Medieval secular Gradec and church-dominated Kaptol used to be separated by the Medveščak stream, but nowadays it is Tkalčićeva Street that ‘flows’ down that course, one of the favourite streets in Zagreb for drinking coffee, a well-known and beloved habit of Zagrebians.
If you want to tell something to friends, arrange something, discuss something, get to know someone better or even apologize for something – in this city it is called ‘going for coffee’. Company is desirable, but not necessary – when the weather gets warm, you can enjoy your coffee (or tea, juice or a glass of wine, as coffee is not mandatory) – outdoors alone. Popular Tkalča (the street begins very close to Main Square Residence, left to the left stairway to Dolac) is dotted with coffee bars with terraces, and you will also find there a statue of Marija Jurić Zagorka, the first Croatian female journalist, author of a series of novels about witch hunt, as well as of another popular Zagreb love story –about Siniša and Nera.
There used to be a bridge over the stream, connecting Gradec and Kaptol, called the Painted Bridge, and the story has it that the bridge was often used for an ‘exchange of opinions’ which is why people began to call it – Krvavi most (Bloody Bridge). Today, this former bridge with a scary name is a small, tame little street that runs between Radićeva and Tkalčićeva Street, but its horror name was kept.
Radićeva, the main trading street in the 19 century, called Long Street at the time, runs directly from the Square towards the Upper Town and is the shortest way from Main Square Residence to the Upper Town. When you go up a rather steep Radićeva (leave your high heels at home) and reach the sculpture of St. George with a dragon (a rare sculpture not showing the killing of the dragon but the dragon which has already been killed), turn left and you will find yourself right before the Stone Gate and the entrance to the Upper Town.
If you prefer shortcuts and secret paths over typical tourist routes, here is a Zagreb secret for you – there are several relatively hidden stairways going up to the Upper Town, as secretive as the Upper Town itself. Zakmardijeve Stube begin in a passageway in Radićeva Street, very close to Ban Jelačić Square. Male, Mlinske and Felbingerove Stube lead to the Upper Town from Tkalčićeva. Do not despair if you cannot find them at first attempt – that is part of their charm. Every resident of Zagreb will gladly show you where they are.
Photos: Tkalčićeva Street on a winter evening and a building in Radićeva Street