Photo Essay

Exploring Cosy Zagreb, a Changing City

Exploring Zagreb

Have you ever been to a city of one million people which feels relaxed? Zagreb is such a place, the capital of Croatia.

Sometimes you come to places that has some touch of magic. Take Zagreb for instance. Here it feels, above everything, really cosy. It's a city of one million but it feels like a town thanks to its picturesque medieval center, lively markets and friendliness everywhere.

The charm of Zagreb is its atmosphere and its people, friendly people chatting in a relaxed atmosphere all over the place, on streets, outside the houses, in the parks and around the numerous terraces in the cosy old town. Life is everywhere here.

Big touristic attractions are not present and so there are not many tourists either. This makes the city very relaxed; overcrowded places are hard to find. The only crowded place might be the daily market in the old town center and only open in the mornings. Upon entering elderly woman will greet you with their smile while they try to sell their self-picked flowers from outside the city.

These colorful women form a human entry to a very atmospheric square with a rich mix of young and old, of granny's calling you 'sweetheart' and 'cute little thing'. In this square locals walk through a maze of market-stands, that are carefully filled with colorful pyramids of veggies and fruits. The market is without shouting or angriness but full with friendliness and care.

But not everything is that romantic. This charming Zagreb is also a city between two worlds. Situated in the North of the Balkan-region, the capital is in transition as they are trying to deal with the past of communism and war, and the present with looking to the North as negotiations are ongoing with the EU for membership.

The place is also relatively poor. The charming women of Zagreb are forced to sell goods on the street to have just that little extra money on top of their small pension. In addition, the city is full with houses and buildings in decay, even in the medieval part. Here numerous small houses are unused as owners wait for the buildings to fall-down and ground-prices to rise.

On the edge of Zagreb you see how the money flows. It is transforming the city rapidly as the council designated new zones for office buildings, that are surrounded by older houses and apartment-blocks waiting to fall down too. Shopping malls have arisen, while little shops in the city center are slowly feeling the competition and make way for luxurious shops.

Zagreb is a romantic and very cheerful place but it is changing fast. Will in ten years time the market still be filled with charming old ladies selling their fruits, vegetables and flowers? Or will the city transform in just another shopping mall? The people of Zagreb seem to be very much undecided but whatever will happen, now is a perfect moment to enjoy the city and observe these changes.

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