I won’t go into the history of Croatia here, but will tell you a little about the history of the capital Zagreb because this is where we spent our week in the country.
During medieval times, two towns emerged on neighbouring hills; one called Kaptol and the other Gradec. During the 16th century, the two towns became one, and Zagreb was chosen as the new name. The trade fairs and market stalls were located on the relatively flat land just south of Kaptol, and as the economy blossomed, so did the buildings around the edges of the square.
The 19th century saw Zagreb become a major centre for the clothing trade, resulting in a rail link to both Vienna and Budapest. Zagreb’s cultural scene began to thrive as well. Theatres, concert halls and museums were established in grand buildings between the central square and the railway station.
Following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire at the end of WWI, Zagreb joined with its neighbours to form the Kingdom Of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (colloquially known as Yugoslavia right from the start).
There was little to no resistance to the German Army when it invaded Zagreb in April 1941. André Pavlić and the Ustaše established the Independent State of Croatia and ran the fascist state from Zagreb until 1944, despite the fact that the majority of the citizens of the city continued to support Tito.
After the end of WWII, Zagreb continued to expand but began to take a backseat to Belgrade. With the breakup of Yugoslavia, Croatia asserted its independence in 1991 and Zagreb was named the capital.