flowers and the trees come to life in all sorts of glorious colours. It is also during this time that the weather is particularly pleasant. During winter months, the Nature Park offers skiing equipment on loan and lodgings to skiers. One can also use the cable car to access the summit of the 1032 metre Sljeme. This area is also a Mecca for hikers. It is also on this mountain that you will find the Veternica Cave, where bats roost and archaeological discoveries from the Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Cenozoic periods were found. Medvednica Nature Park is easily accessible from Zagreb by either car or public transport.
Jarun Lake is a favourite recreational spot for the inhabitants of Zagreb, as it is located not far to the south west of the city. It is easy to get here by public transport – just catch a tram to the district of Jarun. The Sava River flows into this lake, which is particularly popular for rowers, surfers, joggers, skateboarders, boaters, sailors, swimmers and skaters. Surrounding it are a range of eateries and clubs, meaning this area is a hive of activity all day and night.
Mishamir Park, which dates from the late 1700s, is the largest park in Zagreb. It is also where you will find the Zagreb City Zoo, which makes it one of the city’s most popular spots for those with children. This is a very laid back place, where parents can chill out beside one of the five lakes and enjoy the outdoors while the children play or look at the animals. For refreshment after a few hours spent in the fresh air, a café is available. There is no charge to enter the park, but one does have to purchase a ticket for Zagreb City Zoo.
Andautonia Park is an active archaeological site not far from Zagreb. Here, people can walk around the unearthed roads, columns and public baths of the ancient town of Andautonia. The Romans settled in this area (spanning just under 27000 square foot), close to Scitarjevo village, around the 1st century AD. This quickly became a significant hub of administration and culture. Archaeologist first began studying this area in the 1700s and are still making new discoveries today. In Scitarjevo village itself, old Croatian houses built from traditional wood can also be admired.
The Tower of Lotrscak (known as Kula Lotrscak in the Croatian language) dates from the 1200s and guarded against attackers at the southern wall of Gradec (now known as Zagreb’s Old Town area). Originally, it featured a bell, which would ring when the gates of the town walls were shut. If you failed to enter the protected area before they were shut, you would have to remain outside until sunrise. In the 1800s, a fourth floor was built onto the tower, as well as a cannon, which to this day is fired every midday. It is well worth climbing the tower, as the full beauty of Zagreb can be admired from the top. You will also find a souvenir shop and gallery here.