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Zagreb history

Oct 11th 2010 at 9:43 AM

Zagreb history

The oldest part of Zagreb are the two hills that form Zagreb's Upper Town, Gradec and Kaptol which remain the most interesting neighbourhood to visit in Zagreb. Back in the 11th century, Kaptol attracted a small religious community while Gradec developed nearby. Unfortunately the Mongols swept through in 1242 and destroyed everything.

The religious community on Kaptol rebuilt and remained under the Church's jurisdiction throughout the Middle Ages while Gradec attracted merchants and artisans. The two communities were constantly quarreling but thrived because of large, economically important fairs which brought trade to the region.

It wasn't until the 17th century that the two towns merged and became Zagreb. It was an unstable time however as the Ottoman Turks were making incursions into the region. A great deal of what is now Croatia fell to the Turks but Zagreb was never taken and it became the capital. The constant threat of Turkish attacks forced the government to relocate to Varazdin between 1756 and 1776 and by the end of the century Zagreb had lost population and economic importance.

As the Turkish threat receded however, Zagreb began to reestablish its trade and commerce connections an by the 19th century it had become the economic and cultural centre of Croatia. Calls for pan-Slavic unity resounded throughout the Balkans and Zagreb intellectuals like Bishop Strossmayer took a leading role in the new movement which sought greater autonomy within the Austro-Hungarian empire.

Zagreb continued to expand geographically from the banks of the Sava River to the southern slopes of Mt Medvednica up until German troops entered Zagreb in 1941. A puppet government under Ante Pavelic was installed and Zagreb was proclaimed capital of the new Independent State of Croatia. Ironically, the fascist government of Pavelic enjoyed little support within Zagreb whose residents continued to support Tito and the Partizans.

Even though the capital of Yugoslavia was Belgrade, Zagreb continued to expand and its economy thrived. In 1991 Croatia became independent and Zagreb became the capital of the new country.

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