Opened in 1794 at the initiative of Bishop Maksimilijan Vrhovac, Maksimir was the first large public park in the South-Eastern Europe. It was named after the bishop, who conceived the park’s original landscaping in the Baroque style in 1839. The name Maksimir also refers to the larger Zagreb neighbourhood surrounding the park and to the FC Dinamo stadium, situated opposite the park. Maksimir Park was redesigned by Bishop Juraj Haulik, who combined elements of Biedermeier style with romantic neoclassicism and historicism. Other artists who left their mark include sculptors Anton Dominik Fenkorn and Josip Kassman, the bishop’s head gardener Franjo Serafin Korbler, and landscape architect Michael Sebastian Riedel.
Architect Franz Schücht left behind a number of contributions, including the Pavilion of Echoes, the Kiosk (a lookout), and the Swiss House with Bishop Haulik’s salon on the upper floor. The salon contains a richly carved, 400-year old wooden baroque ceiling and stained glass windows with scenes from Swiss and Tyrol landscapes, drawn by absburg Court painter Eduard Gurk.
The Zagreb Zoo occupies an area of 7 hectares, including lakes and ponds, in the southern part of Maksimir. Opened in 1925, it is one of only three zoo parks in Croatia. It houses 2,225 animals representing 275 species, including red panda, snow leopard, North China leopard, wisent, pygmy hippopotamus, Bactrian camel, okapi, addax and Diana monkey. The zoo is divided into a number of sections, including the Insectarium, Tropical House, African Village and Australian section.The Zagreb Zoo attracts about 350,000 visitors annually and hosts a series of entertaining and educational events throughout the year. These include Abracadabra Zoo, a night walk with mythical characters as guides, and Eco Academy, a program that educates children on different ways they can help animals and the environment through practical workshops, experiments and games. Visitors can also experience the daily life at the zoo by becoming groomers for a day.
CITY CENTER ACCOMMODATION
Visitors looking for rooms near the city center can find comfortable and modern bed and breakfast accommodation at the Hotel Jadran. Situated a short walk from the main square and the Zagreb Cathedral, the hotel offers easy access to the city’s best known landmarks in the Upper and Lower Town and is only a short tram ride away from Maksimir Park and the Zagreb Zoo.
Images: Wikimedia Commons/Branko Radovanović, Silverije
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