Zagreb's Stairway to Heaven

Can you imagine how many stairs there are in the Upper Town? Neither could I five years ago, so I went climbing through their amazing history

I love Zagreb. I love every street, park, square, and cultural attraction. It can be said that Zagreb and I fell in love at first sight, and that love happened five years ago when I decided to continue my education in the main capital of Croatia. Despite living in Zagreb for five years and the feeling that I know the main and most interesting things in Zagreb, I realized that Zagreb is still a big mystery to me. More precisely, the Upper Town of Zagreb, or better said, the Upper Town stairs. I take those stairs almost every day, the stairs that have an amazing history.


And how it began…

One Saturday, while I was drinking coffee with my best friend on one of the most popular streets, Tkalčićeva Street, my eyes fell on old wooden and steep stairs. I asked my friend if she knew where the stairs led. Considering we didn't know the answer, we decided to do a little research. We started walking up Radićeva street, excited about what we might discover.


Image credit: Zagreb Tourist Board, Marko Vrdoljak



Step by step with the help of Google

Step by step with the help of Google, we found out that those stairs were the Felbinger stairs which connect Tkalčićeva and Radićeva Street. In the past, they were called 'the hundred steep stairs' and after a long walk up, feeling breathless, we realized why they had that nickname. By the way, the stairs are named in the memory of one of the main Zagreb's architects – Bartol Felbinger who lived in the early 19th century.



Germans and Greeks lived outside the Upper Town

While we were walking along Radićeva street, we realized how it was the most important business street outside the Upper Town where Germans and Greeks used to live, and where shops, crafts, and banks were located. This is evidenced by the first Croatian savings bank that attracts attention with its architecture, sculpture of Croatian Woman and the relief of Roman god Mercury. And guess what? We found new stairs, known as 'Small stairs' that lead through the famous Stone Gate.


Image credit: Zagreb Tourist Board, Marko Vrdoljak


I am not sure if you know, but the Stone Gate was the main city gate in the east side of Zagreb. But when the citizens tore down the north gate, they built Vraz promenade which reveals yet another set of stairs where you can enjoy a wonderful view of the Zagreb Cathedral.



The best place to enjoy the panoramic view

After the danger of Turkish attacks passed, local people tore down the south gate, as well. I am sure it doesn't make sense to repeat that there was another set of stairs next to the Lotrščak Tower, known as Zakmardij stairs. Pretty hard surname, isn't it? My friend and I decided not to go down those stairs because there were so many of them. So, we just stayed near Lotrščak Tower, more precisely on Strossmayer promenade, and enjoyed the panoramic view of sunny Zagreb.


The most expensive reconstruction of the stairs

Just for you information, that place is always crowded. It's full of tourists, love couples, students, so if you find a free bench in the park, it's your lucky day. After looking at all those people, and a little bit longer break, we decided to go to the lower part of the city. But of course, nothing without stairs.


Image credit: Zagreb Tourist Board, Marko Vrdoljak


Luckily for our legs, these were the last ones for that day so we continued down the Lenuci stairs from the 19th century. It's interesting that these stairs as one of the most famous upper town's stairs are located next to the shortest funicular in the world.  They are under protection, and due to its deterioration, Lenuci stairs were finally renovated in 2008. The reconstruction cost one million and 300 thousand kunas.

After two hours of walking and going up and down the upper town streets and stairs, we concluded it is time to end the adventure. Our muscles have been very grateful, for sure. Considering the fact that we were delighted with historical, cultural, and urban values of the city, my best friend and I made a promise: „The research of upper town stairs will definitely be continued next weekend“. It is unbelievable how one 'usual', old, wooden or stone stairs can make someone so happy. And it is even more unbelievable how it is easy to go back to the romantic past and imagine the life of that time while you are trying to discover different streets, roads, and shortcuts. Who knows, maybe next adventure will be 'love at first sight' moment, as well, but hopefully this time with some guy as wonderful as Zagreb is. :)


Header image credit: Zagreb Tourist Board, Marko Vrdoljak

Author: Nikolina Jozanović