The next item on our agenda was my pick of the day: The Museum of Broken Relationships. It was a good 25-minute walk through the city and up a few flights of stairs to reach the museum.
The Museum of Broken Relationships was conceived as an art project by Olinka Vištica and Dražen Grubišić in 2006, who were once a couple themselves. In 2010, their first permanent museum was opened in Zagreb and the same year it won the EMYA Kenneth Hudson Award as the most innovative and daring museum project in Europe. Contributions can be made in two ways – either by sending your story for their virtual collection or by sending/bringing the physical item to an exhibition. In 2016, a second permanent location was founded in Los Angeles; I plan to go this summer as I loved the Zagreb museum.
After finishing up at the museum, we decided to continue walking around the hill, known as Gradec, as many of Zagreb’s famous sights were located in the area. The first of these, and possibly the most spectacular, was St. Mark’s Church. Dating back to the 13th/14th centuries, it is known for its tiled roof which depicts the coat of arms of Zagreb (a white castle on a red background) and the Triune Kingdom of Croatia, Slavonia and Dalmatia.
Turning right from the church, we then came across the Stone Gate, which was first mentioned in 1492, though likely dates back to the 13th century. A former gate of the city walls, it was damaged in a fire four times, the last of which, in 1731, left one painting intact – that of Virgin Mary with a baby Jesus. Seeing it as a miracle, the owner built a chapel inside the Stone Gate with ironwork around the painting to protect it. Since then, it has become a significant oath site, with engravings standing as testimony to that fact.
On the other side of the Stone Gate is a statue of St. George, sculpted by Winder and Kompatscher in 1906. It differs from the usual depiction as it shows the saint in the moments after the dragon has been slain rather than in the midst of battle. The saint is cast in bronze while the dragon is sculpted from red breccia stone. It was donated to the Druzba Brace Hrvatskoga Zmaja (Order of the Brethren of the Croatian Dragon), which was founded in the 15th century by Sigismund, the Holy Roman Emperor and king of Hungary and Croatia. It was formed to be a society of selecting nobleman who fought heretics and Ottomans (Vlad the Impaler was a member) and was inspired by the dismantled Order of St. George, hence the saint became their patron.
We decided to go back down the hill and see the Zagreb Cathedral; helpful street signs pointed us in the right direction. The Roman Catholic cathedral is the tallest building in Croatia in addition to being the most monumental sacral building in the Gothic style southeast of the Alps. It is dedicated to the Assumption of Mary and to the kings Saint Stephen and Saint Ladislaus. In 1880, the cathedral was severely damaged in an earthquake and restorations are still being made.
By this point, we had seen everything we wanted and so decided to just wander around the city. On one street corner, we came across a mural titled “Xenophora”. Created by the Croatian artist Lonac, it took about a week to make. Unfortunately, I didn’t know Zagreb had numerous murals around the city or I would have spent more time in the city tracking them down.
After continuing our walk for a little longer, we began to feel the lack of sleep catching up to us. We decided to head back to the Airbnb and rest for the remainder of the day, satisfied we had seen a lot during our time in the city. We headed back at night to get some dinner, ending up at Vinodol, a restaurant just down the street. As we had eaten a large lunch earlier in the day, we just ordered an assortment of small plates: Dalmatian prosciutto with olives, Slavonian Kulen (a cured and flavoured pork sausage) with ricotta cheese, sour cream and cornbread, and a selection of Croatian cheeses with honey and fruit.
With an early train the next morning, we immediately went to bed once back at the Airbnb. We made the most of our time in Zagreb, however short it may have been. Maybe I will be able to visit again, and hunt down the other street art located around the city.