Zagreb – Croatia, Europe
Zagreb is the capital and the largest city of the Republic of Croatia. It is in the northwest of the country, along the Sava river, at the southern slopes of the Medvednica mountain. Zagreb lies at an elevation of approximately 122 m (400 ft) above sea level. According to the last official census, Zagreb’s city population in 2011 was 686,568, while its municipal population was 792,875. According to the same census, the wider Zagreb metropolitan area, which includes the City of Zagreb and Zagreb County (also known as the ‘Zagreb ring’), has a population of 1,110,517 people and is the only metropolitan area in Croatia with a population of over one million.
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 transport connections, concentration of industry, scientific and research institutions and industrial tradition underlie its leading economic position in Croatia. Zagreb is the seat of the central government, administrative bodies and almost all government ministries.
The oldest settlement in the urban area of Zagreb was a Roman town of Andautonia, now Šćitarjevo, which dates back to the 1st century AD. The first recorded appearance of the name Zagreb is dated to 1094, at which time the city existed as two different city centers: the smaller, eastern Kaptol, inhabited mainly by clergy and housing Zagreb Cathedral, and the larger, western Gradec, inhabited mainly by farmers and merchants. Gradec and Zagreb were united in 1851 by ban Josip Jelačić, who was credited for this, with the naming the main city square, Ban Jelačić Square in his honour. During the period of former Yugoslavia, Zagreb remained an important economic centre of the country, and was the second largest city. After the dissolution of Yugoslavia, Zagreb became the capital of Croatia.
The climate of Zagreb is classified as an oceanic climate (Cfb in Köppen climate classification system), near the boundary of the humid continental climate. Zagreb has four separate seasons. Summers are warm, and winters are cold, without a discernible dry season. The average temperature in winter is −0.5 °C (31.1 °F) and the average temperature in summer is 22.0 °C (71.6 °F). Particularly, the end of May gets very warm with temperatures rising above 30 °C (86 °F), doing so on an average of 17 days each summer.
Snowfall is common in the winter months, from December to March, and rain and fog are common in fall (October to December). Highest recorded temperature ever was 40.4 °C (104.7 °F) in July 1950, and lowest was −27.3 °C (−17.1 °F) in February 1956.
Public transportation in the city is organized in several layers: the inner parts of the city are mostly covered by trams, the outer suburbs are linked with buses, while some suburban areas are accessible by commuter rail.
The public transportation company ZET (Zagrebački električni tramvaj, Zagreb Electric Tram) operates trams, all inner bus lines, and the most of the suburban bus lines, and it is subsidized by the city council.
The national rail operator Croatian Railways (Hrvatske željeznice, HŽ) runs a network of suburban trains in the metropolitan Zagreb area, and it is a government-owned corporation.
The funicular (uspinjača) in the historic part of the city is a tourist attraction.
Taxis are readily available through a network of around a thousand vehicles, but is not particularly popular among the residents because the prices are significantly higher than in other Croatian cities.
Zagreb Airport (IATA: ZAG, ICAO: LDZA), known as ‘Pleso Airport’ is the main Croatian international airport, a 17 km (11 mi) drive southeast of Zagreb in the suburb of Pleso. The airport is also the main Croatian airbase featuring a fighter squadron, helicopters, as well as military and freight transport aircraft.
Zagreb also has a second, smaller airport, Lučko (ICAO: LDZL). It is home to sports airplanes and a Croatian special police unit, as well as being a military helicopter airbase. Lučko used to be the main airport of Zagreb from 1947 to 1959.
A third, small grass airfield, Buševec, is located just outside Velika Gorica. It is primarily used for sports purposes.
Zagreb is an important tourist center, not only in terms of passengers travelling from Western and Central Europe to the Adriatic Sea, but also as a travel destination itself. Since the end of the war, it has attracted close to a million visitors annually, mainly from Austria, Germany and Italy. However, the city has even greater potential as many tourists that visit Croatia skip Zagreb in order to visit the beaches along the Croatian Adriatic coast and old historic Renaissance cities such as Dubrovnik, Split, and Zadar. There are many interesting things for tourists in Zagreb, for example, the two statues of Saint George, one at the Marshal Tito Square, the other at Kamenita vrata, where the image of Virgin Mary is said to be only thing that hasn’t burned in the 17th century fire. Also, there is an art installation starting in Bogovićeva street, called Nine Views. Most of the people don’t know what the statue Prizemljeno sunce (The Grounded Sun) is for, so they put graffiti or signatures on it, but it’s actually the Sun scaled down, with many planets situated all over Zagreb in relative scale with the Sun.
The historical part of the city to the north of Ban Jelačić Square is composed of the Gornji Grad and Kaptol, a medieval urban complex of churches, palaces, museums, galleries and government buildings that are popular with tourists on sightseeing tours. The historic district can be reached on foot, starting from Jelačić Square, the center of Zagreb, or by a funicular on nearby Tomićeva Street.