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Digital Subscriptions > Lonely Planet > October 2018 > GREAT ESCAPE: Croatia

GREAT ESCAPE: Croatia

Far from the well-trodden tourist trail of Dubrovnik, Split and Hvar, another Croatia lies in wait. Take the time to discover its electrifying capital, fairy-tale castles and secret coves on a northern road trip around the eastern Adriatic

@MikeMacEacheran

MAP ILLUSTRATION: STELLA ISAAC; PHOTOGRAPHS JUSTIN FOULKES @justinfoulkes
Baristas Dina Habulin and Sara Cehman at Cogito Coffee. Left: A tongue-in-cheek art work beneath an historic gas lamp. Above left: A window onto the Old Town. Above: Zagreb’s 15th-century Kaptol Tower

Savour street life in Zagreb, from markets and coffee shops to a lantern-lit, late-night pub crawl

THE CHURCH BELLS CHIME OVER THE RED-TILED roofs of Gornji Grad-Medvescak as the morning's commute across the Old Town begins. Office workers dash beneath Viennese baroque facades. Jam-packed trams glide past Tito-era Communist blocks. Latecomers guzzle Bosnian pastries and students linger at a Roman stone fountain before class. Watching over it all astride a stallion is Josip Jelacic, a folk hero and figurehead for Croatia's independence movement, his achievements now immortalised in bronze on Ban Jelacic Square.

It's cultural history such as this that makes Zagreb so engrossing to explore. At Dolac Market, traders peddle souvenirs from stalls hung with marionettes, wooden toys and gingerbread hearts as they have done for centuries. Atop Lotrscak Tower, a canon is fired every midday to remind the city's bell-ringers to get to work, while worshippers bow piously at the country's ecclesiastical masterpiece, the monumental sandstone Zagre Cathedral.

None of this, however, would be possible without another venerated tradition: the brewing of dark, Turkish-style coffee. At the forefront of this scene is Cogito Coffee, a startup with a roastery in a restored light-bulb factory. 'No one works until they've had at least two cups,' says owner Matija Belkovic, making a double-shot espresso. 'Four is normal and without it Zagre would grind to a halt.'

The city's favourite sons, including Nikola Tesla, are immortalised in murals
ARTWORKS: BIKE – PART OF EVENT ‘LJETO KOD MATOŠA’ SCENOGRAPHY SIGNED BY STUDIO ‘LE PRASE’ (TAJANA ČANIĆ STANKOVIĆ I ALAN STANKOVIĆ), LEPRASE.COM. GRAFFITI – WALL OF LOTRŠČAK TOWER, FRENCH ARTIST LEVALET, LEVALET.XYZ/OUTSIDE, AS PART OF PROJECT ‘OKOLO (AROUND)’ FACEBOOK.COM/OKOLOZAGREB. TESLA MURAL – STAIRS CONNECTING PLATO GRADEC AND STROSSMAYER PROMENMADE, AUTHORS OF NIKOLA TESLA GRAFFITI ARE: DOMINGO, MODUL I BARE LICEGRADA.HR/ZNATE-LI-STO-JE-ZAJEDNICKO-IZUMITELJIMA-TESLI-I-PENKALI/
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October 2018 Issue of Lonely Planet